UC Irvine psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, whose research and publications over the last three decades have changed the way academics, courts and the public view the malleability of human memory, has been elected to the American Philosophical Society.
Loftus is among the 49 new members chosen from five categories: mathematical and physical sciences; biological sciences; social sciences; humanities; and the arts, professions and leaders in public and private affairs. Other noteworthy new members include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, essayist and novelist Joan Didion, former Ford Foundation president and CEO Franklin A. Thomas, and UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau.
Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, the American Philosophical Society is the oldest learned society in the United States devoted to the advancement of scientific and scholarly inquiry. Members have included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Robert Frost.
"I'm honored to join the American Philosophical Society," said Loftus. "To be invited into the ranks of an organization with such illustrious early members as Ben Franklin is something I deeply value and appreciate."
Loftus' work has shown that memory is highly susceptible to distortion and manipulation, and that people can vividly recall events that never happened. Her research on false memory, the reliability of eyewitness reports and memories "recovered" through therapy has affected how law enforcement, courts and psychologists consider such testimony. Her most recent research has focused on how false memories can affect an individual's behavior, including how false memories of experiences with food can influence eating habits.
Loftus is a Distinguished Professor in UCI's School of Social Ecology and a faculty fellow at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. She has served as an expert witness or consultant in many nationally publicized cases, including trials involving Martha Stewart, the Oklahoma City bombing, Michael Jackson and the Menendez brothers.
Loftus is the recipient of numerous other awards and honors. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, which awarded her the inaugural Henry & Bryna David Lectureship in 2002 for "application of the best social and behavioral sciences research to public policy issues." The American Psychological Society recognized her "significant lifetime intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology" with the William James Fellow Award in 2001. She also received the 2005 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology. She has received five honorary doctorates from universities in the United States, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Israel.
Ranked among the 25 psychologists most frequently cited in introductory psychology textbooks, Loftus has published more then 350 journal articles and is the author of 20 books, some in multiple editions and many that are translated into other languages. She is author of Eyewitness Testimony, which won a National Media Award, and co-author of the widely cited book, The Myth of Repressed Memory.
Other UCI members of the society are: Francisco J. Ayala, Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences; Walter M. Fitch, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology; R. Duncan Luce, Distinguished Research Professor of Cognitive Sciences and Economics; J. Hillis Miller, Distinguished Research Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and F. Sherwood Rowland, Donald Bren Research Professor of Chemistry and Earth System Science and 1995 Nobel laureate in chemistry. Chancellor emeritus Ralph J. Cicerone is also a member of the society. More: www.amphilsoc.org.
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