Inaugural Lecture of R. Brooke Lea as Professor of Psychology

4:45 PM  - 5:45 PM
Thursday Sep 27, 2018
John B. Davis Lecture Hall, Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center

The Red Wheelbarrow: An English Major’s Trip from Poetry to Psycholinguistics and Back

R. Brooke Lea is the DeWitt Wallace Professor of Psychology at Macalester in St. Paul, Minnesota. Lea graduated from Haverford College with a BA in English, and went on to earna PhD in experimental psychology from New York University in 1993. He then embarked on a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, before coming to Macalester in 1998. 

A cognitive psychologist interested in reasoning and language, Lea studies the moment-to-moment mental processes that allow us to comprehend language and understand logical relations. His work has appeared in numerous research journals, including the Journal of Memory and Language; Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition; Discourse Processes; and Psychological Science. He has also published two statistics textbooks with his co-author and former statistics professor Barry H. Cohen in whose class Lea met his future wife, Emily Fields, some 30 years ago. 

The recipient of the Mink Award for outstanding teaching in psychology, Lea has worked with students in his research lab for the past 20 years. This context has provided him with some of the most gratifying moments in his career: “I am fortunate to have met and worked with a remarkable collection of students at Macalester. Some of the sharpest, most creative minds I have ever known were possessed by the students working in my lab.” 

In 2011, Lea and his colleague Prof. David Matz from Augsburg College received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to open eye-tracking labs, one at each of the two institutions. Since the “iLab” opened, more than 50 students have worked on numerous projects, both research-centered and in support of classes in psychology and linguistics. In 2014, Lea’s students moved the iLab to the Science Museum of Minnesota to create an exhibit over three weekends about eye-movement research. 

Lea serves on the editorial board of Psychological Bulletin, one of the American Psychological Association’s flagship journals. He recently joined the editorial board of Discourse Processes, the specialty journal in his area. He has served as a panelist for the NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program for more than a decade, and was recently invited by the NSF to be a member of their new College of Reviewers for Undergraduate Education.

This event is for: Alumni, Students, Staff, Faculty, Parents and Families and Public

Sponsored By: President, Provost, Special Events

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