April 25, 2001

H.D. Professor Wins Bronfenbrenner Award

Print More

Prof. Stephen J. Ceci, human development, became the 2002 winner of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society.

“I can truly say that my initial reaction was one of being stunned,” Ceci said. “I was completely unaware that I had been nominated for this award. I was shocked!”

The APA award was first established in 1995 to honor the work of Prof. Urie Bronfenbrenner ’38, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Human Development.

Bronfenbrenner explained that the award was meant to recognize “linking science to doing something about a social issue in the real world.”

Though Bronfenbrenner makes it a policy not to be a part of the award’s selection process in any way, he was extremely pleased to learn that Ceci was this year’s recipient.

“Steve and I have worked together on many problems. To have him get the award without any input from me, it’s like this seed that you planted growing into this wonderful thing,” Bronfenbrenner said.

Bronfenbrenner cautioned, however, that the award does not only honor those in his own field.

Ceci credited Bronfenbrenner as having a critical impact on his own work and practice.

“I had the opportunity to collaborate with Urie on a number of studies. It was a tremendously important experience, and it exposed me to very different ways of doing science,” Ceci said. “Urie’s influence on my approach was defining. He showed me that good science wasn’t incompatible with societal needs, and the latter sorely needed good science.”

At Cornell, Ceci dedicates his research in the areas children’s testimonial competence in courts and children’s intellectual development.

In terms of the APA award’s significance to his work, Ceci said, “The award affirms the scientific appropriateness of the approach I have taken to my work, and it validates its policy implications.”

In his research, Ceci has enlisted the help of many Cornell students. From that experience, Lauren Bence ’03 gave testimony to Ceci’s qualifications for the Bronfenbrenner award.

“I did research for Prof. Ceci on the rising rates of children’s IQ scores,” Bence said. “I felt extremely lucky to work on a project where the research methods and goals were so insightful.”

This recognition of excellence is not the first for Ceci, who holds the Helen L. Carr chair in developmental psychology. During his career he has also received a Senior Fullbright-Hayes fellowship, a National Institutes of Health Research Career Scientist Award, the IBM supercomputing prize, the Arthur Ricter award and three Senior Mensa Foundation Research Prizes.

Ceci will be presented with the Bronfenbrenner award at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Chicago in August 2002.

Archived article by Leigh McMullan