February 26, 2013

Scientific Society Will Award Prof. Ceci For Child Development Research

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In April, Prof. Stephen Ceci, human development, will be presented with an award by the Society of Research in Child Development for his lifetime research achievements in the field.

Ceci’s colleagues reacted to the news with praise for Ceci’s accomplishments. Prof. Stephen Hamilton, hu­man development, said the award, called the 2013 Distinguished Lifetime Scientific Contributions to Child Development, means Ceci “is thought of as one of the leading scholars of child development in the world.”

Prof. John Eckenrode, human development, echoed Hamilton’s sentiments.

“The SRCD is the largest professional association of child development researchers in the world and this is their highest scientific achievement award,” Eckenrode said.

Prof. Elaine Wethington, human development, said Ceci’s work is notable because of the influence it has on his colleagues, as well as because of its real-world applications.

“Ceci is remarkable in how many other researchers he has influence on, how many students he has trained, the dozens and dozens of grad students he has mentored, the breadth and versatility of his research, and especially how he has applied his research to real world problems,” Wethington said.

Ceci said his approach to child development is three-pronged, drawing jointly on the interactions among social influences, neurobiological maturation and cognitive changes.

As children develop, they become “much more sensitive to status cues and social influences,” Ceci said. For example, if someone in a police uniform asked questions to a child, the child might be more responsive than if the same person were to interrogate the child dressed as a janitor, he said.

The second area — neurobiological maturation — pertains to  regions of the prefrontal cortex, which are associated with regulating, monitoring and tracking memories and are not completely developed until early adulthood, according to Ceci.

“Because of their immature prefrontal cortex, children two to four years old cannot regulate, monitor or control their memory and cognition,” he said.

The third part of Ceci’s approach is the rapid development of memory and cognitive system. This area of his research focuses on how, as children develop, they are able to both store more memories and retrieve more information from them, according to Ceci.

The SRCD award is the third major lifetime achievement award Ceci has recieved for his child development re­search. Ceci said he has previously received the American Psychological Association’s Lifetime Distinguished Con­tribution Award for Science and Society in 2003 and the Association for Psychological Science’s James McKeen Cattell Award for Lifetime Contributions in 2005.

Ceci said he hopes to continue his research in the field of child development.

“This latest award won’t change the way I do my job because I am propelled day to day by ideas that excite me and my doctoral students,” he said. “I foresee the future as a continuation of the past, just more of the same.”

Ceci’s multipronged approach for child development has appeared in more than 400 publications and 17,000 citations. However, he said that he was “humbled and honored” by the latest recognition.

“I feel this new award is richly undeserved,” he said. “Many other colleagues are equally deserving, but I happened to work on a topic that got hot. This was by chance.”

Original Author: Ashley Chu