Valerie Reyna, the Lois and Melvin Tukman Professor of Human Development in the College of Human Ecology, was elected president of the Society for Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science, which is also a division of the American Psychological Association.
Reyna directs Cornell’s Human Neuroscience Institute and co-directs the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research. Her research combines brain and behavioral approaches to understand judgment, decision making and memory.
“Being elected to this position is a great honor and a great responsibility,” she said. “I feel very honored to have the support of my colleagues, and that makes this very special.”
Now is a critical time for leaders in psychology and behavioral science to address the problems facing our society, Reyna shared.
“At this very difficult time, it’s important to realize that behavioral sciences are at the center of many of the issues we face,” she said. “COVID-19 certainly, but also racial disparities and policing. Human behavior and human choice are at the heart of these issues. I hope to organize efforts to make progress in those very important areas.”
“Basic science research is crucial in the pipeline of knowledge that has application to these dire problems,” she added. “The medical folks talk about from bench to bedside. There’s a similar analogy in experimental psychology and cognitive sciences.”
Reyna also said she hopes to steer the focus of the field away from the personal motivations of researchers and toward research data, emphasizing how science serves society.