Daniel B. Berch, Ph.D., University of Virginia, is professor of educational psychology and applied developmental science and senior advisor to the dean, Curry School of Education. His primary interests have been in the area of mathematical cognition and development, and learning disabilities in math. He formerly served as senior research associate at the U. S. Department of Education, advising the Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement on technical and policy matters pertaining to educational research. For the past several years, he has been focusing on issues concerning the implications of evolutionary theory for educational research and practice.
David F. Bjorklund, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, is professor of developmental and evolutionary psychology. His primary research interests are in cognitive development and evolutionary developmental psychology, the latter being a sub-discipline which he helped establish. He is one of the world’s leading developmental psychologists, and among other co-authored volumes on evolution and development has written a highly regarded book entitled: Why youth is not wasted on the young: immaturity in human development.
David C. Geary, Ph.D., University of Missouri, is Curators’ professor of psychology whose major interests are in evolutionary and cognitive developmental psychology. Among other achievements, he designed the first framework for a new discipline known as evolutionary educational psychology. In addition, he has been a major contributor to both the theoretical and empirical literatures concerning the role of evolutionary factors in cognitive and behavioral development, and among other books, is author of a widely praised volume entitled: The origin of mind: Evolution of brain, cognition, and general intelligence.
Roberta Michnick Golinkoff holds the H. Rodney Sharp Chair in the School of Education at the University of Delaware and is also a member of the Departments of Psychology and Linguistics. She directs the Infant Language Project, whose goal it is to understand how children tackle the amazing feat of learning language. She has also started another line of research on the benefits of play. Although “play” has recently become a 4-letter word, the research suggests exactly the opposite: Children learn best through play and when their learning is embedded in a playful context. The recipient of a prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and a James McKeen Cattell Sabbatical award, Dr. Golinkoff is frequently quoted in newspapers and magazines as a scientific advocate for children. She has appeared on Good Morning America, many regional television morning shows, and hundreds of radio programs around the country. Dr. Golinkoff has written dozens of journal articles, chapters, and academic books and presents at professional conferences and to lay groups all over the world. Her book Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less (Rodale) (with Kathy Hirsh-Pasek), attempts to liberate caring adults from the cult of achievement: Parents and teachers do not need to raise a generation of Einsteins. The research confirms what parents and teachers have long suspected: Play is the vehicle through which children maximize their development. Her latest book, A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence (with Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Laura Berk, and Dorothy Singer), presents the scientific evidence in support of three points: 1) Children need both unstructured free play and playful learning under the gentle guidance of adults to best prepare them for entrance into formal school; 2) academic and social development are so inextricably intertwined that the former must not trump attention to the latter; and 3) learning and play are not incompatible; learning takes place best when children are engaged and enjoying themselves.
Peter Gray, Ph.D., Boston College, is research professor of psychology, whose interests span evolutionary and developmental psychology, children’s age-mixed play, and self-directed learning. He is author of a forthcoming book entitled: Free to learn: Why unleashing the instinct to play will make our children happier, more self-reliant, and better prepared for life.
Patricia H. Hawley, Ph.D., University of Kansas, is associate professor of developmental psychology with interests in evolution and its impacts on the nature of human social competence, personality and individual differences, morality, aggression, and friendship selection and dynamics. She formulated an evolutionary model of social dominance known as Resource Control Theory.
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., Temple University, is professor of developmental psychology, whose research explores the bridge between developmental theory and social/educational policy. Her latest work is focused on both free and guided play, in which she examines the impact of these kinds of activities on academic learning.
David F. Lancy, Ph.D., Utah State University, is Professor Anthropology whose research interests are in the anthropology of childhood, and has done fieldwork in Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Trinidad, Sweden, and the United States. One of his relevant influential papers is entitled, “Learning from Nobody: The Limited Role of Teaching in Folk Models of Children’s Development” (2010). And the title of his latest book, currently in press, is “How Children Learn Their Culture.”
James S. Nairne, Ph.D., Purdue University, is Reece McGee distinguished professor of psychology. His interests are in the adaptive functions of memory and the evolutionary determinants of cognition. He innovative research has demonstrated that presenting students with a recall task in the context of a survival scenario (“You are stranded in the grasslands of a foreign land…) not only yields better remembering than having to recall the same words in a non-survival situation, but also better than any other known strategies to date.
Dr. Alex Shaw, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Decision Research, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, was awarded his Ph.D. from Yale University. He is broadly interested in how human beings navigate the complex social world by tracking each others’ reputations and by signaling to others. More specifically, he studies the development of fairness in children, focusing on differentiating fairness from other forms of niceness, exploring the reputational motives that may underlie fairness, and how fairness may relate to our alliance psychology. Dr. Shaw also engages in research concerning intellectual property in children, investigating whether part of our concern with people stealing ideas is based in not liking others garnering a false reputational advantage. In addition he is interested in the computations people perform to decide how and when to fight over resources, track others’ reputations, and learn to properly discount others’ self-promotional strategies. Much of this work is informed by taking an evolutionary perspective. His research has been published in a number of different top-tier cognitive, developmental, and evolutionary psychology scholarly journals.
Gale Sinatra, Ph.D., University of Southern California, is professor of educational psychology at the Rossier school of education. Her interests and expertise are in learning theory and knowledge construction focusing on conceptual change with respect to the learning of biological evolution and climate science.
John Sweller, Ph.D., University of New South Wales, Australia, is emeritus professor of educational psychology who formulated the influential theory of cognitive load, which was derived from the evolutionary precursors of human cognitive architecture.
David Sloan Wilson, Ph.D., Binghamton University, is SUNY distinguished professor of biological sciences and anthropology, founder of the interdisciplinary evolutionary studies (EvoS) program at BU, and President of The Evolution Institute. Dr. Wilson’s is a leading proponent of what is known as multi-level selection theory. His research interests and expertise spans diverse areas as viewed through an evolutionary lens, including economic theory, adolescent development, education, and improving the quality of life in urban communities and neighborhoods. He is also widely known for authoring books on evolution for the general public, including Evolution for Everyone, Darwin’s Cathedral, and most recently, The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time. With respect to the proposed conference, it should be noted that Dr. Wilson recently employed a randomized control design to successfully demonstrate improvement in the academic performance of a group of at-risk high school students following the implementation of a self-contained educational program informed by evolutionary science (Wilson, Kauffman, & Purdy, 2012).