The University Record featured Developmental psychologist Susan Gelman and announced her being named a Distinguished University Professor and winner of the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.

Distinguished University Professorships recognize full or associate professors for exceptional scholarly and/or creative achievement, national and international reputation, and superior teaching skills. Distinguished Faculty Achievement Awards honor senior faculty who consistently have demonstrated outstanding achievements in the areas of scholarly research and/or creative endeavors; teaching and mentoring of students and junior faculty; service; and a variety of other activities.

Developmental psychologist Susan Gelman has revolutionized understanding of children’s memory, learning, categorization and language by demonstrating that early on young children have a powerful tendency to search for hidden, non-obvious features of things. Gelman’s discoveries debunked the once dominant view that children were concrete thinkers who focused only on the obvious. Through rigorous research, she has demonstrated that young children’s concepts reflect a deep commitment to essentialism — the idea that certain categories of things share an underlying reality. Her research with preschoolers to school-age children in the United States, China and Peru shows that children’s concepts are embedded in rich folk theories built around essentialist beliefs.

Gelman is the author of more than 200 scholarly publications, including “The Essential Child: Origins of Essentialism in Everyday Thought (2003).” A classic in the field, it won the Eleanor Maccoby Book Prize and the Cognitive Development Society Book Award. Her latest book, “Navigating the Social World: What Infants, Children and Other Species Can Teach Us (2013),” which she co-edited, explains how social cognition capacities develop from birth.

Gelman, who joined U-M in 1984, is a demanding educator to whom students respond because of her enthusiasm for the subject matter and her openness. She has chaired more than a dozen doctorate dissertation committees, and supported nine postdoctoral fellows. She has served on the LSA Executive Committee and Committee to Review Tenure Practices, as assistant to the dean of faculty appointments, and as associate dean. She also has served as president of the Cognitive Development Society. Gelman is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Association, and Cognitive Science Society. She holds the APA Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution, and U-M’s Henry Russel Award and Faculty Recognition Award. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.

From The University Record, Oct. 7th, 2013 edition.