Barbara Dosher, UCI dean of social sciences and Distinguished Professor of cognitive sciences, is the 2013 recipient of the UCI Distinguished Faculty Award for Research. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the UCI Academic Senate in recognition of faculty research excellence.

An experimental cognitive scientist, Dosher has spent her nearly 40-year academic career conducting research on distinct forms and processes of attention, memory and perceptual learning. Understanding these processes at the basic science level, she says, is key in knowing how best to mitigate losses for those with deficiencies and disorders. When attentional processes are disrupted or altered, performance of activities such as listening and learning can suffer, as is often the case for those with diagnosed cases of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder  and less so, but still observed in, schizophrenia and stress disorders. By understanding the sub-types of attention that normally operate, her work helps in identifying what can go wrong in disorders or with information overload.

Her early research changed the way researchers formulate two important aspects of memory. Her findings provided strong evidence that, unless instructed otherwise, both long-term and short-term memory retrieval are conducted in parallel, and common processes occur in forgetting of so-called implicit and explicit or conscious memory.

Her findings have been published widely in such major journals as the Psychological Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Psychological Science, Vision Research, and Journal of Memory & Language. Her research has been funded through multi-million dollar grants from the National Eye Institute, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, National Institute of Mental Health and National Science Foundation, among others.

Dosher received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of California, San Diego and her master's and doctorate degrees in experimental psychology from the University of Oregon. She was a professor of psychology at Columbia University for 15 years before she joined the UCI faculty in 1992.

That same year, she was elected as a fellow to the Society of Experimental Psychologists and the American Psychological Society. In 2002, she was named dean of social sciences and in 2011, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She was named a UCI Distinguished Professor in 2012, and in March, she received the oldest and one of the most prestigious awards in experimental psychology, the Howard Crosby Warren Medal from the Society of Experimental Psychologists.  

She is currently serving her final year of a four-year term on the Board of Directors of the Vision Sciences Society and will be stepping down as dean this summer.

Dosher will be honored for her research accomplishments at the Academic Senate Distinguished Award Banquet in the fall. Additional honorees include Paul Dourish, informatics professor, Distinguished Mid-Career Faculty Award for Research; Kevork Abazajian, physics and astronomy associate professor, Distinguished Assistant Professor Award for Research; Mahtab Jafari, pharmaceutical sciences associate professor, Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching; Sarah Eichhorn, mathematics lecturer with potential security of employment, Distinguished Assistant Professor Award for Teaching;  Henry Pontell, criminology, law and society professor, Daniel G. Aldrich, Jr. Distinguished University Service Award; and John Dombrink, criminology, law and society professor, Distinguished Mid-Career Faculty Award for Service.


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