Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 01/04/2012


Lea Cosmides, Ph.D., Class of 1975
Center for Evolutionary Psychology
University of California, Santa Barbara

I had a fantastic time at the American Academy of Achievement. In one weekend I met people from more walks of life than I have before or since — Ray Charles, Colonel Sanders, Caspar Weinberger. But my favorite was Isaac Asimov, who loved hanging out with the kids!

Lea Cosmides is best known for her work pioneering the new field of evolutionary psychology. This multidisciplinary new approach weaves together evolutionary biology, cognitive science, human evolution, hunter-gatherer studies, neuroscience, and psychology to discover the mechanisms of the human mind and brain. By understanding the adaptive problems our hunter-gatherer ancestors faced during their evolution, Dr. Cosmides and her colleagues can uncover the detailed functional designs of the emotions, reasoning “instincts” and motivations produced by human evolution.

Dr. Cosmides is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she and her husband, Dr. John Tooby, co-direct the Center for Evolutionary Psychology. She was educated at Harvard (Ph.D.) and Stanford (postdoctoral), and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Awards for her research include the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Behavioral Science Research, the American Psychological Association’s Early Career Award, and a J. S. Guggenheim Fellowship.

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