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The 2009 Joseph Priestley Award:
Elizabeth Loftus
October 15, 2009

What's the matter with memory? Plenty, according to Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., a distinguished professor and recognized expert in the field. Loftus explained the controversies surrounding this unreliable human resource during an Oct. 15 lecture at Dickinson College.

The author of 22 books, Loftus has researched human memory, eyewitness testimony and courtroom procedure for 20 years. Her work has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation, and she has been an expert witness consultant in hundreds of cases, including the trials of the Hillside Strangler, Oliver North, the policemen who beat Rodney King, the Menendez brothers, Michael Jackson, Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby and the Duke University Lacrosse players.

Loftus was awarded the 2009 Joseph Priestley Award for her contributions to society's understanding of childhood abuse and traumatic recovered memories. Named for a Pennsylvania scientist and scholar who discovered oxygen, the annual award honors distinguished scientists whose research contributes to the welfare of humankind.

Return to main award page.
Read the press release for this event.

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Elizabeth Loftus
Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D. outlines techniques that can be used to plant false memories.

Elizabeth Loftus
Neil Weissman, provost and dean of the college (at podium), presents the 2009 Joseph Priestley Award to Elizabeth Loftus (right).

Elizabeth Loftus
Loftus speaks to Dickinson students in a classroom setting. She is a distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine, where she holds positions in the departments of psychology & social behavior and criminology, law & society. Loftus also is a professor of law. 

Elizabeth Loftus
Elizabeth Loftus, PhD., (above) contends that many have been led to remember non-existent events that would have been highly traumatic had they actually happened. The personal, professional and legal consequences of these false beliefs are profound.

Elizabeth Loftus
Loftus poses with the 2009 Joseph Priestley Award. Loftus received the award in honor of her contributions to the field of human memory research.

Elizabeth Loftus
Above and below: Loftus speaks to Dickinson students. A study published by the Review of General Psychology identified the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century.  At number 58, Loftus was the top-ranked woman on the list.  

The audience in ATS.


Photos by A. Pierce Bounds '71