Patricia Kuhl

Outstanding Achievement Award Recipient

College of Liberal Arts, April 12, 2007

Patricia Kuhl earned a master’s degree in speech science (1971) and her Ph.D. in speech and psychology (1973) from the University of Minnesota. Currently she is the co-director of the University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences in Seattle, Washington, a Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences, and holds adjunct appointments in the Departments of Psychology and otolaryngology. Her research has reshaped concepts of infants’ language acquisition and cognitive processing in the brain. In 1975, her research on chinchilla speech perception was published in Science. This groundbreaking work showed that humans are not the only species to perceive speech sounds in a categorical rather than continuous way. Her current work shows how neuronal development of the human brain becomes specialized to the native language in the first year of life. She is considered one of the most prominent and internationally respected scientists in the research and public policy arenas about how humans communicate. She is described as a committed leader in her professional field both as a peer and a mentor. She served as the first woman president of the Acoustical Society of America and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Silver Medal from the Acoustical Society of America. She was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2005, she received the Kenneth Craik Research Award from the University of Cambridge. She was one of six scientists invited to the White House in 1997 by President and Mrs. Clinton to speak at the Early Learning and Brain Conference and was invited again in 2001 by President and Mrs. Bush to speak at the White House Summit on Early Cognitive Development. She is the co-author of The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn and has appeared on several television shows, including PBS NOVA, CNN, NBC’s The Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, and NBC Nightly News.

Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.