“This is not a society that you are first a member and then you get elected a fellow,” she explained. “This is a society that is really small, but has a very elite membership, and all of them are really eminent researchers and scholars.”
SEP was founded in 1904 by Edward Bradford Titchener, a British-born psychologist who later taught at Cornell University and helped establish experimental psychology in the United States. The society has two functions: to honor its members, and to gather annually to hear research presentations by fellows.
Newcombe’s election by SEP marks the fifth professional society or association to which she has been elected a fellow. She has previously been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association.
“The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is across all disciplines, so it is more nationally visible,” said Newcombe. “The election by SEP is different and very nice because it is being honored by your peers, the people who really know what you are doing in your field. So being named in each is special in its own way.”
Co-director of Temple’s Infant Lab at Ambler, Newcombe is a nationally recognized expert in cognitive development, specifically spatial development and memory development.
In 2006, she was awarded a two-year, $3.5 million grant by the National Science Foundation to establish a Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center. Newcombe serves as the principal investigator for the grant, which has the potential to reach $15 million in funding over five years, and includes key researchers from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania.
“It is really moving along and becoming more and more of a center,” said Newcombe. “We are making more and more contacts, both nationally and internationally, and we are at the point where we are beginning to plan some conferences and major projects.”