New Assistant Professor Expert on Space, Number Representations


Posted 10/16/07
Anna Shusterman has joined the Department of Psychology as an assistant professor of psychology. This semester she is teaching PSYCH110, “Issues in Contemporary Psychology: What Makes Us Human?”

Shusterman’s research interests are on the structure and development of mental representations, interactions between language and cognitive development, and representations of space and number.

She comes to Wesleyan from Harvard University, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory for Developmental Studies.

“Wesleyan has provided me with everything I need to do my research, including a beautiful new child development laboratory,” she says. “I also appreciate that Wesleyan values both research and teaching, which is important to me and very hard to find at many institutions.”

Shusterman received a bachelor of science in neuroscience from Brown University in 1998, and a Ph.D in developmental psychology from Harvard University in 2006.

At Harvard, she was the recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Student Research Fellowship between 2003-06; the McMaster Restricted Funds Grant in 2006 for her project “Spatial language and cognition in Nicaraguan Sign Language”; the Mind/Brain/Behavior Graduate Student Grant in 2005; the Stimson Restricted Funds Grant in 2005 for her project “The Comprehensive Survey on Trichotillomania.”

Shusterman is an active member in the Cognitive Development Society and Society for Research on Child Development; an Ad hoc reviewer for Cognition; a past organizer for The Diversity of Children’s Spatial Representations symposium and at the 4th Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society; and co-founder of the Harvard-MIT Philosophy & Experimental Psychology Reading Group.

She is the co-author of several articles, including “Reorientation and landmark-guided search in children: Evidence for two systems,” published in Psychological Science in 2006; and “Language and the development of spatial reasoning,” published in The Structure of the Innate Mind by Oxford University Press in 2005. She also has several articles under revision or in preparation.

She has presented at more than a dozen conferences, most recently at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development March 29 in Boston, Mass. She will speak on “Does spatial language guide spatial representation? Evidence from Nicaraguan Sign Language” during the Fifth Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society, Santa Fe, N.M. this year.

In addition to teaching, Shusterman has worked as a research supervisor and reading/research advisor for undergraduates from Wesleyan, Harvard, and other institutions participating in cognitive development research for work-study, Research Methods, Advanced Methods, Honors thesis projects, and summer internship program since 2002.

The Wesleyan students, she says, are a pleasure to be around, work with and teach.

“I came in with high expectations of the students, and my expectations are exceeded every day in new and surprising ways,” she says.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor