Lila R. Gleitman Prize

The Cognitive Science Society is pleased to announce the Lila R. Gleitman Prize for Early-Career Contributions to Cognitive Science in honor of Lila R. Gleitman’s foundational role in the field of cognitive science. The recipient will be an early-career woman in cognitive science whose outstanding research and scholarly promise best represent the intellectual depth, ingenuity and significance of the work carried out by Lila R. Gleitman throughout her long scientific career. The prize is jointly directed by the Cognitive Science Society Governing Board and the leadership of the Society for Language Development which Gleitman founded and led for many years.

The recipient of the prize will be honored at the Cognitive Science Society’s Annual Meeting in a ceremony in which a framed certificate and a monetary award of $35,000 will be presented. In addition, the recipient will be invited to give a talk on her work during one of the regular sessions of the Annual Meeting.


Lila R. Gleitman, a winner of the David E. Rumelhart Prize for her contributions to the theoretical foundations of human cognition, passed away on August 8, 2021. Gleitman was Professor Emerita of Psychology and Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, and a pioneering figure in the field of modern cognitive science.

In a career that spanned six decades, Gleitman made numerous foundational discoveries in the study of language and cognition. She is particularly known for her research on how children acquire language, how language and thought are related, and the role of syntax in shaping the direction of word learning.

Gleitman was widely recognized for her influential research: She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and an elected fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She served as President of the Society for Language Development, the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and the Linguistic Society of America.

Gleitman was a legendary mentor who trained a long and distinguished list of psycholinguists, many of whom went on to become central figures in the field. In 1991, Gleitman co-founded the famous Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at Penn, which she co-directed until 2001. Under her leadership, the Institute became a model for promoting interactions between psychology, linguistics, computer science, philosophy, neuroscience and other branches of inquiry that contribute to the computational study of the mind.

Read more about Dr. Gleitman:


Nomination - NOW OPEN

The Gleitman Prize nominations process will be open from October 16  to December 16, 2023.  

The committee does not accept self-nominations. To qualify for nominations,

  • Nominees must self-identify as women.
  • Nominees must be within 10 years of completing their PhD degree, medical degree, or other type of doctorate by dissertation. The 10 years can be extended by maternity leave(s), care-taking leave(s), career breaks, or other relevant leaves of absence. Details of these absences should be specified during the nomination process.
  • At the time of the nomination, nominees must be conducting research in cognitive science; any sub-field of cognitive science is welcome.

Please note that nominations will be active for two years. We ask that nominators whose candidates will roll over from last year update materials for their nominees, if they wish.

Nominations should include the following materials:

  • a two-page statement of nomination outlining how the scientific merit, theoretical contributions and impact of the nominee’s research exemplify the intellectual depth, ingenuity and significance of Gleitman’s work and merit recognition through this award.
  • a complete curriculum vitae for the nominee
  • Pdf copies of 5 of the nominee’s most significant publications, including at least one overview, e.g. a TICS paper, an integrative chapter, etc. Alternatively, in place of an overview paper, we will also accept a 2-3 page research statement written by the nominee that provides an overview of their research program.
  • names and contact information of two individuals who could provide supporting letters (these letters will be requested for shortlisted nominees only)

Materials should be sent to the Society Secretariat by December 16, 2023 for the attention of the Chair of the Gleitman Prize Committee.

Selection Committee

The Gleitman Prize is administered by the Prize Selection Committee.  Screening of nominees and selection of the prize winner will be performed by the Prize Selection Committee. Scientific members (including the Chair) of the Prize Selection Committee will serve for up to two four-year terms.  Selection of the prize recipients will strive to achieve disciplinary balance and diversity (within the eligible pool) broadly construed, and recognize professional integrity.

Committee members:

Marlene Behrmann, University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University
Ulrike Hahn, Birkbeck University of London
Barbara Landau (Committee Chair), Johns Hopkins University
Elissa Newport, Georgetown University
Kia Nobre, University of Oxford

Donation to the Gleitman Prize Endowment 

A special fund for the Gleitman Prize has been created through contributions in Gleitman’s honor by her family, students, colleagues, and other members of the field. We invite anyone who wishes to recognize Lila R. Gleitman and her pioneering role in cognitive science to donate specifically for this purpose. Such donations will enable the Society to recognize Gleitman’s legendary life in science long into the future.

If you would like to donate by check or another mechanism, or if you have any questions, please contact Erica Wojcik, Executive Officer at .

Tax efficient giving The Cognitive Science Society is a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Code, so US donors can qualify for an income tax deduction to the limits allowed by law. It also is possible to give tax efficiently through Transnational Giving Europe from the following European countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. To donate and claim tax relief please contact your national foundations and explain that you wish to make a gift to the Cognitive Science Society.

2023 Recipient

Talia Konkle

Talia Konkle is the recipient of the Inaugural Lila R. Gleitman Prize (2023).  In the first decade of her career, Konkle has made a range of theoretically important, highly original, and rigorous contributions to cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience in our understanding of how the visual system computes representations of objects.  She has used behavioral, neural, and computational modelling methods to converge on answers to the question of how the mind perceives objects and how the brain computes the representations that lead to those perceptions. Examining the mappings of neural responses across the cortex, she has gained insight into the brain’s cognitive architecture, and has developed computational theories that help explain how and why the mind is organized the way it is. Her work has been characterized as embodying the creativity of an artist, the analytic rigor of a scientist, and the technical skill of an engineer.   Konkle has shown deep and active commitment to creating and openly sharing her science and research tools with the vision science community.  She is also known as a gifted communicator and a devoted mentor to younger scholars.

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Konkle’s contributions include introducing novel ideas about the way that objects and scenes are represented in the brain, bringing new ideas about the role of real-world object size and the space we use to reach objects (‘reachspace’). Although it has been well-known that objects are represented in the brain as invariant in size and viewpoint, Konkle broke significant new ground by showing that there is a large-scale organization of object information in human cortex that is related to real world size, with some parts of the visual system responding more to small objects like tools, which are reachable and manipulable, while others responded more to large objects, which are often more stable and may matter more for navigation. These findings open the door to considering the theoretical role of ecological factors in the way that the visual system computes object representations. Konkle has also introduced ‘texforms’ (synthetic stimuli) to the stimulus vocabulary for experimental and neural experiments, showing that elements of texture statistics play a stronger role than previous known in object recognition. All of these point to novel underlying mechanisms of object processing and have situated her work in the larger space of understanding how, over time, ecological factors have shaped the brain’s representation and processing of objects.

Konkle is Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. She received her Ph.D. from MIT in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and received a B.A. in Applied Mathematics with Computer Science and one in Cognitive Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Konkle represents the essence of Lila R. Gleitman’s foundational role in cognitive science, by representing the intellectual depth, ingenuity, and significance of the work carried out by Gleitman throughout her long scientific career. We are delighted to see Talia Konkle break further new ground by becoming the inaugural winner of the Lila R. Gleitman Prize.

Key selected publications:

Tripartite Organization of the Ventral Stream by Animacy and Object Size
Talia Konkle1,2 and Alfonso Caramazza1,2
1Department of Psychology, Harvard University, and 2Center for Mind/Brain Sciences (CiMeC), University of Trento 

Mid-Level Visual Features Underlie the High-Level Categorical Organization of the Ventral Stream
Bria Longa,b, Chen-Ping Yua,c, and Talia Konklea
aDepartment of Psychology, Harvard University; bDepartment of Psychology, Stanford University; and cPhiar Technologies, Inc.

Conceptual Distinctiveness Supports Detailed Visual Long-Term Memory for Real-World Objects
Talia Konkle1, Timothy F. Brady1, George A. Alvarez2 and Aude Oliva1
1Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2Harvard University 

Dimensions Underlying Human Understanding of the Reachable World
Emilie L. Josephs a,c, Martin N. Hebart b, Talia Konkle c
a Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, b Vision and Computational Cognition Group, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and c Psychology Department, Harvard University

Sociality and Interaction Envelope Organize Visual Action Representations
Leyla Tarhan 1 and Talia Konkle 1
1Department of Psychology, Harvard University

The Cognitive Science Society is pleased to announce the establishment of the CogSci Grove which aims to mobilise cognitive scientists to offset carbon emissions associated with their professional activities.  To date, 1681 trees have been planted in protected sites in the Scottish Highlands where they will create homes for wildlife and forests for the future.

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