Glushko Dissertation Prize

The Cognitive Science Society and the Glushko-Samuelson Foundation will award up to five outstanding dissertation prizes in cognitive science. The goals of these prizes are to increase the prominence of cognitive science, and encourage students to engage in interdisciplinary efforts to understand minds and intelligent systems. The hope is that the prizes will recognize and honor young researchers conducting ground-breaking research in cognitive science. The eventual goal is to aid in efforts to bridge between the areas of cognitive science and create theories of general interest to the multiple fields concerned with scientifically understanding the nature of minds and intelligent systems. Promoting a unified cognitive science is consistent with the belief that understanding how minds work will require the synthesis of many different empirical methods, formal tools, and analytic theories. 2011 was the inaugural year of this prize, and a new competition is held annually.

The prizes are funded by the Robert J. Glushko and Pamela Samuelson Fund, based in San Francisco.

Robert J. Glushko is an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley who received a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology in 1979 under David Rumelhart’s supervision. He is an Adjunct Full Professor in the Cognitive Science Program at the University of California, Berkeley. He also funds the David E. Rumelhart Prize for Contributions to the Theoretical Foundations of Human Cognition.

Up to five Robert J. Glushko Dissertation/Ph.D. Thesis Prizes in Cognitive Science will be awarded annually. Each prize will be accompanied by a certificate and a $10,000 award to be used by the recipient without any constraints. Prize winners will also receive three years of complimentary membership in the Cognitive Science Society starting with the year in which they have won the prize.

Prize-winners must have received a PhD degree no more than two years before the January 20 nomination deadline. For the 2023 prizes, dissertations will be considered from individuals who received their PhD degrees during the period from January 20, 2021 to January 20, 2023.

Prize-winning dissertations/Ph.D. theses are expected to transcend any one of the individual fields comprising cognitive science. They should centrally address issues of interest to multiple fields that comprise cognitive science, including: psychology, computer science, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, neuroscience, and education.
The dissertation/Ph.D. thesis prizes are open to any student who has conducted dissertation/thesis research related to cognitive science, regardless of nationality or originating department.

Prize Committee

The Robert J. Glushko Prize is administered by the Prize Selection Committee in consultation with the Glushko-Samuelson Foundation. 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, and are appointed by the Governing Board of The Cognitive Science Society in consultation with the Glushko-Samuelson Foundation. A representative of the Foundation also serves on the Prize Selection Committee.

Jessica Cantlon (Chair), Professor of Developmental Neuroscience/Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University
Morgan Barense, Professor of Neuropsychology, University of Toronto
Todd Gureckis, Professor of Psychology, New York University
Natasha Kirkham, Professor of Developmental Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London
Jeffrey Lidz, Professor of Linguistics, University of Maryland
Alison Peterman, Professor of Philosophy, University of Rochester


1. Nominations are open from November 30, 2023 – January 18, 2024. Self-nominations are welcome. Awardees will be announced by May 2024.

2. The Glushko Dissertation Prize seeks to recognize an outstanding coherent program of research. We will expect a winning dissertation, whether a continuous narrative or a collection of papers, to articulate an overall research agenda, and explain how the elements of the research contribute to it.

3. Candidates for the award, or an advisor who nominates a candidate, must submit the nomination (including all supporting documentation) using the online portal by the deadline above.

  • All details of the nominee including the name and current contact information for the candidate, title of the dissertation, Ph.D. institution, date on which the Ph.D. was awarded, and contact information for the two faculty who will be contributing letters of support.
  • A curriculum vitae of the candidate
  • The dissertation itself
  • A précis of no more than 4,000 words (references do not count in the word limit) written by the candidate describing the dissertation research. This description should clearly express the importance, novelty, and interdisciplinary contribution of the dissertation. The précis should be suitable for review by a broad spectrum of cognitive scientists.

4.  Nominators (including self-nominators/candidates) must arrange for 2 letters of support from faculty members to be sent no later than January 18, 2024 to complete their nomination. All letters must be sent directly to cogsci[at], ensuring that the name of the nominee is included in the subject line.

To submit you will be required to create a login. Please note: if you are already a CSS member or you attended CogSci 2022, you’ll already have a login. You can reset your password if you have forgotten it.

The deadline for receiving letters of support is January 18, 2024.

Glushko Prize Winners

2023 Winners

Valentina Bruno – 2021 PhD thesis “Motor awareness: From pathological models to normal functioning” from University of Turin

Frederick Callaway – 2022 PhD thesis “Cognition as a sequential decision problem” from Princeton University

Samuel Cheyette – 2021 PhD thesis “Making sense of number, bit-by-bit” from University of California, Berkeley

Erin Isbilen – 2021 PhD thesis “Statistical learning as chunking: Domain-general computations in language acquisition” from Cornell University

Mathias Sablé-Meyer – 2022 PhD thesis “Human cognition of geometric shapes, a window into the mental representation of abstract concepts” from Université PSL, prepared at Collège de France

2022 Winners

Kelsey Allen – 2021 PhD thesis “Learning to act with objects, relations and physics” from Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Carolyn Baer – 2020 PhD thesis “Developing a sense of certainty” from University of British Columbia

Judy Sein Kim – 2020 PhD thesis “’Visual’ knowledge in the absence of visual experience” from Johns Hopkins University

Sebastian Musslick – 2021 PhD thesis “On the rational bounds of cognitive control” from Princeton University

Tim Sainburg – 2021 PhD thesis “Temporal organization in vocal communication: sequential structure, perceptual integration, and neural foundations” from University of California, San Diego

2021 Winners

Esti Blanco-Elorrieta – 2020 PhD thesis “Towards an ecologically valid neurobiology of bilingualism”, from New York University: précis

Laura Gwilliams – 2020 PhD thesis “Towards a mechanistic account of speech comprehension in the human brain” from New York University: précis

Andrew Lampinen – 2020 PhD thesis “A computational framework for learning and transforming task representations” from Stanford University: précis

Shari Liu – 2020 PhD thesis “Nature and origins of intuitive psychology in human infants” from Harvard University: précis

Vencislav Popov – 2020 PhD thesis “Resource depletion and recovery in human memory” from Carnegie Mellon University: précis

James Whittington – 2020 PhD thesis “A Bayesian account of learning and generalising representations in the brain” from University of Oxford: précis

2020 Winners

Damián Blasi – 2018 PhD thesis “Linguistic Diversity Through Data,” from Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, précis

Stephen Ferrigno – 2018 PhD thesis “The Evolutionary and Developmental Origins of Human Thought,” from University of Rochester, précis

Shipra Kanjlia – 2018 PhD thesis “Preservation and Plasticity in the Neural Basis of Numerical Thinking in Blindness,” from Johns Hopkins University, précis

Falk Lieder – 2018 PhD thesis “Beyond Bounded Rationality: Reverse-Engineering and Enhancing Human Intelligence,” from University of California, Berkeley, précis

Sebastian Michelmann – 2018 PhD thesis “Temporal Dynamics and Mechanisms of Oscillatory Pattern Reinstatement in Human Episodic Memory,” from University of Birmingham, précis

Laurel Perkins – 2019 PhD thesis “How Grammars Grow: Argument Structure and the Acquisition of Non-basic Syntax,” from University of Maryland, précis

Leor Zmigrod – 2019 PhD thesis “The Cognitive Underpinnings of Ideological Thinking,” from University of Cambridge, précis

2019 Winners

Kirsten Adam – 2018 PhD thesis “Characterizing the limits of visual working memory,” from University of Chicago, précis

Max Kleiman-Weiner – 2018 PhD thesis “Computational foundations of human social intelligence,” from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, précis

Martin Maier – 2018 PhD thesis “Language, meaning, and visual perception: Event-related potentials reveal top-down influences on early visual processing,” from Humboldt University, précis

Jean-Paul Noel – 2018 PhD thesis “Leveraging multisensory neurons, circuits, brains, and bodies to study consciousness: From the outside-in and the inside-out,” from Vanderbilt University, précis

Katharine Tillman – 2017 PhD thesis “Constructing the concept of time: Roles of language, perception, and culture,” from University of California, San Diego, précis

2018 Winners

Melody Dye – 2017 PhD thesis “Bridging Levels of Analysis: Learning, Information Theory, and the Lexicon ” from Indiana University, précis

Chaz Firestone – 2017 PhD thesis “Cognition Does Not Affect Perception” from Yale University, précis

Sagi Jaffe-Dax – 2016 PhD thesis  “Neural Basis and Computational Account for Dyslexia” from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, précis

Eric Schulz – 2017 PhD thesis “Towards a Unifying Theory of Generalization” from University College London, précis

Michelle Spierings – 2016 PhD thesis “The Music of Language: Exploring Grammar, Prosody and Rhythm Perception” from Leiden University, précis

2017 Winners

Alexandra Carstensen – 2016 PhD thesis “Universals and variation in language and thought: Concepts, communication, and semantic structure” from University of California, Berkeley, précis

Judith Ellen Fan, 2016 PhD thesis “Role of cognitive actions in learning” from Princeton University, précis

Julian Jara-Ettinger, 2016 PhD thesis “The inner life of goals: Costs, rewards, and commonsense psychology” from MIT, précis

Samuel G. B. Johnson,  2016 PhD thesis “Cognition as sense-making” from Yale University, précis

Dave F. Kleinschmidt,  2016 PhD thesis “Perception in a variable but structured world: The case of speech perception” from University of Rochester, précis

2016 Winners

Lang Chen, PhD thesis “White matter connectivity explains category-specific brain activation and impairment: A neurocomputational model of semantic cognition” from University of Wisconsin – Madison, précis

Isabelle Dautriche, PhD thesis “Weaving an ambiguous lexicon” from University of Paris Descartes and Ecole Normale Supérieure, précis

Jan Engelmann, PhD thesis “An empirical investigation of the evolutionary and ontogenetic roots of trust” from Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, précis

Philip Pärnamets, PhD thesis “Observing and influencing preferences in time” from Lund University, précis

Andrew Saxe, PhD thesis “Deep linear neural networks: A theory of learning in the brain and mind” from Stanford University, précis

2015 Winners

Harm Brouwer – 2014 PhD thesis “The Electrophysiology of Language Comprehension: A Neurocomputational Model” from University of Groningen, précis

Da Cheong (Jena) Hwang – 2014 PhD thesis “Identification and Representation of Caused Motion Constructions” from University of Colorado, précis

Brenden Lake – 2014 PhD thesis “Towards more human-like concept learning in machines: Compositionality, causality, and learning-to-learn” from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, précis

Jessica Sullivan – 2014 PhD thesis “The Roles of Inference and Associative Learning in the Construction of Mappings Between Number Words and Numerical Magnitudes” from University of California – San Diego, précis

2014 Winners

Samuel Gershman – 2013 PhD thesis “Memory Modification in the Brain: Computational and Experimental Investigations” from Princeton University, précis

Celeste Kidd – 2013 PhD thesis “Rational Approaches to Learning and Development” from University of Rochester, précis

Victoria Leong – 2013 PhD thesis “Speech Rhythm Cognition : A Multi-Disciplinary Account” from University of Cambridge, précis

Ian Lyons – 2012 PhD thesis “A Sense of Order: Ordinality and the meaning of symbolic numbers” from University of Chicago, précis

Takao Sasaki – 2013 PhD thesis “Psychology Of A Superorganism” from Arizona State University, précis

2013 Winners

Douglas Knox Bemis – 2012 PhD thesis “Simple Composition During Language Processing: An MEG Investigation” from New York University, précis

Neil Cohn – 2012 PhD thesis “Structure, Meaning, and Constituency in Visual Narrative Comprehension” from Tufts University, précis

George Kachergis – 2012 PhD thesis “Mechanisms for Cross-Situational Learning of Word-Referent Mappings: Empirical and Modeling Evidence” from Indiana University,précis

Andrew Lovett – 2012 PhD thesis “Spatial Routines for Sketches: A Framework for Modeling Spatial Problem Solving” from Northwestern University, précis

Liad Mudrik – 2011 PhD thesis “Processing Visual Context Violations: The Roles of Attention and Awareness” from Tel Aviv University, précis

2012 Winners

Timothy F. Brady – 2011 PhD thesis “Structured Representations in Visual Working Memory” from MIT – précis

Jennifer L. Culbertson – 2010 PhD thesis “Learning Biases, Regularization, and the Emergence of Typological Universals in Syntax” from Johns Hopkins University- précis

Nazbanou Nozari – 2011 PhD thesis “Is Comprehension Necessary for Error Detection? A Conflict-based Account of Monitoring in Speech Production” from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign- précis

Steven T. Piantadosi – 2011 PhD thesis “Learning and the language of thought” from MIT-précis

Rachel Wu – 2011 PhD thesis “Learning (to Learn) from Spatial Attention Cues During Infancy” from Birkbeck, University of London – précis

2011 Winners

Vera Demberg-Winterfors – 2010 PhD thesis “A Broad-Coverage Model of Prediction in Human Sentence Processing” from The University of Edinburgh – précis

Michael Frank – 2010 PhD thesis “Early Word Learning Through Communicative Inference” from MIT- précis

Chi-Tat Law – 2009 PhD thesis “Mechanisms of learning a visual motion discrimination task” from University of Pennsylvania- précis

Eric Mandelbaum – 2010 PhD thesis “The Architecture of Belief: An Essay on the Unbearable Automaticity of Believing” from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill – précis

Edward Vul – 2010 PhD thesis “Sampling in human cognition” from MIT – précis

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.

society secretariat

Podium Conference & Association Specialists
#124-4730 University Way NE 104
Seattle, WA 98105
phone: 1-888-472-7644


Contact Us