Brandeis Psychology PhD Alumna Elected to AAAS

Brandeis University congratulates Judith Kroll for her election as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, April 22, 2021.  Dr. Kroll received her Masters and PhD degrees in the Brandeis Department of Psychology and is currently Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Linguistics, and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Irvine.  The election honors the rigor and breadth of Dr. Kroll’s research into the science of bilingualism.

Over her career, she has studied bilingualism for its own sake and as a tool for unveiling general cognitive and brain process.  She has discovered how a second language is learned and how it co-evolves with the native language, what brain systems are shared, what previously unknown cognitive processes must be present to permit bilingualism.  For example, she showed that when a bilingual speaks or listens to one language the other language is active, as measured by brain activity and cognitive priming.  Her work has also changed the perspective on bilingualism from being a capacity that competes with others to being one that enhances non-language specific capabilities such as information filtering and multi-tasking.  One of her intriguing findings in this domain is that monolinguals in a bilingual compared to a monolingual living situation show increased sensitivity to distinctions between heard language features in measures of brain activity before behavioral distinctions are evident.  Her discoveries have had impacts in education and medicine, where, for example, the task-switching and perceptual discrimination advantages of bilinguals have been shown to accelerate learning for children in a range of school subjects and to be associated with delayed onset of Alzheimer’s Disease in aging.  Dr. Kroll has pioneered multiple new linguistic technologies and analytic systems that were necessary for the rigor of her own work and have become widely used by others.

Dr. Kroll is active not only in the laboratory but has taken the lead in science in society.  For example, she is the principal investigator for an NSF Partnerships for International Research and Education Grant for “Translating Cognitive and Brain Science in the Laboratory and Field to Language Learning Environments”, and she is the co-Founder of Women in Cognitive Science.  An enduring trait of Dr. Kroll is her gracious, generous acknowledgement of the collaborators who have contributed to her scientific and societal work.  Many current Brandeis faculty have inspiring memories of visiting Dr. Kroll when she at Penn State, and seeing her dedication to mentoring such a large and vibrant group of students of all levels.

 

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