Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Graduate School News and Events

Outstanding Alumni

Michael Anderson Wins Fellowship to Study Brain at Stanford

Michael Anderson (PhD 1996, Philosophy), assistant professor of psychology at Franklin & Marshall College, has been selected as one of the 2012-13 Fellows at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. During his fellowship year, he will embark on a book project exploring theories of brain architecture, building on his research on the evolution of cognitive functions. He will join a community of scholars from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology.

Anderson’s research, ground-breaking and controversial, offers a new understanding of the evolution and development of the brain, the modularity of brain organization, and the degree of localization of cognitive function. His landmark article, published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 2010, argues that ‘neural reuse’ and ‘embodied cognition’ help explain human cognition and behavior. ‘Neural reuse’ describes cognitive function as the result of regions of the brain interacting, rather than specializing in specific tasks.

“Individual regions of the brain are part of different teams,” he says. “I can have different roles, like being a father, husband, teacher, and researcher. I think the brain is also like that. The regions of the brain aren’t specialized.” ‘Embodied cognition’ argues that the brain is not the sole organ used to gain knowledge.

The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, founded in 1954, has hosted generations of scholars and scientists. Former Fellows include 22 Nobel Laureates, 14 Pulitzer Prize winners, 44 winners of MacArthur “Genius Awards,” and hundreds of members of the National Academies.

Annette Insdorf Publishes New Book on Prizewinning Film Director

The University of Illinois Press has published Philip Kaufman, the latest book by Annette Insdorf (PhD 1975, English), director of Undergraduate Film Studies at Columbia University and a professor in the Graduate Film Division of Columbia’s School of the Arts. Her book is part of the “Contemporary Film Directors” series. In April, Insdorf and Kaufman introduced a screening of two of his classics, The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Right Stuff, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, opening a retrospective of Kaufman’s work. HBO will premiere Kaufman’s new film, Hemingway & Gellhorn (starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen) on May 28, and it will be an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival. Insdorf will speak on Kaufman at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. on July 29.

Insdorf’s previous books are Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski; Francois Truffaut; and Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust, whose updated third edition received the National Board of Review’s William K. Everson Award in Film History. She has interviewed over 100 film celebrities, including Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Daniel Day-Lewis, Pedro Almodovar, John Travolta, and Al Pacino, for her popular “Reel Pieces” series at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y. She is the recipient of the 2008 Award for Excellence in Teaching from Columbia University’s School of General Studies. Insdorf taught film history and criticism at Yale from 1975 to 1988.

Elm-Ivy Award Goes to YEI Founder James Boyle

James Boyle (PhD 1994, Engineering & Applied Science), co-founder and director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI), was honored with a Yale University Seton Elm-Ivy Award in April. The award was presented by President Richard C. Levin and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.

While earning his PhD in Chemical Engineering, Boyle started his own business developing instruments for characterizing trace biomolecules, with the support of the National Institutes of Health. He later commercialized these devices as a Yale startup. He then co-founded a predictive analytics consulting practice that provided technical and pricing guidance on new product development to Fortune 1000 companies in the scientific equipment industry. He worked in the Yale Office of Cooperative Research (OCR), where he focused on the licensing and venture startup of a number of engineering-based technologies.

In 2007, with a core group of alumni, students and administrators, Boyle created the YEI. He now runs the Institute, which helps students develop and launch their own innovative businesses in and around New Haven.

Since its inception, YEI has helped foster over 45 student-founded ventures which have raised a total of $37 million of investment capital and created more than 130 full-time jobs, approximately one-third of which remain in New Haven. In addition, for the past five years, YEI has run a 10-week summer program for Yale students who want to learn how to start businesses. By the end of the program, students have a solid business plan and are able to seek seed-stage funding for their projects.

Michael Anderson, Annette Insdorf, and James Boyle

Anderson photo: Tim Brixius, Franklin & Marshall College