Dr Lisa Feldman Barrett, one of the world’s most respected scientists in the field of human emotion, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Waikato last night.
Dr Barrett’s research has radically challenged the prevailing wisdom about how the human brain and body work together to create emotions. She shows that our emotions are not built into our brains from birth, to be triggered outside forces, but events that our brains construct, shaped by our experiences, our language, and our culture.
As a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr Barrett’s work in cognitive, social and affective neuroscience has significant implications for both everyday and high-stakes interactions.
Her book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, brought Dr Barrett’s work to a general audience, while five other scholarly books and more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers reflect the impact of her research on a range of fields.
An honorary doctorate is the University’s most prestigious honour and University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley says it is in recognition of Dr Barrett’s substantial and ongoing contribution to the field of psychology, and pioneering approach to human emotion.
“It has been a privilege to welcome Dr Barrett to New Zealand as part of the New Zealand Writers Festival, and it is an opportunity for us to recognise her contribution to her field,” says Professor Quigley.
Dr Barrett is honoured to receive this prestigious award, and hopes it is the beginning of a strong association between herself and the University.
“It is with deep gratitude and much affection that I accept this award. It is a great privilege to work as a scientist, discovering how human minds are created from human brains and bodies. It is an even greater privilege to have the opportunity to shape those minds as an educator. I’m delighted to join your scholarly community.”
Dr Barrett is the current President of Association for Psychological Science, a global organisation of more than 30,000 members. She is also an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada.
Dr Barrett spoke in a public event at the University last night as part of the New Zealand Writers Festival.