Faculty Details

Faculty

Deirdre Kramer

 

Title: Professor Emeritus

Areas: Social Psychology/Intradisciplinary Health

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I received my doctorate in Lifespan Developmental Psychology in 1983 from Temple University and undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Education and Human Development in Berlin, West Germany from 1982 to 1984. I came to Rutgers in 1984 and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1990. In 1994, I returned to school to study Clinical Psychology and earned my Certificate of Postdoctoral Respecialization in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1998. In addition to my academic responsibilities, I have a private practice in Highland Park.

My early research focused on the ways in which adults continue to develop cognitively and intellectually across the adult lifespan. In particular, I studied postformal operational thinking and wisdom, as well as the interface between emotion and cognition (i.e., the ways in which emotional maturity positively impacts cognitive development and judgments about human affairs).

In the last decade or more, my interests have turned toward the clinical, with object relations and self-psychological theories guiding my clinical work and research. These are psychodynamic (“neo-Freudian”) theories that propose that our earliest experiences are internalized in emotional and cognitive structures that influence expectations for interactions with others in the world. These internalized expectations start with our earliest preverbal relationship with parents and other significant figures in our lives and become elaborated and expanded into increasingly complex and stable structures throughout the lifespan. These lead to distortions as well as accuracy in our understanding of present reality and, in turn, have the developmental potential to become more inclusive and accurate in processing both internal and external (often conflictual) experiences. In a “relational” framework, therapy provides clients with the opportunity to rework these structures in the context of a safe, empathic therapeutic bond with another person (the therapist), which typically evokes the conflictual issues and provides opportunities for resolving them.

Since turning my attention to clinical issues, I have worked on a psychobiography of a young woman who committed suicide over 50 years ago and am currently working on a conceptual project exploring the nature of multiplicity and “coconsciousness” in people with and without dissociative disorders.

Sandra Harris

Title: Professor Emeritus

Past Executive Director, Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center

Area: Clinical Psychology

 

Website: gsappweb.rutgers.edu/dddc/

 

 

 

 

Research Interests and Clinical Work:

Behavioral treatment of autism and other severe developmental disabilities;
parent training and the impact of the handicapped child on functioning of the
family.


Profile:

Sandra L. Harris is a Board of Governors Distinguished Service professor of clinical psychology (Emeritus) and executive director of the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, a university-based program for the treatment of children with autism. Her research and clinical interests focus on people with autism and their families. She has written extensively in this area, including several books and dozens of journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Harris consults nationally for schools and organizations that serve people with autism and has served as an expert witness in legal cases concerning the rights of people with developmental disabilities. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, a fellow in the APA divisions of Clinical Psychology and Child and Youth Services and a fellow in the American Psychological Society. Dr. Harris is a licensed practicing psychologist. Her book, Siblings of Children with Autism, received the 1995 Autism Society of America Award for Literary Achievement.  Dr. Harris is still active in the work of the GSAPP Clinical department including being an advisor, directing dissertations and providing support for students.

Judith Stern

 

Title: Professor Emeritus

Area: Behavioral Neuroscience

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I received my Ph.D. in 1970 from Rutgers University in Newark. After several years of post-doctoral research at Stanford University, I joined the faculty of Rutgers-New Brunswick in 1973. My areas of expertise include Behavioral Endocrinology and Developmental Psychobiology. I was long active in the Biopsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience area of the department. My decades-long research on maternal behavior included sensory, experiential, hormonal, and neural aspects; while most of my studies were on rats, I also worked on breast-feeding in women. One of my review papers focused on the role of offspring in inducing maternal behavior, in both animals and humans.

The dynamic, moment-to-moment mother-young interaction that leads to a nursing episode, culminating in milk transfer, was delineated in my laboratory in a long series of studies. This interplay is dependent upon somatosensory reflexes in the mother and her pups. Using this knowledge, we went on to reveal, with visualization of the immediate-early gene, c-fos, the many brain sites active during maternal behavior. In a study at UCSF Medical School, my collaborators and I showed that the representation of the nipple-bearing part of the rat’s ventrum in the somatosensory cortex doubles in size during lactation. This finding is likely indicative of many other brain changes that occur during the parenting experience. Thus, the neural mechanisms underlying maternal behavior vary from reflexive components to cortical plasticity.

My decades-long teaching of sex and gender has led to my current research interests. In Fall 2006 I am launching a new study on emotional, psychological, and physical abuse in dating relationships among Rutgers undergraduates.

George Collier - In Memoriam

GeorgeCollier 

 George H. Collier

 1921-2015

George Henry Collier died at his home in Delaware Township, New Jersey, in the early evening on April 18, 2015.

George was born in Minneapolis on January 3, 1921. His father George was a traveling salesman who worked his way up to become Vice President of his company. His mother Nettie was a homemaker.

One of four siblings, George grew up in the still-small city of Minneapolis, in a neighborhood surrounded by a creek. He led a mischievous boyhood, rambling freely after school, climbing atop the houses that were under construction in that period of suburban expansion. Once, with his parents away on a business trip, he set off a stink bomb in the babysitter’s bedroom, thus gaining for himself and his siblings three days free from adult supervision.

George loved the outdoors, and in high school he and a friend often went canoeing by themselves in the boundary waters of northern Minnesota.

It was a time of depression and drought, but through “some unknown quirk in my wiring,” he later wrote, he remained “an optimist who believed in progress.”

George attended the University of Minnesota from 1939 to 1942, and after a four-year hiatus to help with the war effort, he returned to complete his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in 1947. Prior to the war, he was a work-study student of the renowned behaviorist B. F. Skinner – an experience that would shape his career even as it left him with countless stories to tell about the famous scientist whom he called “Fred.”

In 1947, when he was accepted to Yale’s doctoral program, George received a telegram from Skinner, by then at Indiana, urging him to join the Psychology department there. Though his mentor would soon move to Harvard, George stayed at Indiana, where he memorized The Behavior of Organisms, was briefly married to an older doctoral student, and ultimately completed his Ph.D. in human visual psychophysics in 1951.

While working on his dissertation, George took his first teaching post at Northwestern University. He was so nervous before his first lecture that he scribbled jokes on index cards and read these aloud to the class. It went over well; for a long time afterward he stored jokes in his office filing cabinet.

Duke University offered George his first professorial position in 1951. Five years later, he accepted an offer to work at the University of Missouri, where he switched his research focus to animal learning and behavior.

In 1962, George accepted a tenured position as Professor of Psychology at Rutgers College (now Rutgers University). His first animal laboratory was set up in an old skating rink near campus. Over the next three decades he taught thousands of students while running a research program fueled by dedicated laboratory assistants, many of whom went on to influential academic careers themselves. He directed fifteen doctoral dissertations and countless Master’s and Honors Theses. In 1971 he was named Distinguished Professor.

George served as the Rutgers Psychology Department’s chairman for nine crucial years, during which he built it into a top-tier program through a strategy of recruiting, nurturing, and retaining talented junior faculty. Perhaps the most momentous of the department’s hires during these years was a young specialist in infant memory named Carolyn Rovee. She and George fell in love, married in 1977, and were together almost continuously for the next thirty-seven years.

George’s varied research program received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health for forty-six years. He published nearly 150 articles, his most significant contributions coming in the field of animal nutrition. He worked with cats, rats, ferrets, chickens, guinea pigs, even chinchillas. In his bustling lab on the Rutgers campus – a veritable menagerie – animals raced in their running wheels, pressed bars for food, and were attended by students who not only monitored their behavior but named and cared for them. One lab cat, named Bill, wandered freely in the lab during the day; another roamed the rooftop of the Rutgers Psychology Building.

George’s meticulously designed experiments sought to understand the feeding behavior of animals, specifically how much work an animal was willing to perform to nourish itself, and how an animal could regulate its work output in order to satisfy its highest ingestive desires. He initially adopted some of the radical behaviorism of his mentor Skinner, researching throughout the 1950s and 1960s the physiological determinants of reinforcement by food.

But in the early 1970s his thinking took a sharp turn, as he came to view operant conditioning with a skeptical eye and transformed into what he called an operant ecologist. In this later work George took account of extra-physiological determinants, such as cognitive and environmental stimuli, or an animal’s evolutionary history. One of his most celebrated articles, “The Operant Revisited” (1977), encapsulated the change: “It was a passionate act of scholarship,” one colleague writes, “a scintillating chapter” advocating the new ecological approach while offering “a devastating critique of operant conditioning.”

In the process of developing this new approach, George essentially invented an entire field of research. For his achievements, the Rutgers Board of Trustees in 1986 conferred on him its Distinguished Research Award, and the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior in 1997 honored him with its Distinguished Career Award.

George was a dedicated participant in his professional community. He served as President of the Eastern Psychological Association and as Divisional President of the American Psychological Association; he was a charter member of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, a Fellow of the American Psychological Society and the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and a member of nine other international societies. He sat on the editorial boards of the leading journals in his field.

There was a richness and diversity to George’s life away from the university, as well. The signature event in his development was undoubtedly World War II, which had a profound and enduring impact. George broke off his undergraduate education to enlist in 1942; the Army quickly discerned his intellectual gifts and sent him to Europe to interrogate POW’s and prepare intelligence reports. George arrived in the European theater on April 7, 1943. After D-Day, he was sent to France, where he served in a reconnaissance unit and was engaged in the Rhineland campaign. He was awarded several medals for his service.

George had complex feelings about what he called “Uncle Sam’s Guided Tour.” He rarely spoke about battle itself. Instead he told stories about the many people he met; about hard winter nights spent in trenches and the frostbite that left him with minimal use of his toes; about congenial interactions with Russian soldiers, with whom he would sometimes drink and commiserate about the horror of war; about crawling on his belly behind enemy lines to gather intelligence. He also recalled the sometimes unbearably long stretches of empty time, during which he read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in its entirety.

George never talked about his war experience without great emotion. Its single greatest consequence may have been that it led him to detest all war, and for the rest of his life he held a deep-seated opposition that was born of first-hand experience. It also enflamed his innate distrust of authority. “One had the feeling that one was participating in something right and important, but you were a very, very small pawn,” he wrote of his military service; “You couldn’t understand it. You were a Blind Pawn in a game you were not even conscious of.”

George met Joanne Schaniel when he was teaching at Northwestern. They married on Christmas Eve in 1951 and over the next decade had three sons: George, Jr., Jonathan, and James. As a couple they were deeply committed to social and political engagement and in the 1960s spent many a family weekend attending rallies and marches. George himself was a major figure in the protest movement of this decade, helping to organize Rutgers professors against war and in favor of civil rights – and attracting the FBI’s attention along the way.

A lover of his country and a committed humanist, George returned all his war medals to protest U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

George became a single father in the late 1960s, and this proved a challenging time. His three sons were forced to learn, at a young age, to take care of themselves, as he struggled to cook dinners and break up fights, all while maintaining his career.

In summers, the wilderness provided an escape for the four of them. Together they undertook months-long camping adventures, George practically willing his army-green Beetle to spectacular locales like the Olympic Mountains and the Boundary Waters Area.

In 1977, George married Carolyn Rovee. He moved to her farmhouse with James, who was then in high school, and he became stepfather to her two sons from a previous marriage, Benjamin and Christopher. He offered them a softer touch that complemented Carolyn’s sometimes-tough love.

Working down the hall from one another at Rutgers, George and Carolyn shared professional as well as home lives: they read and commented on one another’s work, covered for one another’s classes at times of illness, and participated in one another’s research programs. Their students flowed easily between their adjacent laboratories. Most of all, they made their friends, neighbors, and students laugh with their affectionate ribbing and their wildly disparate personalities (Carolyn loud, brusque, bossy: she hung a sign in the kitchen that said “Do It Now”; George subtle, sensitive, and quietly subversive: he hung a sign in his study that said “Do It Later.”)

For four decades, George took great pride in maintaining their small farm in Delaware Township, New Jersey. In the hot summers he would shovel tons of manure from the chicken coop; in the winters he would chop wood for the fireplace in the forested ravine behind the property; in the spring he would help sheep to deliver their lambs. His muddy and dung-covered boots by the front door were a fixture, welcoming visitors to the house.

George’s affection for wilderness took root in his childhood trips to the lakes of northern Minnesota. Later in life, he coveted his yearly backpacking expeditions with his friend Byron Campbell. Every August the two of them courted disaster amid some of the most sublime landscapes on the planet. Against the absolutely reasonable protests of their wives, they insisted on making these journeys well into their eighties! At the end of their final trip, which involved being dropped off in the Alaskan backcountry, their raft overshot a pick-up point along the Yukon River, leading everyone to believe – for two harrowing days until they were found happily camping along the river – that they had vanished in the wild.

In the 1980s, George visited Brazil at the invitation of a colleague at the University of SãoPaulo. He took a great liking to the country and returned to Brazil five times in the next decade, to lecture, teach, and visit the friends he made there. He spoke effusively about Brazil even when he seemed to have little energy left for reminiscence: about the good and plentiful beer, the wild drivers, the affectionate people, and the dedicated students (who, to his amusement and delight, kissed him when they left his lectures). George’s hosts at SãoPaulo always said he was “a different American,” that “he had the soul of a Brazilian.”

George retired in 1991, and though he continued to teach occasional classes at Rutgers, he spent much of his last two decades on the farm with his dog, Hannah, a white golden retriever who for sixteen years accompanied him on walks and runs in the fields outside his door. He called her “The Wonder Dog”; she ghost-wrote the annual holiday letter George sent to friends. After Hannah died, George adopted Bo, another golden retriever, who rarely left his side. When it was no longer easy to walk, George used a golf cart to take Bo on daily runs, giving a friendly wave to the occasional cars that drove by.

Even as he became less mobile, George continued to feed his voracious appetite for knowledge. He read history after history (maintaining a habit he’d picked up during the war), and he took up poetry, which he wrote with characteristically pungent wit.

In his final years, George was cared for with great affection by Beth Harper, Tara Krommelbein, and Zena Ali. For the final three years of George’s life, his son James also lived with and took care of him. Together James and George watched hundreds of films, one per night, George offering acerbic commentary both during the film and throughout the next day – Bo always by his side – until the next film began.

— Christopher Rovee

 

Title: Professor Emeritus

Area: Behavioral Neuroscience

Research Interests

Ecological and nutritional analyses of learning, motivation, and regulation.

Education
1951 - Ph.D. University of Indiana
1947 - B.A. University of Minnesota

Professional Experience

Rutgers, The State University (1962-)
Professor, Department of Psychology

Princeton University (1980-1981)
Visiting Research Professor

University of Washington (1975-1976)
Visiting Research Professor

University of Missouri (1955-1962)
Associate Professor
Research Associate

Duke University (1951-1955)
Assistant Professor

Northwestern University (1950-1951)
Instructor

Awards

Distinguished Career Award, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, 1997

Distinguished Research Award, Board of Trustees, Rutgers University

Distinguished Professor, Biopsychology Lecture Series, Government of Brazil, Universities of Sao Paulo and Belem, Brazil.