Three distinguished scholars to receive honorary degrees
Honorary degrees will be awarded to three of the most distinguished scholars in their fields -- psychologist Paul Ekman, statistician and mathematician Ulf Grenander and urban geographer Elisabeth Lichtenberger -- at Spring Convocation ceremonies on Friday, June 10, in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. President Sonnenschein will confer the degrees, which are awarded only for scholarship of the highest quality.
Ekman, professor of psychology and director of the Human Interaction Laboratory at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, University of California-San Francisco, will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Ekman is one of the nation's premier researchers on nonverbal behavior, deceit and emotion, and his work has laid the basis for new fields of study in psychology.
Ekman began studying communication by facial expression and body movement during the 1950s, when little scholarly work was done on the subject. He coined the expression "nonverbal behavior" and developed a now widely used vocabulary to describe the ways people use gestures to communicate.
In the late 1960s, he became interested in the psychology of lying and, with a colleague, pursued the identification of unintentional nonverbal clues people give when they lie. That work led to a book, "Telling Lies," and then another, "Why Kids Lie," in which he applied his theoretical framework to parents and children.
Ekman's interest in emotion and expression led him to work with a colleague to develop a comprehensive, anatomically based method for measuring facial behavior. His interest in facial expression and emotion broadened into an interest in the neurobiological basis for emotion. In 1986, Ekman and a colleague in Germany founded the International Society for Research on Emotion, a group that now has more than 250 members in 15 countries.
Ekman attended the College and continued his education at New York University and at Adelphi University, where he received his M.A. in 1955 and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1958. He has been a faculty member at the University of California-San Francisco since 1965.
Grenander, the L. Herbert Ballou University Professor at Brown University, will receive the Doctor of Science degree. Grenander has been making seminal contributions in the fields of statistics and applied mathematics since the 1950s. His work has integrated elements and structures from various subdisciplines, creating new paradigms that are original, profound and aesthetic.
The span of Grenander's work is vast. In the 1950s, his work was immensely important in the development of modern time-series analysis; in the 1960s, he turned his attention to probabilities on algebraic structures. His work on abstract inference spans three decades, from his 1950 Ph.D. thesis at the University of Stockholm to his 1981 book on the subject.
Grenander's current work, begun in the 1970s, involves pattern theory, pattern recognition and image analysis. His development of pattern theory -- a new theory of regular structure -- has led to applications for the recognition and processing of images in the fields of biology, medicine and geography. He has written a 1,000-page book on the subject, "General Pattern Theory," that is scheduled to be published this year by Oxford University Press.
Grenander is a native of Sweden and first came to the United States as Visiting Professor in Statistics at Chicago in 1951. He held a variety of positions in Sweden and in the United States before joining the faculty at Brown University in 1966. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science and an honorary fellow of the Royal Statistical Society in London.
Lichtenberger, professor of geography at the University of Vienna and one of the foremost geographers in Europe, will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Her work focuses on modern urbanism and the sociopolitical underpinnings of regional development in Europe.
The author of more than a dozen books, Lichtenberger is particularly interested in three areas: agriculture and tourism in high-altitude environments, problems of regional organization and identity, and the emergence of urban forms in the modern world. She was one of the first scholars to identify the "mountain agricultural crisis," which included a decline in mountain village populations and an increase in the use of the regions for recreation. Her work established linkages between tourism, second homes and guestworker movements.
Her work on cities has led to a new form of interdisciplinary research that builds on statistical relationships, map analysis of areal patterns, historical evolution, social and political structures, environmental factors and geographical interrelationships.
Lichtenberger has been a faculty member at the University of Vienna since 1955. She received a Ph.D. in geography and geology from the University of Vienna in 1949.