October 3, 2013
Rochel Gelman received her doctorate from UCLA with specializations in developmental psychology and learning. She came to Rutgers in 2000, having been at Penn State 21 years and UCLA 11 years. She was co-director of Rutgers University: Center for Cognitive Science from 2002 to 2011. In the latter role, she joined in the development of collaborative research platforms with various labs in other countries, including the Institute of Psychology in Beijing.
She has developed various ways to uncover and study the ease with which very young children acquire intuitive understandings of natural numbers and arithmetic, that different sources of energy support the movement and change over time of separately movable animate and inanimate objects, that outcomes have causes, and the learning of words and conversationally appropriate ways of talking. A second major theme is dedicated to describing the difficulties older humans have learning with understanding about the nature of rational numbers, algebra, mechanics, biology, a second language, and so on. On the theoretical side, her effort is dedicated to developing a theory of learning that accommodates both the early learning that occur on the fly and the later learning that requires considerable effort, quality inputs and a protracted period of time.