Cornell neuroscientist Valerie Reyna, whose work integrates brain and behavioral research to understand and improve judgment, decision-making and memory across the lifespan, has been named a member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) for distinguished contributions to medicine and health.
Formerly the Institute of Medicine, NAM was established in 1970 to advise the public and policymakers on health and medical issues. Reyna joins a class of 70 new members and 10 international members named to NAM this year.
“Being elected is a highpoint of my career,” said Reyna, professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology. “This honor is so encouraging, in particular, because it recognizes my nontraditional, integrative approach to science.”
Reyna directs Cornell’s Human Neuroscience Institute, where scholars examine the neural basis of human behavior, and co-directs the Cornell MRI Facility and the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research.
She edits the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest and has published extensively on memory and risky decision-making in adolescents and adults. Reyna, along with Cornell human development professor Charles Brainerd, developed fuzzy trace theory, a model to understand connections between mental representations and decision-making that has been applied in law, medicine and public health.
“My work on health psychology and medical decision-making is aimed directly at bringing science to problems that have been approached anecdotally and qualitatively,” Reyna said. “Science in the public interest is at the heart of what we do in the College of Human Ecology, and I am thrilled to be honored by NAM, which shares that mission.”
Previously, Reyna has served on advisory committees and expert panels for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. “I look forward to serving as a member of the academy to ensure that scientific research is translated for the betterment of society,” she added.
Ted Boscia is director of communications and media for the College of Human Ecology.