Seth D. Pollak

Current Fellow

Fellow: Awarded 2021

Field of Study: Psychology

Competition: US & Canada

Website: http://childemotion.wiscweb.wisc.edu/

Seth Pollak has deepened our understanding of children’s emotional development— not only in terms of how the developing brain makes emotional behavior possible, but also how emotional experiences in childhood influences development of the brain. The origins of these ideas coincided with a shift in the biobehavioral sciences towards emphasizing the critical role of early experience in human brain plasticity in tandem with new perspectives about theories of learning. His research accounts for how extreme variations in experience, such as stress or adversity, influences how children learn to understand and use emotions. He began formulating principles derived from neuroscience studies of nonhuman animals to better understand how variations in post-natal experiences influence human emotions. This account of the interplay between biology and social experience has become influential in understanding how social experiences drive human abilities to think about emotional signals from other people. Dr. Pollak has been the recipient of the Boyd-McCandless Award for Distinguished Contributions to Child Development, the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Early Career Award, and the APS James McKeen Cattell Sabbatical Award. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Psychological Science, and in 2020, was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Pollak has strived to both advance basic science on human development, and to use that knowledge to improve the well-being of all children.

Photo Credit: Colton Mansavage