Psychology professor elected to Denmark’s Royal Academy

Morten H. Christiansen, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been elected a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.

Founded in 1742 with the purpose of strengthening the position of science in Denmark as well as promoting interdisciplinary understanding, the Academy has approximately 250 Danish and 250 foreign members. Members are prominent scientists within both the humanities and social sciences as well as the natural sciences.

Christiansen’s research focuses on the interaction of biological and environmental constraints in the evolution, acquisition and processing of language. He employs a variety of methodologies, including computational modeling, corpus analyses, statistical learning, psycholinguistic experiments, and neuroimaging.

His many research projects include examining the difficulty of learning and using Danish as a first language; individual differences in language, statistical learning, and reading; and computational and experimental approaches to the cultural evolution of language. He is also the recipient of a New Frontier Grant, with Laurent Dubreuil, professor of Romance studies and comparative literature, (A&S). That project, titled "Poetry, AI and the Mind: A Humanities-Cognitive Science Transdisciplinary Exploration,” aims to conduct empirical research on poetry, connecting the humanities, artificial intelligence and cognitive science.

Christiansen received his Ph.D. in cognitive science from the University of Edinburgh in 1995. He is the author of more than 225 scientific papers and has authored two monographs and edited four books; his latest, “The Language Game: How Improvisation Created Language and Changed the World,” co-authored by Nick Chater, is forthcoming later this month.

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