Outstanding Psychologists (10 Phenomenal Careers)

While Sigmund Freud, Ivan Pavlov, and Carl Jung come to mind for many of us in thinking about great psychologists, the field has grown massively in the last century. Psychologists today are able to delve beyond their observations into scientific data that reveals correlations between brain activities and symptoms of various diagnosis. Furthermore, they are able to contribute to society in more direct paths. As they continue to help those in need of treatment, they ensure the field continues to develop. Their intent to help all of us showcases these outstanding psychologists awesome impact on society as a whole.

Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D. — Psychology of Emotion

Lisa Feldman Barrett studies emotional psychology
Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D.

Dr. Lisa Barrett is an outstanding psychologist who focuses on developing a better understanding of emotion. She is perhaps best known for her books, including How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain.

Barrett earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and her Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo. Currently, she is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory. She also holds appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital as a psychologist.

While serving as Editor-In-Chief of the journal Emotion Review, she has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles. Her work aims to transform behavioral research and biomedical understandings. Additionally, Barrett gave a TED Talk on her work. Her research has also become important for understanding the basics of emotional life, the role language and conceptual knowledge plays in emotion perception, and the difference in emotional lives between men and women.

Barrett is President-Elect of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) and an Elected Fellow for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Moreover, she is the recipient of numerous awards, including the APS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Dinner Award in Social Psychology, the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award, and Creative Activity Award. She has also received the Arts in Academics Award and Excellence in Research recognition. Furthermore, Barrett’s work is renowned in government and media circles. She has testified before Congress, appeared on The Today Show, and presented her research findings to the FBI.

Outstanding Psychologist: Read about Lisa Feldman Barrett.

Alia Crum, Ph.D. — Subjective Mindsets

Alia Crum studies changes in subjective mindsets
Alia Crum, Ph.D.

Dr. Alia Crum is an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University. She is also the Principal Investigator of the Mind & Body Lab at Stanford University. As an outstanding psychologist, her work focuses on changes in subjective mindsets. Moreover, she seeks to understand how the human brain perceives, organizes, and interprets information.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from Yale University. Beyond her Ph.D., she completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University. Additionally, her professional research has been supported by grants from organizations such as the Stanford Catalyst for Collaborative Solutions, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.

Crum has earned a plethora of awards, including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, the Dean’s Award for First Year of Teaching, the Rising Star Award, the New Innovator Award, and the Seymour E. and Ruth B. Harris Prize at Harvard University. Moreover, she has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals as well as chaired multiple symposia. To date, she has presented her findings at numerous conferences and events. Crum’s presentations have been at the Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Convention, the World Economic Forum, and the Global Wellness Summit. Ultimately, her work aims to enhance psychological well-being for individuals.

Outstanding Psychologist: Read about Alia Crum.

Jamil Zaki, Ph.D. — Psychology of Altruism

Jamil Zaki studies cognitive and neural bases of social behavior
Jamil Zaki, Ph.D.

Dr. Jamil Zaki is an assistant professor of psychology and Bio-X Faculty at Stanford University. Zaki’s research primarily focuses on the cognitive and neural bases of social behavior. His emphasis as an outstanding psychologist is on empathic accuracy, social influence, and altruism.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Boston University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. Afterward, he completed his post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University. As an outstanding psychologist, Zaki’s has many published works. He has a multitude of articles in peer-reviewed journals and spoken at numerous talks and conferences. His talks include presentations for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Social and Affective Neuroscience Society, and the World Congress on Positive Psychology, to name a few. Additionally, he has chaired various symposia and has helped in reviewing various journals such as American Psychologist, Archives of General Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, and Cognition and Emotion.

Zaki is also the recipient of several awards, including the Sage Young Scholar Award, the CAREER Award, the Janet T. Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contribution, the Rising Star Award, and the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.  Funding for his research is from several different organizations such as the Army Research Office, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Google Research Award

Outstanding Psychologist: Read about Jamil Zaki.

Jason Okonofua, Ph.D. — Social Psychologist

Jason Okonofua is an outstanding psychologist
Jason Okonofua, Ph.D.

Dr. Jason Okonofua is a social psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley. He is also the principal investigator of the Equity, Diversity and Empathy Navigation Sciences (EDENS) Lab at the university. His research focuses on understanding the social and psychological processes contributing to inequality. Okonofua is an outstanding psychologist truly looking to make the world a better place.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in Illinois and his Ph.D. from Stanford University. Additionally, his research interests in psychology take root in social-personality studies and include schooling discipline, teacher-student relationships, the school-to-prison pipeline, and large-scale psychological intervention. Furthermore, one of his largest ongoing projects in this field is through EDENS Lab, focusing on moving youth offenders within the Juvenile Justice Center in Alameda County back into schools and overcome their challenges.

Okonofua’s research is in a wide variety of peer-reviewed journals.  Support for this research comes from organizations such as the Tides Foundation, Ford Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE).  Additionally, Okonofua is the recipient of several awards. His collection includes the Cialdini Prize from SPSP, the Distinguished Scholar Award, the Diversity Travel Award, the William H. Exum Award for Scientific Paper, and the Graduate Research Opportunity Award. 

Beyond his other accomplishments, Okonofua takes his research on the road. He has given a variety of talks and presentations at places such as the 28th APS Annual Convention, the Development and Integration of Mitigation Evidence Seminar through the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel, and the Seneca Family of Agencies. In addition to his academic talks, Okonofua’s work has been featured in popular media like MSNBC, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, and Education Week.

Outstanding Psychologist: Read about Jason Okonofua.

Qing Zhou, Ph.D. — Developmental Psychopathology

Qing Zhou studies developmental psychopathology
Qing Zhou, Ph.D.

Dr. Qing Zhou is an associate professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley. Her research primarily focuses on developmental psychopathology and understanding cultural influences on socio-emotional development. In addition to teaching, she is Director of the Culture and Family Study Lab at the university. Moreover, Zhou’s studies of the impact of family, school, and culture on children showcase her performance as an outstanding psychologist.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Normal University. After finishing her studies in China, she came to America. She obtained both her master’s degree and Ph.D. from Arizona State University. For her academic studies and success, she holds numerous awards. Her collection includes the Foundation for Child Development Young Scholars Award, the Graduate Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the American Psychological Association Dissertation Award, and the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting Travel Award.

Zhou’s research includes a plethora of top peer-reviewed articles in industry journals. Her research is often supported by grants from organizations such as the National Institute of Health, the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines Endowment Fund, the University of California Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues Seed Grant, and the France-Berkeley Fund. Additionally, she presents her research at various conferences and talks, including past presentations at the Psychological Sciences Colloquium and the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development.  She is also a member of the Society for Research in Child Development and the Association of Psychological Science.

Outstanding Psychologist: Read about Qing Zhou.

Joshua Buckholtz, Ph.D. — Psychology of Addiction and Personality Disorders

Joshua Buckholtz studies human self-control
Joshua Buckholtz, Ph.D.

Dr. Joshua Buckholtz is an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University. His research primarily focuses on understanding why humans vary so much in their ability to maintain self-control. He is currently exploring this research in the Systems Neuroscience of Psychopathology Laboratory (SNPLab) at Harvard University. His research as an outstanding psychologist has implications in the fields of drug addiction, aggression, psychopathy, and personality disorders.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Since then, he published a plethora of peer-reviewed journals, including Neuroimage, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Trends in Neuroscience, to name a few. He is also the author of a variety of book chapters. Buckholtz’s research is often funded by organizations such as the Brain Behavior Research Fund, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Institute of Health, and the Mind, Brain, Behavior Interfaculty Initiative at Harvard.

In addition to publishing, he is an avid speaker at conferences. Some of his talks include audiences with the James McGill Distinguished Speaker Series, the Trichotillomania Learning Center Precision Medicine Initiative, and the Macarthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience. Furthermore, Buckholtz is the recipient of several awards, including the Harvard College Favorite Professor Award, the Young Investigator Award, the Distinction in Faculty Advising, and the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Faculty Award.

Outstanding Psychologist: Read about Joshua Buckholtz.

Alan Anticevic, Ph.D. — Psychiatric Illness

Alan Anticevic is a professor of psychiatry
Alan Anticevic, Ph.D.

Dr. Alan Anticevic is an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale University. He is also Administrative Director of the Center for the Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism at the university. His research focuses on the cognitive neuroscience of psychiatric illness and neuroimaging analysis methodology.

Anticevic earned his bachelor’s degree from Drake University and both his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. His research is frequently funded by entities such as the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) Young Investigator Award, and the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

He is published in a variety of peer-reviewed journal and is currently under review for more articles. Additionally, Anticevic is involved in a variety of conference presentations. His presentations include the Annual Meeting of the Organization of Human Brain Mapping, the Annual Meeting of the Society for Biological Psychiatry, and the Annual Meeting of the International Society for Autism Research.

Beyond his publications and talks, Anticevic is the recipient of many awards. These include the Society for Biological Psychiatry Top Poster Award, the Organization for Human Brain Mapping Graduate Student Award, the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation Scholar Award, and the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award. He also co-organized the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Directors Meeting held at Yale University and the 3rd International Conference on Applications of Neuroimaging to Alcoholism.

Outstanding Psychologist: Read about Alan Anticevic.

George Newman, Ph.D. — 21st Century Socio-Psychological Studies

George Newman studies cognitive science
George Newman, Ph.D.

Dr. George Newman is an assistant professor of management at Yale University. Additionally, he works with both the department of psychology and that of cognitive science. As an outstanding psychologist, his research reflects the nature of psychological and sociological struggles of the 21st century.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. His master’s degree and Ph.D. are from Yale University. His research focuses on understanding the psychological processes underlying our notions of authenticity. He also looks at consumer relationships with their desire to “do good” balanced against their insistence on maximizing the productivity of their donations and purchases. Much of his past and current research is supported by grants from Yale. Newman is the recipient of several awards. Some of his collection includes the Richard Launcher Dissertation Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship Honorable Mention, the William H. Hunt Award for Best Undergraduate Thesis in Psychology, and the Northwestern University Undergraduate Research Grant.

Newman is published in many journals and the author of a variety of book chapters. He also presents his work at conferences, including past talks at the New England Marketing Conference, the Authenticity Workshop at Stanford University, the Annual Yale Center for Customer Insights Conference, and the Annual Meeting of the Social Philanthropy Initiative. Beyond his academic contributions, Newman also leads seminars for senior executives in North America and Asia on marketing and management topics based on his research. His greatest contribution yet is to understanding judgment and decision making, moral reasoning, authenticity, and consumption and consumer behavior.

Outstanding Psychologist: Read about George Newman.

Ed Boyden, Ph.D. — Neurobiological Engineering Psychologist

Ed Boyden is an outstanding psychologist
Ed Boyden, Ph.D.

Dr. Ed Boyden holds the title of Y. Eva Tan Associate Professor in Neurotechnology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Additionally, he is an investigator at the McGovern Insitute for Brain Research and the co-director of the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering. His research is focused on developing tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems, highlighting the very modern investment of this outstanding psychologist’s work. Boyden’s research is important to the understanding of diseases such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.

Boyden is a highly academic educator and researcher. He holds three degrees from MIT in electrical engineering, computer science, and physics. He then completed his Ph.D. in neurosciences at Stanford University. Additionally, his tenure at Stanford included funding as a Hertz Fellow, a title earned only by the most remarkable doctoral candidates in the nation. In addition to his listed commitments, he is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Beyond his titles at Stanford, he also leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group. This group aims to invent new tools for the analysis and engineering of various brain circuits. His large library of research is well-published. With contributions and authorship of more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and invitations to more than 300 talks on the work of the SNG alone, Boyden is poised to continue contributing immensely to his field.

Of note, Boyden holds a Canada Gairdner International Award, a Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences, a Lundbeck “Brain” Prize (the world’s largest brain research prize), and two NIH Director’s Transformative Research Awards, to name a few. He was also named the Technology Review World’s “Top 35 Innovators Under 35” in 2006.

Outstanding Psychologist: Read about Ed Boyden.

Gloria Choi, Ph.D. — Brain and Cognitive Psychologist

Gloria Choi is an outstanding psychologist
Gloria Choi, Ph.D.

Dr. Gloria Choi is an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the university, she also serves as an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and holds the Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Professorship. Furthermore, Choi is the Principal Investigator of the Choi Lab. This outstanding psychologist is digging deeper into issues that affect people from birth.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and her Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Moreover, she continued with postdoctoral research as a scientist at Columbia University with Richard Axel. Her research enhances the understanding of how the immune system influences the brain and modulates neural circuits to shape and determine behavioral output.

Choi is published in a wide variety of peer-reviewed journals. Beyond her personal research, Chio’s lab is mapping sensory stimuli to behavioral output, understanding the role of neuromodulation in social learning, cognitive control of olfactory learning, and neuroimmunology. Additionally, she is the recipient of several awards. She was a member of the Sloan Research Fellowship, given to young scientists whose achievements prove they are rising stars in their fields. She also made Cell’s “40 under 40” list.

Outstanding Psychologist: Read about Gloria Choi.


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3 thoughts on “Outstanding Psychologists (10 Phenomenal Careers)”

  1. Great work from these psychologists, as their contributions are much needed today. For instance, drug addiction is rampant, and the work of Dr. Buckholtz further shows humans have a hard time with self-control. More neuroscience studies showing the effects of our brain on drugs, and even our emotions will give better insights into the growing epidemic of addiction.

  2. This work was so needed in the Psychology field today! We always remember the trails blazers and historical figures who brought us the subjects we know today, but so rarely do we dive into the great researchers and scientist of recent history. It great to read about who is making progress today.

  3. Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett’s study on emotions is an intriguing one. It has been said that if you look at tears under a microscope, they all look different depending on what state of emotion one was in when crying. Are tear drops similar to snowflakes….?


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