Lisa Feldman Barrett is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University and holds appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She directs the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory, which has sites at both Northeastern and MGH. Lisa was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and earned her B.Sc. from the University of Toronto. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Waterloo in 1992. From 1992–1996, Lisa was an Assistant Professor at Pennsylvania State University, after which she joined the faculty at Boston College. She moved to Northeastern University in 2010.
Numerous fellowships and awards already mark Lisa’s career. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, the American Psychological Association, and the Association for Psychological Science. She has received many awards, including the Diener Award in Social Psychology, an award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science from the APA, a James McKeen Cattell Fellowship from the APS and a Career Trajectory Award from SESP. She is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Her work is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Aging, the National Cancer Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Mind and Life Institute, and the Army Research Institute. In 2007, she was the recipient of the prestigious NIH Director’s Pioneer Award.
As evidenced by an h-index of 79 and over 27,000 citations, Lisa is widely acknowledged as a pioneer in the study of emotion and affective neuroscience. In her early clinical research on how individuals label their symptoms of anxiety and depression, she stumbled upon an unexpected finding—people were not as specific about their affective symptoms as current theories would suggest. This discovery led Lisa into an exploration of the structure of affect, the neurobiology of emotion, the labeling of emotions, and eventually her transition to social psychology, where her research now focuses on the nature and structure of human emotion. One line of research examines the nature and dynamics of affective processing and examines the structure of affect, the neurobiology of the affective system and how it changes with age and disease, individual differences in affective reactivity, and how affect supports cognitive performance and perception. Another line of research focuses on the conceptual system and how emotion knowledge is represented and structured in the mind and brain. Yet another line of research examines how language and conceptual knowledge about emotion shape the experience and perception of emotion. Yet another line of research focuses on sex differences in emotion. Across all these areas, Lisa combines methods from social psychology (social cognition, experience sampling), neuroscience (neuroimaging, neuropsychology), and physiology (hormonal assays, peripheral physiology). Her work is additionally inspired by engineering, anthropology, and linguistics.
- Lisa Feldman Barrett is a formative influence on me – as I suspect she has been for anyone she has mentored, or even met. What is powerful about Lisa’s mentorship is the way she simultaneously challenges and inspires: there is always new work to be done, because she creates an environment in which it is possible to generate ideas, break boundaries, and question assumptions. By connecting researchers across a range of disciplines and topics, Lisa has created an entire community of scientists, of which I am honored to call myself a member.
-Katie Hoemann, graduate student, Northeastern University
- Lisa has been an inspiration to myself and so many other aspiring affective scientists, having played a significant role in shaping contemporary views on the structure and substrates of affect and emotion. As a researcher, she is a role model for how to carefully dissect theoretical positions and empirical data, and how to develop new theories that integrate a wide array of scientific approaches. As a mentor, she is an invaluable source of support and advice, and an example for how to lead a thriving lab. I am honored to have been among her trainees as a graduate student, and I am grateful for the training she continues to offer me and others.
-Amitai Shenhav, Assistant Professor, Brown University
- It’s rare to come across a scholar who transforms a field. It’s even rarer to come across a scholar that transforms you as a researcher. Lisa changed the way I think about emotions and continues to inspire me as a scholar, a human being and a friend!
-Hillel Aviezer, Senior Lecturer, The Hebrew University
- I met Lisa in 2001 when I was a graduate student. I will never forget our first conversation. She had read a working draft of a paper of mine and had lots of thoughts on it. We only spoke for a few minutes but in that time she offered equal amounts of critical feedback, enthusiastic encouragement, and helpful direction. I was dizzy with thoughts when walking away! Over the years Lisa's mentorship and friendship has been steady and a constant resource for me and many others. I am so grateful that there are people in our field who are brilliant and generous, and Lisa is at the top of the pack.
-Wendy Mendes, Sarlo/Ekman Chair in the Study of Emotion, University of California at San Francisco
- Lisa Barrett is an brilliant and incredible scholar whose work has changed the face of modern affective science. One need only look at her metrics (over 27,000 citations, h-index = 79, as of Sept 2016) and the diversity of her publications and research projects to understand understand her academic and intellectual prowess. She is fiercely passionate about the quality of her scholarship. Her love for the process of science and great ideas is contagious. As passionate as she is about science, Lisa is equally passionate about ensuring that generations of scientists that come after her not only conduct top-notch work but also are infused with an excitement, curiosity, and fearlessness to engage in the scientific process. Her time and efforts to mentor junior academics seem to expand exponentially to meet the needs of the community. And for that, the we are all very thankful.
-Eliza Bliss-Moreau, Assistant Professor, University of California at Davis
- Lisa’s work is a “game-changer” in the field of affective science. Her theoretical and empirical work has had and will continue to have widespread impacts on many different fields. She has challenged my own thinking on several occasions, and my work is all the better for it!
-Ann Kring, Professor and Chair, University of California at Berkeley
- I began collaborating with Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett to investigate the new ideas in her NIH Pioneer award. Working with her for several years now, I can say that the title of pioneer is no exaggeration. She is one of the most bold and brilliant thinkers that I know. She pushes herself and those she mentors to rigorously question assumptions about the nature of emotion through synthetic interdisciplinary scholarship. Her novel theoretical contributions and elegant empirical work underlie many new research trajectories in the emerging discipline of affective science. And knowing Lisa, I suspect the best is yet to come.
-Christy Wilson-Mendenhall, postdoctoral fellow, Northeastern University
- It’s safe to say that Lisa’s research has changed how the field thinks of emotions. This much is clear from just looking at her CV. What may be less clear is the impact that she has on her mentees. Lisa embodies a passion for science, a thirst for knowledge, and a drive for excellence that is contagious; I know that she inspires every student who has ever worked with her. As a mentor, her goal is to create a vibrant lab consisting of individuals with different skills, different backgrounds, and different viewpoints. Lisa knows that to become independent scientists, her students need training in every aspect of the job--not just study design, data-analysis, and manuscript preparation--but also the other details that rarely get explicitly taught, such as how hiring happens, how grants are written and evaluated, how to mentor others, how to work with interdisciplinary teams, and how to navigate collaborations. All great scientists are busy, but Lisa is never too busy for her students. She recognizes that good science requires time together working through problems and exploring new ideas. Perhaps the best testament to Lisa’s mentoring prowess is the fact that I now model almost all of my mentoring efforts after her.
-Kristen Lindquist, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- I met Lisa at a conference in the early 1990s, and I have had the sheer pleasure of collaborating with her ever since. As I’m sure many of the tributes will note, Lisa’s mind is like no other. Give her a piece of information, and she rapidly turns it into the beginning of a brilliant idea. Give her a bit more time, and that idea will become a fully formed theory, and she will have developed ten ways to test it in the lab. Lisa has been drawn toward studying the most fundamental questions about human emotions. She fearlessly enters new areas and quickly becomes current in the literature as well as in the newest methodological advances. All of these qualities, along with Lisa’s warmth, generosity, and supportiveness, have led me to seek her out time and time again as a collaborator, and every experience has been exciting, thought-provoking and downright fun. In addition to being an outstanding scientist, Lisa also is an amazing cook and a chocolate connoisseur. Many of our best ideas have come while savoring a good meal or fine chocolate, making the experience even sweeter. Lisa continues to have a wide reaching impact on the field, and she truly deserves this recognition.
-Paula Pietromonaco, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
James A. Russell