March 2, 2004

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Contact: Karen Henry, Schiefelbusch Life Span Institute, (785) 864-0756.

KU disabilities research institute names 1st associate director for cognitive neuroscience

LAWRENCE -- The Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies at the University of Kansas has named John A. Colombo, professor of psychology and associate dean of the Graduate School, as its first associate director for cognitive neuroscience.

Among Colombo's charges at LSI is leading KU's efforts to create a strong cross-disciplinary research program in cognitive neuroscience -- the study of the neural processes that underlie behavior, thought, language and learning.

"The development of a strong cognitive neuroscience program fits well within the future goals of the Life Span Institute and KU's life sciences initiative," said Steven Warren, LSI director. "John Colombo's own research in this field and leadership at KU make him an ideal choice for this important role."

Colombo will assume the new position Aug. 18 as he steps down from his three-year tenure as associate dean of the Graduate School.

"As associate dean, John Colombo was instrumental in leading the Provost's Task Force on Graduate Education and in helping to shape new professional development programs for graduate students," said Diana Carlin, dean of the Graduate School. "These initiatives will help shape the future of graduate education at KU. We are pleased that he will continue to contribute to the university's research mission and the role of graduate education in that mission."

Colombo's career exemplifies success as both a scientist and a teacher. In the past two years alone, he was elected a fellow in both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. In the past year, he has served on the National Institutes of Health Special Emphasis Panel on Cognition and Development and a National Science Foundation panel, and he recently was selected to serve on a review panel at the Institute of Education Sciences for the U.S. Department of Education.

He also won the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Graduate and Professional Mentoring and Advising and the J. Michael Young Outstanding Academic Advisor Award for the Social Sciences.

He holds grants from the National Science Foundation and from industry, and he is a core director of LSI's NIH-funded Center for Biobehavioral Neurosciences in Communication Disorders.

In 2002, his research on infant nutrition and cognitive development with Susan Carlson, professor of nutrition at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., helped convince the two major infant formula makers to add to baby formula two fatty acids that are present in mother's milk. Colombo's current NSF grant studies infants' perception of time during learning.

Colombo received a doctorate from the State University of New York-Buffalo in 1981 and came to KU in 1982 as a research associate and then principal investigator for the Life Span Institute. He has been a tenure-track faculty member of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since 1988.

The Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies is one of the largest research and development centers in the country for human development and disabilities.


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