In Honor Of…Charles “Chuck” Perfetti
Honoring scientists who have made important and lasting contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior.
Charles A. Perfetti, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Psychology
University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Charles (Chuck) Perfetti began his distinguished career by earning a BS in Psychology from University of Illinois, Urbana in 1958, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1967. He has spent the majority of his career at the University of Pittsburgh where he serves as a Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh.
Chuck has dedicated his career to studying the nature of human language, focusing on reading in its many aspects–from its connection to language, its universal properties, its neural bases, its variation with writing systems, and its dependence on lexical knowledge, to text comprehension and individual differences. Using behavioral and cognitive neuroscience methods, his research has addressed reading comprehension, word identification, word knowledge, and their inter-relationships. His studies of comparative reading across writing systems suggest that reading Chinese and reading English engage both shared and distinctive mechanisms and cortical structures. His research on learning has spanned a wide range: a) how students use multiple texts to integrate information and resolve contradiction; b) behavioral and neural indicators of learning word meanings; c) second language learning by adults, especially behavioral and neural indicators of learning to read Chinese.
Chuck has authored or co-authored more than 220 journal articles and book chapters, authored two books, and edited five others. A new in-press book co-edited with Ludo Verhoeven, Radboud University, the Netherlands, brings together research on learning to read across 17 languages.
A committed teacher and mentor, Chuck’s research has always involved the contributions of graduate students, post-doctoral trainees, undergraduate students, and collaborators. He has mentored well over 50 pre-doctoral trainees and 20 postdoctoral fellows, the majority of whom are currently in positions of research and/or teaching at research universities around the globe (or have appointments in other research settings such as Haskins Labs and NIH.)
An internationally known scholar in the field of reading, Chuck has been a Distinguished Chair Professor at National Taiwan Normal University in Taiwan; a Leverhulme Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England; an Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand; a fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences; and a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands.
Chuck’s research excellence has been recognized with the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of both the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading and the Society for Text and Discourse. In 2017, he was awarded the Distinguished Scholar award by the American Educational Research Association Special Interest Group: Research in Reading and Literacy for his outstanding contributions to research in reading and literacy. According to a June 2016 study by the Brookings Institute on “influence” in education, Charles Perfetti was the most highly cited researcher in the area of reading research and was among the top 10 most cited researchers across all fields of education.
A psychologist by discipline who applies his expertise to answering both basic and educational questions, Chuck embodies the essence of FABBS: persistent inter-disciplinary scholarship in search of truth.
Individuals Honoring Charles Perfetti:
Michal Balass, Towson University
Isabel L. Beck, University of Pittsburgh
Iris Berent, Northeastern University
James Booth, The University of Texas at Austin
*MaryAnne Britt, Northern Illinois University
Ho Leung Chan, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Lin Chen, Sun Yat-Sen University
Marc Coutanche, University of Pittsburgh
Peter Foltz, Pearson & University of Colorado
Susan Goldman, University of Illinois at Chicago
Arthur Graesser, University of Memphis
Lindsay Harris, Northern Illinois University
John Levine, University of Pittsburgh
Maryellen MacDonald, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Deborah McCutchen, University of Washington
*Keith Millis, Northern Illinois University
Marta Ortega-Llebaria, University of Pittsburgh, LRDC
Elizabeth Rangel, University of Pittsburgh, LRDC
Jean-Francois Rouet, Université De Poitiers
Valerie Shalin, Wright State University
James Staszewski, Carnegie Mellon University
Natasha Tokowicz, University of Pittsburgh
Julie Van Dyke, Haskins Laboratories
Min Wang, University of Maryland, College Park
*Jennifer Wiley, University of Illinois at Chicago
Benjamin Xu, National Institutes of Health
* FABBS would like to thank Dr. MaryAnne Britt, Dr. Keith Millis, and Dr. Jennifer Wiley for nominating Dr. Perfetti for this honor and for leading the effort.