Suparna Rajaram, Ph.D.
American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), Society for Experimental Psychologists (SEP), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Association for Psychological Science (APS), Psychonomic Society (PS), American Psychological Association (APA), Eastern Psychological Association (EPA)
Suparna Rajaram received her B.A. (1981-1984) from Mount Carmel College (Bengaluru, India), earning the sixth rank out of the top ten awarded to the highest scoring students from among approximately 30,000. Rajaram then received her M.A. (1986) from Bangalore University (Bengaluru, India) where she was a recipient of the National Merit Scholarship (1984-1986). She then moved to Purdue University where she received her M.S. in Cognitive Psychology (1988), and then to Rice University where she was awarded the Rice University Fellowship (1988-1991) and received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology (1991). Rajaram next completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Cognitive Neuroscience at Temple University School of Medicine (1991-1993). She joined Stony Brook University as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in 1993, received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 1998, and became Full Professor of Psychology in 2003. Rajaram now holds the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor. Rajaram has also served as the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Psychology (2018-2019) and as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University (2012-2015) that has about 500 tenure-track and tenured faculty members and about 100 lecturers in the College, overseeing process and policies concerning tenure, promotion, mentoring, and related faculty matters.
Rajaram’s group conducts research on human learning and memory, with a major focus on the social aspects of memory. In particular, the focus of this research is on the transmission of memory in groups and social networks to understand how social influences shape memory and learning, how people develop shared memories, how accurate and erroneous information propagates among group members, and how collaborative learning and remembering influence memory in the adult lifespan and in educational contexts. This research addresses questions about how memory propagates among social connections and the consequences of such memory contagion, the indirect influence on our memories of people in our social networks whom we have never met, changes in our memory representations as a consequence of reminiscing with others, and the emergence of collective memory. She investigates these phenomena in young adulthood as well as in aging, and is a member of the Stony Brook Aging Interest Network. In another line of research, Rajaram’s group is investigating the nature of emotional memory, with an emphasis on the learning process, social influences, and autobiographical content that pertain to emotional information. Rajaram’s group has also studied the differences between implicit and explicit memory, the distinction between episodic and semantic memory, and how attention modulates long-term memory. This work has examined memory processes across the spectrum of conscious awareness from vivid experiences to learning in the absence of awareness, testing people with intact memory and with organic amnesia.
In a more recent line of research, Rajaram explores the influence of culture and diversity on memory and cognition. Rajaram, along with Dr. Angela Gutchess (Brandeis University) co-founded the Culture and Cognition Pre-conference in 2019 affiliated with the Psychonomic Society, and together they have been awarded an NSF Conference Grant (2023-2024) to support the activities of this initiative.
Rajaram received an early career, FIRST Award from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), and her research has since been supported by NIMH, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Russell Sage Foundation, and Google. She is also a recipient of the Psychonomic Society’s Inaugural Clifford T. Morgan Distinguished Leadership Award (2019) and the Visiting Scholar CLASS Award (Center for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences) from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (2018). Rajaram has been named a 2022 Guggenheim fellow in recognition of her research and scholarship.
Rajaram served as President (2017-2018) of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the scientific organization spanning all areas of psychological science and the entire spectrum of scientific, applied, and teaching specialties with about 33,000 members worldwide. She has been an elected member of the APS Board of Directors (2012-2015) and a member of the APS Diversity Committee (2014-2018), and has chaired the APS Rising Stars Inaugural Committee (2015-2017).
Previously, Rajaram served as Elected Chair (2008), Past Chair (2009) and Elected Member (2004-2009) of the Governing Board of the Psychonomic Society, the premier scientific organization for research in cognition. Rajaram also served as the Chair (2006-2007) of the Publications Committee of the Psychonomic Society that oversees the publication of its scientific journals.
Rajaram currently co-chairs the Psychonomic Society’s Carbon Neutrality Task Force (2020-2024) and serves as a member of the Psychonomic Society COVID 19 Work Group. She is also a member of the AAAS Electorate Nominating Committee (2020-2023), and is serving a three-year term as an elected member on the American Psychological Association’s Board of Scientific Affairs (2021-2023).
Rajaram is one of the founding organizers of Women in Cognitive Science (WiCS), an international group developed in 2001 to promote the advancement of women in the cognitive sciences, and supported by the NSF Advance Grant (2003-2008). She is currently the Principal Investigator on a NSF grant supporting the activities of WiCS. Rajaram served as a conference co-organizer for WiCS for nearly two decades (2001-2020), and as a Principal Investigator on previous NSF conference grants to support WiCS. She currently sits on the WiCS Advisory Board.
Rajaram has served as Associate Editor of Psychological Science (2007-2008), Psychological Bulletin (2003-2005), and Memory & Cognition (1998-2001), and on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Memory and Language (2001-2006), the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition (1998-2002; 2006-2011), Memory & Cognition (2014-2019), and the APA Dictionary of Psychology (2001-2005, published 2006). Rajaram was Guest Co-Editor of a special issue on the Social Aspects of Memory for the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2014), and currently serves on the advisory board of the APS journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.
Rajaram has taught graduate courses in Memory and Graduate Professional Development and undergraduate courses in Memory, Human Brain Function, Research Methods in Psychology, Research Methods Laboratory, Research Methods in Cognition, and the Undergraduate Honors Seminar.