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 Young Alumna Award 2009

Rebecca SAXE’97
Neuroscientist and professor Rebecca SAXE’97 is fascinated by the human brain — so much so that she has made it her life work to study how one brain can think about another. This challenging endeavour has put Rebecca at the cutting edge of science and brain research.
 
During Rebecca’s seven years at Branksome, her teachers recognized her extraordinary academic abilities and encouraged her individual learning. From Branksome, Rebecca went to Oxford University where she ranked first in the Honour School of Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology. Rebecca continued her studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was granted a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science in 2003. Her thesis reported the discovery of a human brain region that is used specifically for thinking about other people’s thoughts. Shortly thereafter, Rebecca was named a Junior Fellow in Harvard University’s Society of Fellows — an elite group of young scholars across all disciplines of arts and sciences. Among the other Junior Fellows that year was Allan Adams, a theoretical physicist and glider pilot. Rebecca and Allan were married in 2007.
 
Since 2006, Rebecca has been a professor at MIT. She investigates human social cognition and moral judgment. Her experiments address questions such as:
 
  • how do human infants become social beings?
  • what goes wrong in atypical brain development to create social deficits like autism?
  • how do human brains construct abstract thoughts like moral judgments?
  • what goes wrong when social interactions degenerate into conflict and hostility?
 
A talented writer and lecturer, Rebecca travels extensively when not in her lab or classroom. She has published numerous papers, essays and book reviews, and gives talks in Canada, the United States and abroad.
 
In 2009, Rebecca was named one of the “Brilliant Ten” young scientists in the United States by Popular Science Magazine.
 
Watch Rebecca's TED lecture on How We Read Each Others' Minds

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