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Remembering a Pioneer in Cognitive Studies

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Obituary

Howard Gruber

Howard Ernest Gruber, a world renowned psychologist and visiting faculty in TC's Department of Human Development, died on Jan. 25. He was 82.

Gruber was a lifelong student of cognition. He was most widely known for his study of Darwin's thinking as he processed his glimpses of natural selection into the theory of evolution, which was completed and published decades later.

Gruber was born in Brooklyn. He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1943 and received his Ph.D. in psychology at Cornell in 1950. He then taught at Queens University (Canada) and the University of Colorado.  In the 1950s, Gruber went to  Geneva and met Jean Piaget, who became a good friend and an important inspiration.  During the 1960s, Professor Gruber taught at the New School for Social Research and at Rutgers University where he founded and directed the Institute for Cognitive Studies.  Beginning in 1983, he held the Piaget Chair at the University of Geneva.

In collaboration with Jacques Vonèche, Professor Gruber edited The Essential Piaget (1977) and played a vital role in interpreting Piaget's work for Americans.  He was the first to study Darwin's unpublished notebooks in detail that resulted in the groundbreaking book, "Darwin on Man:  A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity." The November-December 1999 issue of American Scientist included "Darwin on Man" as one of the "100 Books that Shaped a Century of Science." Gruber also had a lifelong commitment to activism for peace, social justice and the environment.

A memorial was held in Milbank Chapel on Saturday, April 9.

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