Chun awarded prestigious 2019 Ho-Am Prize for Science

Marvin Chun
Marvin Chun

Yale psychologist Marvin Chun has been awarded the 2019 Ho-Am Prize for Science, which honors accomplishments of individuals of Korean heritage.

The prize was one of five awards given by the Ho-Am Foundation, named after the founder of Samsung, and the second in a row bestowed upon a Yale faculty member. Mathematician Hee Oh received the 2018 Ho-Am Prize for Science.

Chun, dean of Yale College, the Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology, and professor of neuroscience, was born and raised in California by his immigrant parents. When he was 12, his family moved back to Korea where he attended junior high, high school, and college.

Chun was recognized by the foundation for his work in cognitive neuroscience. From images of brain activity alone, his lab has recreated faces viewed by subjects. In a separate line of work, they can read out an individual’s attention levels, intelligence, and personality.

He further determined how the human brain processes perception, attention, and memory by discovering the specific neural networks related to attention,” the award citation states. “His work has significantly deepened scientific understanding of the human mind and behavior.”

Chun earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then received a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship to work in the Vision Sciences Lab at Harvard University. In 1996, he started as an assistant professor in Yale’s Department of Psychology, and then moved to Vanderbilt with tenure in 1999. He returned to Yale as full professor in 2003.

Chun’s research has been honored with several early-mid career awards, such as the Troland Research Award from the United States National Academy of Sciences, and the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. His teaching of “Introduction to Psychology,” one of the largest classes in Yale College, has been recognized with both the Phi Beta Kappa William Clyde DeVane Medal for Distinguished Scholarship and Teaching in Yale College, and the Lex Hixon ’63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences. 

The Ho-Am Prize was established in 1990 by Samsung Chairman Kun-Hee Lee, who wished to create a corporate culture that carried on the spirit of public service exemplified by Samsung founder Byung-chull Lee, who went by the pen name Ho-Am. The prize is awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to academics, the arts, and social development and who have furthered the welfare of humanity through distinguished accomplishments in their respective professional fields.

 “I’m happy for the recognition that this provides to my fabulous mentors, collaborators, and students,” Chun said.  “I’m also deeply indebted to Yale for providing such an excellent research environment and generous resources throughout my career.”

The award ceremony is scheduled to be held in Seoul, Korea on May 31.

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