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Spiker Memorial Lecture Series

About the Spiker Memorial Lecture

The following paragraphs are the opening remarks by Joan Cantor for the Spiker Memorial Lecture on March 5, 1999.

Charles C. Spiker was a pioneer in the field of Experimental Child Psychology. He received his doctoral training here at Iowa in the Child Welfare Research Station, later renamed the Institute of Child Behavior and Development. He immediately became a faculty member in the Station, later served as its Director for 11 years, eventually joined the Psychology faculty, and remained at Iowa for his entire career. He established one of the first doctoral programs in experimental child psychology, and began a brilliant research career directed at investigating the basic nature of learning in children. His ingenious experiments were done within the theoretical context of Hull-Spence theory. He made important extensions of the theory, quantified its axioms, and was highly successful in using parameter estimation techniques to fit theoretical learning curves to his data.

Spiker was not only a brilliant researcher, but also a remarkable teacher. His doctoral students populated the country with centers of excellence in experimental work with children. In 1986, he was honored by his students and colleagues with a festschrift volume, a good deal of which was concerned with describing what Glenn Terrell called the "Spiker Effect" on their careers. I think the fastest way to give you a sense of Spiker as a teacher is to read a few brief quotes from this volume. Lewis Lipsitt wrote, "most important about Charlie Spiker as professor is his enormous talent to teach, both in the classroom and in scholarly advisory situations…. Gentle, patient, articulate, but demanding, Charlie is persuasive as he leads you around to the only possible way to look at an issue profitably…." Frances Degen Horowitz described his teaching this way, “Classes were intellectual journeys guided by the clarity of Charlie’s analyses….The result was a kind of intellectual exhilaration that I always hoped I might impart to my students." Here is how David Palermo put it: "Charlie is an inspiring teacher. He creates an atmosphere in which the student is caught up in the thrill of new theoretical ideas and the excitement of creating an empirical test of those ideas." Here is how I expressed it: "Charlie also served as an outstanding role model for young professors. We learned by his example that a good professor is both a teacher and a scholar, and is one who cooperates rather than competes with his colleagues. No one I have known is more willing to share his time and expertise with those around him. His love of teaching, coupled with his own unquenchable thirst for new knowledge, provides his students and colleagues with an unending opportunity to learn along with him, and to be a part of the intellectual excitement that surrounds him." And Glenn Terrell summed it up this way. “Simply stated, Charlie made all of us think. One way or another, he made us think about what we were saying and why, what we were writing and why, and even on occasion, what we were doing and why. He did this…within the bounds of honesty, to produce in his students a highly disciplined and thoughtful approach to psychology. Always the standards of performance for himself and for his students were extraordinarily high."

Following Charlie’s death, his students and colleagues endowed this memorial lectureship to honor all that he stood for. Its purpose is to bring to Iowa some of the outstanding minds in child psychology today, so that all of us can hear about the best cutting-edge research in the field. 


Previous Spiker Memorial Lecturers 

Previous Spiker Memorial Lecturers
Year Speaker

Susan C. Levine
Susan C. Levine
Rebecca Anne Boylan Professor in Education and Society
University of Chicago

"Variations in Young Children's Math Knowledge: Cognitive and Emotional Factors"


Harlene Hayne, PhD
Harlene Hayne, PhD
Professor and Vice-Chancellor
University of Otago

"Out of the Mouths of Babes: Memory Development in Infants and Children"


Laurence Steinberg, PhDLaurence Steinberg, PhD
Distinguished University Professor of Psychology
Temple University

"Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence"


Charles Nelson, PhDCharles Nelson, PhD
Professor of Pediatrics
Harvard Medical School 

"The Effects of Early Deprivation on Brain and Behavioral Development"


Nathan FoxNathan Fox, PhD
Professor of Psychology
University of Maryland

"Attention and Executive Control Moderate Infant Temperament in the Development of Anxiety"


Joan StilesJoan Stiles, PhD
Professor of Cognitive Science
UC-San Diego

"Neural Plasticity and Cognitive Development: Insights from Children with Perinatal Brain Injury"


Susan Goldin-MeadowSusan Goldin-Meadow, PhD
Professor of Psychology
University of Chicago

"How Our Hands Help Us Think"


Robert LickliterRobert Lickliter, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Florida International University

"Development as Explanation: Phenotypic Canalization and Phenotypic Malleability Reconsidered"

2008/2009 Annette Karmiloff-SmithAnnette Karmiloff-Smith, PhD
Professorial Research Fellow 
Birkbeck College 
University of London

"Modules, Genes and Evolution: Insights from Developmental Disorders"

2007/2008 Jeff ElmanJeff Elman, PhD
Professor of Cognitive Science
University of California, San Diego

"On Dinosaur Bones and the Meaning of Words"


Stephen J. SuomiStephen J. Suomi, PhD
Chief, Laboratory of Comparative Ethology
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH

"How Gene x Environment Interactions Shape the Development of Emotional Regulation in Rhesus Monkeys."


Leslie CohenLes Cohen, PhD
Professor of Psychology
University of Texas

"The Development of Infant Causal Perception: Theoretical Issues and Empirical Evidence"


Dedre GentnerDedre Gentner, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Northwestern University

"Analogical Learning"


Linda SmithLinda Smith, PhD
Chancellor's Professor of Psychology
Indiana University

"Symbolic Play, Early Word Learning, and Shape"


Richard AslinRichard Aslin, PhD
William R. Kenan Professor of Brain & Cognitive Sciences
University of Rochester

"Statistical Learning of Auditory and Visual Patterns by Human Infants, Adults, and Monkeys"

2000/2001 Megan GunnarMegan Gunnar, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Institute of Child Development
University of Minnesota

"The Psychobiology of Stress in Human Development"

1999/2000 Judy DeLoacheJudy DeLoache, PhD
Professor of Psychology
University of Illinois
"Becoming Symbol-Minded"
1998/1999 Kurt FischerKurt W. Fischer, PhD
Professor of Human Development and Psychology
Harvard University
"The Dynamics of Cognitive and Brain Development"
1997/1998 Elizabeth BatesElizabeth Bates
Professor of Cognitive Science
University of California, San Diego
"Rethinking innateness: How the brain gets organized for language and other complicated things"

Robert SieglerRobert S. Siegler, PhD 
Professor of Psychology
Carnegie-Mellon University
"Microgenetic Studies of Cognitive Development"

(Co-sponsored by the Sunleaf Lecture Fund)

1995/1996 Esther ThelenEsther Thelen
Professor of Psychology
Indiana University
"Origins of an Embodied Cognition: The Dynamics of Moving, Perceiving, and Thinking in Infancy"

Sheldon WhiteSheldon H. White
Professor of Psychology
Harvard University
"A politics of science for psychology"

(Photo by Barbara Notkin White)

1993/1994 Lewis LipsittLewis P. Lipsitt, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Brown University
"Advances in the Study of Infant Behavior and Development: A Hawkeye View"