Lynn Liben named Evan Pugh Professor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Lynn Liben, McCourtney Professor of Child Studies and Psychology, has been named an Evan Pugh Professor by Penn State. Liben is one of four faculty members who earned the honor this year.

Selection as an Evan Pugh Professor is the most prestigious distinction that the University bestows on members of its faculty. Named for Penn State’s founding president, Evan Pugh Professors are recognized as leaders in their respective fields of research or creative activity; demonstrate significant leadership in raising the teaching, research/creativity, and service acumen of the University; and display excellent teaching skills with students who go on to earn distinction in their respective disciplines.

Liben’s innovative work illuminates how children develop an understanding of spatial environments, such as how infants learn to visualize in their minds how an object looks when it is rotated, how toddlers remember the spatial layouts in rooms, or how youngsters read maps, and how that understanding increases over time. She has conducted her research on campus, in museums, with maps and cameras, and in other field settings.

Her research has enabled her to help "Sesame Street" plan its geography programming; work with the National Geography Bee to determine why its finalists and winners are overwhelmingly boys; and help the Indianapolis Children’s Museum plan a map exhibition and assess children’s learning in that exhibition. Liben also was part of "Visualizing Earth," a collaborative project funded by the National Science Foundation — with an astronaut as one of its investigators — that showed how Earth images could be used to teach Earth science.

Liben also studies the development of gender differences in spatial thinking and how those differences affect children’s educational and occupational choices. She is past-president of the Society for Research in Child Development, president of the Piaget Society, a member of the Publications Committee of the Association for Psychological Science, and a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, to highlight a few of her noteworthy affiliations.

“We are very proud of Lynn for earning this distinction,” said Susan Welch, dean of the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts. “Distinguished professors such as Lynn continue to redefine their disciplines, conduct research with real world implications, and infuse the college’s intellectual climate with new ways of seeing and learning. We are delighted to see her recognized this way.

“We are also proud of the fact that she is the 13th liberal arts professor to be so honored,” Welch continued. “Since Penn State established the designation in 1960, only 72 faculty members University-wide have been named Evan Pugh Professors.”

Liben can be reached at 814-863-1718 or

Lynn Liben, McCourtney Professor of Child Studies and Psychology, has been named an Evan Pugh Professor by Penn State. Credit: photo providedAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated May 17, 2018