David Rakison: Academic Lineage


[by dint of direct PhD advisorship for those who had PhDs, and by primary scientific mentorship otherwise.

Thanks to Brian Scholl for doing much of the legwork]





Relation to me (Academically Speaking)







Otto Mencke



Johann Wichmannshausen



Christian Hausen



Abraham Kästner



Johann Erxleben



Christian von Weigel



Karl Rudolphi



Johannes Müller



Hermann von Helmholtz



Johannes von Kries



Karl Bühler



Karl Popper



Jack Tizard



Neil O’Connor



Peter Bryant



George Butterworth



David Rakison





Otto Mencke

Biographical Notes
Mencke was born in 1644 in Oldenburg, attended gymnasium at Bremen, and received 3 advanced degrees at Leipzig University: a Baccalaurat in 1662, a Magister in 1664, and a Ph.D. in 1668. It remains unclear who his official advisor was, since he worked on several independent dissertations, and he worked with a slew of professors, including the theologians Friedrich Rappolt, Christian Chemnitz, Hieronymus Kromaier, and Johann Adam Scherzer, and the philosophers Jakob Thomasius and Valentin Alberti. After his schooling he eventually joined the faculty at Leipzig as Professor of Philosophy, and later served as Dean of the Philosophy faculty, and as Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University. Little is known of Mencke's actual work, and he seems to have spent most of his scholarly energies editing and republishing others' work. He died in 1707 of a stroke.

His importance to the scientific milieu was inestimable, however, since in cooperation with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz he founded and served as chief editor for the first academic journal in Germany, Acta Eruditorum, in 1682. Mencke and Leibniz's original publication of the journal was supported by the Duke of Saxony. This proved to be one of the most important scientific journals of the Enlightenment, and published papers by most leading scholars and scientists of the day -- indeed, Volume 1 of the journal alone included articles by Boyle, Leeuwenhoek, Leibniz, and Johann Bernoulli. Leibniz eventually published more than 50 of his papers in Acta Eruditorum, including several relating to his dispute with Isaac Newton about the origin of the calculus. (For example, the 1714 volume was famous for displaying the alterations made in the 1713 revised edition of Newton's 1687 Principia -- the goal being to show gaps in Newton's thinking, and how he was trying to rewrite history to better compete with Leibniz.) All articles in the journal were in Latin. Copies of the journal are relatively rare today, though several exist in old libraries in Europe. (Yale has copies on Microform.) Here is the title page from the first volume of the journal, from 1682.

Johann Christoph Wichmannshausen (16??-17??)

Wichmannshausen, in addition to being Otto Mencke's student, was also his son-in-law. Though his thesis was on ethics, he was primarily an orientalist.

Christian August Hausen (1693-1743)

Biographical Notes
Hausen, born in Dresden, was a Professor of Mathematics at Leipzig University, and is best known for his work on electricity. In 1743 he built the first machine to generate electricity via friction. (The device generated static electricity by means of the friction formed by a rotating glass disc. The image provided for Hausen above alleges to depict a public demonstration of his device.) Here is an image of the cover page of his 1746 book, Novi profectvs in historia electricitatis. Hausen is one of 3 academic ancestors listed on this page to have a crater on the Moon named after him (the others being Kästner and Helmholtz).

Abraham Gotthelf Kästner (1719 – 1800)

Kästner was a leading German mathematician of his day, especially well known for writing prominent textbooks and encyclopedias. He originally intended to study the philosophy of law, following his father (a Professor of Jurisprudence), but he ended up focusing on mathematics. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Leipzig in 1739 and immediately began to teach there as a 'Privatdozent'. He was promoted in 1746 to 'Extraordinary Professor', and in 1756 he was appointed as Professor of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Göttingen. In Göttingen he was the teacher of Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss -- widely acknowedged as the most brilliant mathematician who ever lived -- but it is reported that Gauss didn't attend many of Kästner's lectures, and often ridiculed him. Kästner wrote long volumes on philosophy and applications of mathematics, and was the first mathematician to write a work entirely devoted to the history of mathematics. He was also the first to define trigonometric functions as pure numbers, rather than ratios in a triangle. He received many honors during his career, and was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society in 1789. Beyond mathematics, he was also known throughout German literature for his epigrams.



Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben (1744-1777)

Erxleben is regarded as the founder of modern veterinary science and training in Germany, and was Professor of Physics and Veterinary medicine at the George-August University of Göttingen (where he also began his graduate studies in 1763, and earned a Ph.D. in 1775). In 1775 he also took over Editorship of the Göttingen Taschen Calendars. He acquired additional training in veterinary medicine by visiting the Netherlands and France, and the horse-expert Johann Babtist von Sind. He was also an avid naturalist, and is credited with the first descriptions of many species, including the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), the harp seal (Phoca groenlandica), and the chital (axis axis). He also originally described the (very cute) fisher (Martes pennanti), originally naming it Mustela pennanti after Welsh naturalist Thomas Pennant, but this name was later overridden. Erxleben was married to Dorothea Christiane Erxleben, who was the first woman in Germany -- and the 2nd in the entire world -- to be trained and granted the official title of medical doctor (in 1754 at the University of Halle). (Women weren't allowed to study medicine at that time, of course, but she appealed directly to the Prussian King Frederick the Great in 1741 to gain permission to do so.) In lieu of more information about Erxleben, here is his signature and silhouette.

Christian Ehrenfried von Weigel (1748-1831)

German by birth, Weigel joined the faculty of the University of Greifswald in 1774 as Professor of Chemistry, Pharmacy, Botany, and Mineralogy. He obtained the "von" in his name in 1806 when he was ennobled, and two years later he became the personal physician of the Swedish royal house. He published many books -- on many topics -- during his day, and while exploring this literature I have noticed that the covers of books in his time were rather more ornate than those today. Weigel was also an inventor, and developed the counter-flow condenser in 1771, which was later improved on by Justus Liebig and came to be known as the Liebig condenser (still used in a very similar form today to distill vodka). This figure of the condenser apparatus appeared in Weigel's 1771 dissertation. Because of this invention, I believe that Weigel is my only academic ancestor to appear on a Vodka.com webpage. He was also an avid naturalist, and has an entire Genus named after him: Weigela, a type of "shrubby" eastern Asian plant, of the honeysuckle family. Because of this genus, I think Weigel is also my only academic ancestor to have his full name appear on a MarthaStewart.com webpage.

Karl Asmund Rudolphi (1771-1832)

Rudolphi, the "father of helminthology" (the study of worms, especially parasitic worms) grew up in Sweden, and was appointed Professor of Anatomy at Greifswald University immediately following his MD in 1795. Here is a copy of the first page of Rudolphi's medical dissertation. He stayed at Greifswald until 1810 when he moved to become Professor and Director of the Institute of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Berlin -- a position he held until his death, when it was taken over by his student Johannes Müller (see below). (This Institute, and its associated museum, eventually grew into a scientific powerhouse, though in Rudolphi's time it was "located in a gloomy building in the inner city".) During his 22 years at Berlin, he also founded the Berlin Zoological Museum and served as rector of the University.

Rudolphi conducted research across many fields (including botany, zoology, anatomy, and physiology), and is perhaps best known as one of the earliest proponents of the view that plants are built out of cells. In 1804 he shared a major prize from the Royal Society of Science in Gottingen for demonstrating that adjoining cells had their own cell walls, rather than sharing them. His initial scientific publication (1808, see reference above) contained the first ever description of the Nematoda (roundworm). His second publication cited above (from 1819) was the first time that the life cycle was described in detail for nematodes which are parasitic on humans (including one which currently infects roughly 1/4 of the world's population). In his later work, he argued that humanity comprised a genus that should be further divided into other species (instead of a species into races), thus fueling racism in several German and Scandinavian countries. His overall approach always emphasized methodological rigor, and he was famously enthusiastic about the scientific study of anatomy. His greatest student Müller (see below) wrote of him: "I have enjoyed his instruction, his advice, his fatherly friendship for a year and a half; he in part inspired my love for anatomy, and settled my steadfast affection upon it for all time." Rudolphi is remembered today in some specific ways (such as being commemorated in the annually awarded Karl Asmund Rudolphi Medal of the Parasitological Society) and more generally for his legacy as a naturalist (having named species such as the Blue Bird of Paradise, Paradisea rudolphi, and the Sei Whale which for years was known as Rudolphi's Whale). He died in 1832, the same year that his academic great-grandson Wilhelm Wundt (see below) was born.

Johannes Peter Müller (1801-1858)

Müller was arguably the most important physiologist of his time, and synthesized an incredible array of scientific ideas and results into a cohesive system. He was born in Coblenz and (after narrowly averting a career in theology) entered the Friedrich-Wilhelm University in Bonn in 1819, working for a time with Phillip von Walther. At this time the University at Bonn was a bulwark of 'natural philosophy', which maintained that the 'spirit of man' and his powers of observation were more important than laboratory experimentation. Nevertheless, Müller excelled, and won an award in 1822 for his research on breathing in the fetus. He received his MD later that year, after which he was awarded a stipend to head to the Institute of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Berlin, to study with Karl Rudolphi. Rudolphi's group at Berlin, unlike the professors at Bonn, had no lack of enthusiasm for experimental work, and they placed great stress on methodological rigor (though Müller also took lectures with Hegel there). As a result, this year in Berlin was probably Müller's most important educational experience. In 1824 Müller returned to join the faculty at Bonn, rising to more prominent professorships there in 1826 and again in 1830. He made a start at practicing medicine, but one of his first patients (who was also a close friend) died, and this turned him off to clinical practice. In 1833 he left Bonn and headed back to Berlin to assume Rudolphi's old position as Chair of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Berlin (a position he "skillfully negotiated" for following Rudolphi's death). He eventually earned the greatest scientific laurels of his day, including the Copley Medal (the highest award bestowed by the Royal Society) in 1854, and being named Editor of Archiv fur Anatomie und Physiologie. He died from an opium overdose, after nearly dying years earlier in a shipwreck. After his death, the Powers That Be at the University of Berlin thought his scope and vision were so great that they essentially split up his position, creating three new professorships (in pathology, anatomy, and physiology) to replace him.

Müller's most prominent publication was probably his multi-volume Physiologie des Menschen, published between 1833 and 1840 (translated by William Baly into English in 1842 as 'Elements of Physiology'). This book was a landmark in the field, and for the first time brought together physiology with human and comparative anatomy, clinical practice, as well as aspects of chemistry and physics. For the rest of the 19th century, this was thus the textbook in physiology. He also did notable work in many other areas, including vision, anatomy, developmental embryology, endocrinology, and the study of speech and hearing. He was the first to use the microscope in pathology. Perhaps his most notable work on vision science was his work on visual hallucinations. He frequently hallucinated himself as a child, 'seeing' "images of people moving against the white wall of the house opposite to his". His later work on this topic -- published in 1826 as a book with the wonderful title On fantastic visual appearances (Uber die phantastischen gesichtserscheinungen), is considered a landmark in the psychiatric study of hallucinations, and articles about its importance continue to be published today. His greatest failing, in hindsight, was his unceasing support of vitalism -- the view that it was impossible to reduce living processes to mechanical laws. This belief -- perhaps a holdover from his early education at Bonn -- was later proven wrong in many ways, including in work by his greatest student, Helmholtz (see below).

Müller's most famous and lasting scientific accomplishment was his formulation of the doctrine of specific nerve energy, which maintained that perceptual experience was the result of the nature of the stimulated sense-organ rather than the nature of the stimulation, per se. In his words: "[T]he same cause, such as electricity, can simultaneously affect all sensory organs, since they are all sensitive to it; and yet, every sensory nerve reacts to it differently; one nerve perceives it as light, another hears its sound, another one smells it; another tastes the electricity, and another one feels it as pain and shock.... [S]ensation is not the conduction of a quality or state of external bodies to consciousness, but the conduction of a quality or state of our nerves to consciousness, excited by an external cause." (As noted much later by Boring, this doctrine was not wholly original to Müller, but it was he who synthesized all of the evidence for it, and brought it to the attention of the scientific world.)

Müller had a reputation as a first-rate mentor, and gathered together many of the best students in all of Germany. He was considered a dedicated and supportive teacher, even by students who could not accept this own approach. This was certainly true of Helmholtz (see below), who rejected vitalism entirely. In an autobiographical sketch late in his career, Helmholtz had this to say about Müller: "As respects the critical questions about the nature of life, Müller still struggled between the older -- essentially the metaphysical -- view and the naturalistic one, which was then being developed; but the conviction that nothing could replace the knowledge of facts forced itself upon him with increasing certainty, and it may be that his influence over his students was the greater because he so struggled" (Helmholtz, 1898). I cannot help note in passing that it is tempting to see in this dispute between Helmholtz and Müller the same deep tension between different ways of studying the world and the mind which later caused Edward Wheeler Scripture and George Trumbull Ladd to fight so viciously (as described below). Müller worked with many famous students, of which the most famous was Helmholtz, and he also worked for a short time directly with Wilhelm Wundt (see below). Personally, Müller suffered from severe insomnia, and tended to do most of his work late at night (a great comfort to his academic great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson). He was also notoriously fastidious and obsessive about his work (no comment).

Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (1821 – 1894)

Helmholtz was an incredible polymath, and one of the 19th century's greatest scientists. He achieved the height of scientific accomplishment in his generation, and was roughly equally well known in different stages of his career as a biologist, physicist, physician, philosopher, and mathematician. Of his many accomplishments, he is perhaps best known for producing the first mathematical formulation of the Law of Conservation of Energy. He read this paper to the Physical Society of Berlin in 1847, but the older members in the society deemed it too speculative and rejected it for publication in Annalen der Physik -- which just goes to show that having a paper rejected doesn't mean it won't stand the test of time as an icon of scientific discovery through the ages.

Helmholtz was confined to his home in Potsdam for his first seven years due to "delicate health", but was educated in philosophy and mathematics by his father, and eventually graduated from the Potsdam Gymnasium. In 1838 he headed to the Friedrich Wilhelm Medical Institute in Berlin for a medical degree -- not because he was especially interested in medicine, but because this was the only ready route to a free advanced education. During his schooling in Berlin he conducted his work under the mentorship of Johannes Müller, considered the greatest physiologist of his day. He earned his MD in 1843 at the age of 22 (for work with Müller on the connection between nerve fibers and nerve cells), and then realized that his medical education wasn't quite free after all, but rather obligated him to serve in the Prussian army for 7 years. His army duties were few, however, and so he set up a makeshift laboratory in the barracks for his regiment in Potsdam, and soon thereafter produced his famous paper on the Law of Conservation of Energy. This work brought him early scientific fame, and he was released early from his army duties in order to be allowed (in 1848) to take up a position as Assistant to the Anatomical Museum and Lecturer to the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin. He moved the next year to Konigsberg in East Prussia to become Assistant Professor and Director of the Physiological Institute. The harsh climate in Konigsberg didn't agree with his wife's health, however, and so he moved in 1855 to become Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Bonn, and then moved again in 1858 to the University of Heidelberg. It was during the next 13 years in Heidelberg that he worked with Wilhelm Wundt (see below) as his assistant. In 1871 he moved back to Berlin to become Professor of Physics at the University of Berlin, and in 1888 was appointed as the first Director of the Physico-Technical Institute, the post he held until his death. He eventually received most of the prominent awards available in science, including election not only to the Royal Society (in 1860, with the Copley Medal awarded in 1873) but to the royalty itself (which came with an inheritable peerage suffix "von", bestowed in 1882 by Kaiser Wilhelm I). In 1971 (the 150th anniversary of his birth, and the year his academic great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson was born), Germany issued his likeness on a stamp.

Beyond his work on the Law of Conservation of Energy, he also did prominent and internationally renowned work on many other topics in physics, ranging from the hydrodynamics of vortex motion to the formulation of the double-charged layer at an electrode/electrolyte interface. (Much of his work in physics and electrodynamics is not well known today, since it depended on assumptions about the ether, a concept which of course was eventually destroyed by Einstein's theories of relativity.) He did equally important work in physiology, and was the first person to estimate the rate of travel of nerve impulses (~ 27 meters/second -- something his mentor Müller claimed in print would be impossible to measure). This work introduced the concept of reaction time to the field of physiology, and helped to demolish the doctrine of vitalism (enthusiastically propounded by his mentor Müller; see above). Throughout this work, Helmholtz was also an imposing inventor and engineer, inventing (among many other things) the ophthalmoscope (familiar today from any visit to an optometrist), the ophthalmometer (used for measuring the accommodation of the eye -- eventually the topic of the first scientific publication of Carl Seashore [see below], his academic great-grandson), the myograph (used for measuring the speed of nerve impulses), and the Helmholtz Resonaters (built from resonating spheres that could be used for analyzing and creating the constituent tones of complex natural sounds).

Closer to home, Helmholtz extended Müller's doctrine of 'specific nerve energies' (see above) to offer a comprehensive theory of color vision, predicting (for the wrong reasons) that the early visual system would contain three primary kinds of photoreceptors. He also propounded a theory of perception as unconscious inference, discussing why the contents of our conscious visual experience are not simple records of retinal input, but rather contain structure that is and must be indirectly inferred via automatic educated guesses. He proposed that what is perceived are essentially those objects and events that under normal conditions would be most likely to produce the received sensory stimulation, judged against inborn assumptions about the structure of the world. This principle (of 'coincidence avoidance') remains a powerful explanatory tool today for an incredibly broad range of visual phenomena, and the principle continues to be directly discussed as an overarching theory of vision (e.g. in a 2005 chapter by his academic great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson). Helmholtz also laid the foundations for the modern science of acoustics, in his 1863 book, On the Sensation of Tone as a Psychological Basis for the Theory of Music.


Johannes von Kries (1853-1928)


In the second half of the 19th century Johannes von Kries, a physiologist who was applying probability theory to the evaluation of the effectiveness of new drugs, realised that the computation of probability distributions depends on the classification of symptoms and pathologies into diseases. Confronted with a setting where the crucial uncertainty was the very definition of "events" by the experimenter, von Kries developed the logical foundations of a probability theory where the subjectivity of mental representations may impair the possibility of assigning numerical values to probabilities. With a series of distortions and misunderstandings, von Kries's ideas passed on to Keynes and formed the core of his economics.

Johannes von Kries wrote one of the most philosophically important works on the foundation of probability after P. S. Laplace and before the First World War, his Principien der Wahrscheinlichkeitsrechnung (1886, repr. 1927). In this book, von Kries developed a highly original interpretation of probability, which maintains it to be both logical and objectively physical.





Karl Bühler (1879-1963)


Karl Bühler obtained a doctorate in Medicine at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, but also carried out parallel studies in Psychology and Philosophy which he continued in Strasbourg. He worked as an assistant and Dozent at a number of German universities before being appointed by the University of Vienna to a professorship in Philosophy (with special reference to Psychology). Through his research in the areas of language and creativity Bühler, together with Sigmund Freud, made a decisive contribution to the development of Psychology in the first half of the 20th Century.

The breadth of Karl and Charlotte Bühlers' interests can best be seen by a look at their major publications. Karl's studies in the psychology of thinking stood at the beginning of his carreer. However one might judge their worth today (after the "Cognitive Revolution"), they still constitute (to our knowledge) the earliest attempt at the study of complex thought in the psychological laboratory and should be seen against the background of Wundt's program for psychology and Wundt's dismissal of the study of higher mental processes with the experimental method.

Next there are Bühler's studies on perception and his notion of Gestalt psychology which he however understood as a competitor to the Berlin school's view of Gestalt (Wertheimer, Köhler, and especially Koffka). Bühler was primarily opposed to the extension and, in fact, an over-generalization of the mainly perceptual phenomenology of Gestalt notion to thinking and reasoning. Without doubts, this was a continuation of the Würzburger tradition of cognitive research with its emphasis on the "Unanschaulichen" in thinking. And as we briefly mentioned earlier this research, in particular, had a strong influence on Egon Brunswik whose legacy, in turn, remains quite influential in contemporary psychology. The notion of an ecological approach to psychology can be readily traced back to Bühler. (We mean here the Brunswikean notion of ecological validity, not a Gibsonian one. This later is more indebted to Kurt Koffka who was one of the most important Gibson's mentors - see e.g. Gibson's preface to his "Ecological Approach to Visual Perception").

Another important early focus of Bühler's work and collaboration with Charlotte Bühler was developmental psychology. Bühler wrote the most read German textbook on the issue (at least until Piaget became available in the German speaking world) titled "Die geistige Entwicklung des Kindes" (1918). This textbook appeared in numerous editions and was translated into many languages (e.g. its Russian translation was preceded by a very favorable introduction written by Lev Vygotsky). In fact, Bühler had just finished the book when he came to Dresden (on a personal level it was inspired by their first child which was about two or three when they came to Dresden -- this is certainly in good tradition of developmental psychology!). Bühler's treatment of the mental development of the child shows a strong concern for the cognitive questions of representation and language. The study of language under a cognitive perspective eventually developed into one of Bühler's most important interests which culminated in his monumental "Sprachtheorie" (1934). In this respect Bühler is certainly one of the most important forerunners of semiotics and contemporary cognitive linguistics (see, in particular, works of Fillmore and Lakoff).


Karl Popper (1902-1994)

Karl Popper Karl Popper is generally regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century. He was also a social and political philosopher of considerable stature, a self-professed ‘critical-rationalist’, a dedicated opponent of all forms of scepticism, conventionalism, and relativism in science and in human affairs generally, a committed advocate and staunch defender of the ‘Open Society’, and an implacable critic of totalitarianism in all of its forms. One of the many remarkable features of Popper's thought is the scope of his intellectual influence. In the modern technological and highly-specialised world scientists are rarely aware of the work of philosophers; it is virtually unprecedented to find them queuing up, as they have done in Popper's case, to testify to the enormously practical beneficial impact which that philosophical work has had upon their own. But notwithstanding the fact that he wrote on even the most technical matters with consummate clarity, the scope of Popper's work is such that it is commonplace by now to find that commentators tend to deal with the epistemological, scientific and social elements of his thought as if they were quite disparate and unconnected, and thus the fundamental unity of his philosophical vision and method has to a large degree been dissipated.

His rise from a modest background as an assistant cabinet maker and school teacher to one of the most influential theorists and leading philosophers was characteristically Austrian. Popper commanded international audiences and conversation with him was an intellectual adventure - even if a little rough -, animated by a myriad of philosophical problems. His intense desire to tear away at the veneer of falsity in pursuit of the truth lead him to contribute to a field of thought encompassing (among others) political theory, quantum mechanics, logic, scientific method and evolutionary theory. Popper challenged some of the ruling orthodoxies of philosophy: logical positivism, Marxism, determinism and linguistic philosophy. He argued that there are no subject matters but only problems and our desire to solve them. He said that scientific theories cannot be verified but only tentatively refuted, and that the best philosophy is about profound problems, not word meanings. Isaiah Berlin rightly said that Popper produced one of the most devastating refutations of Marxism. Through his ideas Popper promoted a critical ethos, a world in which the give and take of debate is highly esteemed in the precept that we are all infinitely ignorant, that we differ only in the little bits of knowledge that we do have, and that with some co-operative effort we may get nearer to the truth.

Nearly every first-year philosophy student knows that Popper regarded his solutions to the problems of induction and the demarcation of science from pseudo-science as his greatest contributions. So I would like to mention some other aspects of Popper's work that are sometimes neglected. Popper's work is important not just to those who agree with his new bold solutions, but to everyone who recognizes the importance of the problems that Popper discovered, analysed and reformulated in a way that allows a solution. (Anyone who doubts the importance of"getting the question right", of revealing the web of sub-problems of a problem and their disparate connections to apparently unrelated domains, should consult the history of Andrew Wiles's proof of Fermat's last theorem.) To take just three examples, the problems of verisimilitude, of probability (a life-long love of his), and of the relationship between the mind and body will never look the same now that Popper has made important progress in charting the intricate structure of these problems and in offering at least partial solutions. Yet there are books on the mind/body problem, for instance, that simply do not mention Popper's work (for more on this attempted "refutation by neglect", see the introductory reading list).


Popper was a Fellow of the Royal Society, Fellow of the British Academy, and Membre de I'Institute de France. He was an Honorary member of the Harvard Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics, King's College London, and of Darwin College Cambridge. He was awarded prizes and honours throughout the world, including the Austrian Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold, the Lippincott Award of the American Political Science Association, and the Sonning Prize for merit in work which had furthered European civilization. Karl Popper was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1965 and invested by her with the Insignia of a Companion of Honour in 1982.



Jack Tizard (1919-1979)

Jack Tizard  was a pioneer of community care in Britain. His work on alternatives to institutional care in the nineteen-fifties and sixties underpinned the subsequent development of 'ordinary life' models for children and adults with learning disabilities or mental health problems. Jack was a pioneer in several fields. He was the first psychologist (other than Burt) to undertake epidemiological research, and he was later to argue for the central importance of this approach to the understanding of human development. He was also the first to study experimentally the learning potential of more severely learning-disabled adults, and the first to evaluate the effects of de-institutionalisation on severely disabled children and adults, starting with the famous Brooklands Experiment. Moreover, later, collaborating with Albert Kushlick, he took part in the setting-up of model community services, small residential units to replace vast institutions.

To have started his professional life researching the field of 'mental deficiency' proved an excellent initiation into the study of social disadvantage and its ecology. A large proportion of the milder cases, the majority of the hospitals' population, were drawn from environmental conditions promoting under-functioning, often involving gross neglect or cruelty. Jack had shown that the average IQ of these 'feeble-minded' persons, compulsorily detained in 12 hospitals, was 70 (traditionally the upper limit of intellectual disability), with a wide range around the mean.

Jack's conviction that people with learning disabilities should have access to the services available to the rest of the population, and not in the first instance specialist services, was an early expression of the need for social inclusion. His role as one of the authors of the famous Isle of Wight Study reflected his interest in the needs of all handicapped children. This total geographical sample of 10 year olds identified four types of disabling condition: psychiatric disorder, intellectual disability, physical problems and educational retardation. These often occurred in combination; thus some 16% of the child population was affected by one or more handicaps. Jack had frequently demonstrated the important implications for social policy of psychological research. During his last decade, his interests began to turn away from the needs of the learning-disabled to those of families with pre-school children. Then he began to study the quality of life which could and should be possible for the physically disabled. A further very important interest developed in exploring the educational resources which could be provided by parents. A very ingenious experiment with primary schools gave results which had a widespread influence on the teaching of reading involving parental input.


Neil O’Connor (19??-1993)

Neil O'Connor was one of the UK's foremost experimental psychologists, and a pioneer in applying experimental methods to the study of developmental disabilities. His work has been influential in changing psychological theory and practice in the treatment of children and adults with learning difficulties, and particularly those with autism. He is remembered with great affection by those who worked with him in a research career that spanned 50 years.

Early in his career Neil carried out, in collaboration with Professor Jack Tizard, pioneering work on the influence of remand homes on young people. He was Research Psychologist for the MRC at the Institute of Psychiatry from 1947 to 1966 and Director of the MRC's Developmental Psychology Unit at University College from 1967 to 1982. He carried on as Research Psychologist on MRC grants from 1983 to 1993. Overall, his research career has been concerned with cognitive problems in the mentally handicapped, the deaf, autistic children and people with unusual talents. Since his retirement he pursued his research with the Institute, working with Richard Cowan and Katrina Samella following up earlier work with calendrical calculators.


Peter Bryant (19??-present)

Peter Bryant is currently Watts Professor of Psychology and Fellow of Wolfson College at Oxford University in England. He has worked on reading acquisition in collaboration with a number of different colleagues with a focus on topics such as children's phonological skills and their role in learning to read, individual differences in reading skill, and the nature and causes of developmental dyslexia. Peter Bryant's work has done much to further our understanding of reading acquisition. In addition, this work has important implications for reading instruction.


George Butterworth (1946-2000). 

George was an authority on infant development, and internationally respected for his scholarship, for his committment to research and for the energy he brought to fostering infancy work both nationally and internationally.

After completing his D.Phil at Oxford, George took a post at Southampton University, moving to a Chair in Psychology at Stirling in 1985, before coming to Sussex in 1991. He was appointed Honorary Professor, University of East London, in 1996. His contributions to the discipline include founding both the British Infancy Research Group and the Journal Developmental Science, as well as heading numerous groups ranging from the Scientific Affairs Board of the British Psychological Society to the European Society for Developmental Psychology.

George's research interests were broad, encompassing topics as varied as the origins of self awareness in human development and evolution, and children's understanding of geographical features of the earth. But his most distinguished contribution was his work on the origins of thought and perception in infants, a field in which he was a world authority. His work on infant pointing and its role in cognitive development is on display in the Science Museum in London.

For more about George click here to read an article about the man and his work published in Developmental Science.