Robert Cook Named Dean of GSAS

Former psychology department chair to emphasize quality in graduate education

Bob Cook in front of Ballou Hall

Robert Cook has been named dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He had served as interim dean since last November.

“I am confident that Dean Cook has the energy, commitment and vision to lead and strengthen our graduate school in the coming years,” Arts and Sciences Dean Joanne Berger-Sweeney wrote in an announcement to the Tufts community.

“One of the hallmarks of our institution is its remarkable and integrated combination of undergraduate and graduate excellence within the personalized setting that is Tufts,” says Cook.  “I look forward to working with all of the departments to advance graduate education across the campus over the next few years.”

Cook began his career at Tufts in 1986, when he joined the Department of Psychology as an assistant professor. He was promoted to full professor in 1999, and served as department chair from 2005 to 2011. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and a past president of the Comparative Cognition Society.

He has studied animal cognition and behavior for more than 25 years. His comparative research, supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, has focused on stimulus control, discrimination learning and memory in animals. In particular, he has been very interested in the mechanisms of visual perception and discrimination learning in pigeons and starlings, and their comparative relations to our own perception of the world.

As interim dean, Cook began an analysis of the graduate school’s recruitment and admissions strategy, and, working with other members of the Arts and Sciences leadership team, he will concentrate on increasing the quality and diversity of the graduate student body.

Cook received a B.S. in psychology from Ohio State University and his doctorate in biopsychology from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston before coming to Tufts. He is co-founder and current publisher of Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews and has served on the editorial boards of the top journals in animal cognition. He has also been very active in broadening the impact and public visibility of the scientific work in the discipline through the Internet with the publication of the multimedia ebooks Avian Visual Cognition and Animal Spatial Cognition.

In his role as dean, Cook will be assisted by Sinaia Nathanson, associate dean of GSAS, who received her Ph.D. in psychology from Tufts in 1986. She is a senior lecturer in the psychology department.

Taylor McNeil can be reached at

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