Renowned Comparative Psychologist to Speak at Student Research Symposium

Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., known for grey parrot research, will receive Clavius Award

Friday, April 12, 2013

by James Sanders '13 (M.A.)

PHILADELPHIA (April 12, 2013) — The Saint Joseph’s University Chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, will host the 24th annual student research symposium on Friday, April 19. Keynote speaker Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., research associate and lecturer in psychology at Harvard University and adjunct associate professor in psychology at Brandeis University, will receive the Christopher Clavius, S.J., Award, an honor that recognizes inspirational and groundbreaking scientists and researchers.

The address, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for 5 p.m. on campus in the Wolfington Teletorium in Mandeville Hall.

In her presentation, "Numerical Competence Studies on a Grey Parrot," Pepperberg will discuss her work with an African grey parrot that was taught to use the English counting words “one” through “sih” (six) to label sets of one to six individual items.

“Dr. Pepperberg is a world-renowned comparative psychologist and a foremost authority on the cognitive capabilities of animals,” says Matthew Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and president of SJU’s Sigma Xi chapter. “Through her studies on cognition in African grey parrots, she has provided groundbreaking insight into the workings of the avian mind. Her articles and books have been well received not only by the scientific community but also the general public, and she has made a profound impact on our understanding of, and appreciation for, animals in general. We are delighted to have her speak at this year's symposium and to honor her with the Christopher Clavius, S.J., Award.”

Pepperberg earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Harvard. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Harry Frank Guggenheim and Whitehall Foundations and numerous grants from the National Science Foundation. Her book, The Alex Studies, which describes more than 20 years of peer-reviewed experiments on grey parrots, received favorable mention from publications as diverse as the New York Times and Science. Her memoir, Alex & Me, was a New York Times bestseller and won a Christopher Award.

The symposium gives undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to present their research in mathematics, computer science, engineering, and the natural and social sciences, and to view the work of their peers. More than 340 students and faculty from the region’s colleges and universities are expected to attend this year, with approximately 170 student research projects presented during the poster session.

“The Sigma Xi symposium is an excellent venue for students to gain experience presenting their research in a professional manner, and also allows for networking opportunities with others in their discipline and beyond,” says Anderson.

For additional information, visit

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Senior Associate Director of University Communications, 610-660-3240,


As Philadelphia's Jesuit, Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. SJU ranks as a top university in the Northeast, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the College of Arts and Sciences and AACSB accreditation of the  Erivan K. Haub School of Business. The University is also deeply committed to the Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service, earning a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With courses offered on campus and online, SJU prepares its more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students to lead lives of personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.


Expand this section