Conference Awards

Steve Reznick Early Career Award

The Steve Reznick Early Career Award was created to recognize an early career researcher who has a history of scholarly work that has advanced the field.  The award is administered by the CDS Awards Committee.

About Dr. Steven Reznick

Dr. Reznick obtained his B.A. from UNC Chapel Hill in 1973, followed by his M.A. from Wake Forest University in 1975. He then went on to earn his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1982. He soon became the Research Director of the Harvard Infant Study and served on faculty at Yale University, before returning to UNC as a Professor of Developmental Psychology in 1998. Dr. Reznick was a key contributor to the world of Cognitive Science; besides founding the Cognitive Development Society he also authored several books and helped develop the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory and the First-Year Inventory, both popular scientific assessment tools. He was awarded multiple honors including the C. Know Massey Distinguished Service Award, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, and the Order of the Golden Fleece. It is only fitting that there is now an award in his name to highlight up-and-coming Cognitive Scientists.

Steve Reznick Award Committee

Kristina Olson, Princeton University (Chair)
Amy Needham, Vanderbilt University
Richard William Prather, University of Maryland

Eligibility and Submission Guidelines

The Steve Reznick Early Career Award was created to recognize an early career researcher who has a history of scholarly work that has advanced the field.  The award is administered by the Steve Reznick Award Committee. We strongly encourage applications of eligible candidates from all institutions in all geographic areas, including those historically underrepresented in nominations. Candidates who applied in the past and are still eligible are encouraged to apply again. If any questions arise, please contact

Self-nominations and nominations are permitted.

Faculty are eligible for the first 8 years of their faculty careers, except if they have achieved tenure* (*if you are at a university where tenure means something different than in the traditional US/Canada system, and/or it is traditionally granted upon hiring, and you are within 8 years of your first faculty position, please include a short description of your university/country’s tenure/promotion system to be considered for the award. Also, if you’ve had unusual circumstances regarding health, parental leave, etc, please include a statement about those circumstances for consideration beyond year 8).

Nomination Materials

  1. Candidate’s CV
  2. A statement by the nominator or candidate (for self-nomination) with each of the seven substantive criteria listed as subheadings. Under each subheading, in no more than one paragraph, the candidate’s contributions in that domain should be described. See the statement criteria section below.
  3. Two publications that best reflect the candidate’s research program.
  4. A statement by the candidate indicating that they have not been found guilty of any scientific or personal misconduct. If the winner is later found guilty of misconduct the award will be rescinded.
  5. Two letters of support (maximum 2 pages per letter) by individuals who can comment on the candidate’s accomplishments as relevant to the criteria.

Statement criteria

  1. Novelty of Research: Is the research novel and creative?
  2. Transformative Potential: Does the research have the potential to change how we think about cognitive developmental science?
  3. Methodological Innovation: Is the research characterized by innovative scientific methods?
  4. Methodological Rigor: Is the research characterized by rigorous scientific methods?
  5. Scholarship: Does the research build upon existing cognitive development science?
  6. Breadth of Influence: Is the research influencing multiple fields of psychological / developmental science?
  7. Broader Impacts: Does the work demonstrate a potential or actual broader impact on the world and/or has the scholar made a broader impact via mentorship, teaching, or informal or formal service?

How to apply

All materials except letters should be submitted together to the CDS Secretariat via email () with the subject heading “Early Career Award – [last name]”

Letters of support should be emailed directly by the letter writers to the CDS Secretariat () with the subject heading “Early Career Award – [last name] – LOS”

Applications will be accepted until October 10 at 11:59pm Central Daylight Time.

Key Dates

Nominations open: September 11, 2023
Nominations close: October 10, 2023

The award recipient will be announced at the Cognitive Development Society Conference in April, 2024.

2024 Winner

Deon T. Benton

Deon T. Benton

Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University

Deon Benton is an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in the Department of Psychology and Human Development. Deon’s research focuses on two broad topics. First, Deon studies how-or by what cognitive mechanisms-infants and young children learn about cause-and-effect in the world. Second, Deon studies how-or by what cognitive mechanisms-infants and young children acquire the capacity to evaluate other people based on their actions. Deon is also studying the relation between both capacities (e.g., does one require the other?) as well as whether the cognitive mechanisms that support one also support the other. Deon uses behavioral experiments with computational (artificial neural network) modeling to answer these questions.

Past Steve Reznick Early Career Winners

Hyowon Gweon (2022), Stanford University

Elika Bergelson (2019), Duke University

Marjorie Rhodes (2017), New York University

The CDS Excellence in Cognitive Development Research at Undergraduate-Focused Institutions Award

The CDS Excellence in Cognitive Development Research at Undergraduate-Focused Institutions Award celebrates the research being conducted at a wide range of institutions around the globe.

Eligibility and Submission Guidelines

  • The nominee must have completed the nominated work while at an institution that primarily focuses on undergraduate teaching (for example, in the U.S. this may be an institution that does not have a Ph.D. program in psychology). Candidates can be from or work in any country in the world.
  • The nominee should have been the “senior” author of the work (i.e., a project done while a postdoc at an research intensive institution, with a senior mentor, but published when the nominee was at a teaching-focused college is not eligible.) The work may be in collaboration with colleagues at research intensive institutions but the nominee should be the primary investigator. If the work does include co-authors, a brief description of their role would be helpful to the award committee.
  • The nominee’s example paper must have been published (i.e., formally published in a journal, not “accepted” or “early view”) in 2022 or 2023 on a topic of relevance to the Cognitive Development Society (in any peer-reviewed journal
  • For this award, “research excellence” is defined broadly, including papers that make important theoretical and/or empirical contributions to our understanding of cognitive development, present innovative methodological advances, and/or reflect critical initiatives to increase the diversity and/or generalizability of developmental science.
  • Ideally the nominee is a member of CDS, but this is not essential.


Award Committee

Andrew Shtulman, Ph.D. (Chair)
Mary Wagner Fuhs, Ph.D.
Kirsten Read, Ph.D.


Nomination Process

To nominate yourself or someone else, please submit the following materials:

  • A pdf of a 2022 or 2023 paper by the nominee that best illustrates their research excellence
  • The nominee’s CV
  • A brief explanation (one paragraph) of how the paper meets the description of research excellence and the nominee’s role as a senior author on the paper, as well as how the nominee’s school fits the criterion of a teaching-focused school.  There is no need to include additional information for this award (e.g., information about teaching abilities, other papers, etc), as the selection criteria will focus solely on excellence in research in undergraduate-focused institutions, as described above.

How to Apply

Applicants must submit the required materials directly to the CDS Secretariat via email using the ‘Submit Application’ button below, with the subject line: Excellence in Cognitive Development Research Award.

Applications will be accepted until October 10 at 11:59pm Central Daylight Time.

The award recipient will be recognized at the Cognitive Development Society conference in April, 2024.

Key Dates

Nominations open: September 11, 2023

Nomination close: October 10, 2023

2024 Winner

Anna Shusterman

Anna Shusterman

Professor, Wesleyan University

Anna Shusterman is Professor of Psychology and Education Studies at Wesleyan University, where she has taught since 2007. Before Wesleyan, she completed her PhD and a post-doctoral fellowship at the Lab for Developmental Studies at Harvard, working with Liz Spelke and Susan Carey. Her research explores the interface between language and conceptual development, with a focus on spatial and numerical cognition in typical and atypical development and particular attention to the linguistic and cognitive development of deaf individuals. In an applied project largely spearheaded by Wesleyan students, Anna’s lab has been testing a research-based, play-based early numeracy intervention in preschools across Connecticut. Her honors include a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation and Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Anna considers her collaboration with undergraduate researchers one of the great joys of her working life, and she is immensely grateful for their intellectual zest and camaraderie.

Past Winners

Mary Wagner Fuhs (2022), University of Dayton

Diversity Awards

  Supported by:

The Cognitive Development Society, with support from NSF and foundry10, is accepting applications for the 2024 Diversity Travel Awards. The CDS Diversity Travel Award will provide complimentary conference registration as well as funds of $750 USD to each winner to help defray the cost of transportation, hotel, and meals during CDS 2024 in Pasadena, CA. Please note the award will not cover all expenses.

Award winners will be paired with a mentor during the conference and the award includes an event where the mentor and mentee can meet.

Please note that a brief description of how your background has affected your experiences or work in cognitive developmental science is a required field in order to be considered for the award.

All information submitted will be kept confidential but shared among the awards committee during the review process.

Congratulations to the 2024 winners! 

First Round:

Kaityn Contino
Hannah Lunkenheimer
Norwood Glaspie
Zaida McClinton
Maria Calderon Leon
Madeleine Garza
Olufemi Shakuur Nyabingi
Qianjin Guo
Marissa Castellana
Mercedes Munoz
Monica Ellwood-Lowe
Christina Barnes
Zoe Pestana
Michelle Erskine
Meryem Şeyda Özcan
Sophie Charles

Second/Final Round:

Nicole Coates
Alexa Sacchi
Brandon Carrillo
Alexus Ramirez
Elizabeth Perkovich
Isis Angelica Segura
Mingxuan Zhao
Breanna Amoyaw
Natalie Sarmiento
Chuyi Yang
Natalie Quintero
Yilin Liu
Grace Ocular

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