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  • June 9, 2019
  • June 14, 2020
  • June 13, 2021
  • June 12, 2022

Dartmouth 2011 Honorary Degree Recipient: Michael S. Gazzaniga '61 (Doctor of Science)

MICHAEL GAZZANIGA, if the brain is the final frontier, then you are one of its greatest explorers.

In your own words, you are a firm believer in the beauty and wonder of science. Your father, a surgeon, cultivated your childhood interest by helping you set up a biochemistry lab in the garage.

After following your older brother to Dartmouth, you were expected to go to medical school, but a summer job at the California Institute of Technology in the lab of psychobiologist Roger Sperry lit a spark that became a bonfire. After graduating from Dartmouth fifty years ago, you returned to Sperry's lab as a graduate student. There, your groundbreaking research gave the world a critical understanding of the ways in which the hemispheres of the brain specialize and work together.

In addition to undertaking a host of national leadership roles, you have trained and mentored many scientists in your career. In 1996 you returned to Hanover as a member of the Dartmouth faculty, teaching scores of undergraduate and graduate students, and establishing Dartmouth's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience.

Your landmark work, The Cognitive Neurosciences, is recognized as the sourcebook for the field. You also served for eight years on the President’s Council on Bioethics where, along with people with vastly different backgrounds and experiences, you tackled the moral questions surrounding such issues as cloning, aging, and stem cell research.

In 2005, your career came full circle as you returned to the site of your first faculty appointment, the University of California at Santa Barbara, where you run the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind. In May, you were elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Mike, you have taken your place in history as the father of cognitive neuroscience. For your extraordinary contributions to the field, and to the worlds of philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and anthropology, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree Doctor of Science.

Last Updated: 3/17/16