Loftus Honored with Scientific Freedom & Responsibility Award

March 2011

Elizabeth Loftus, Distinguished Professor of Social Ecology, received the 2010 Scientific Freedom & Responsibility Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science at its 177th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. The association honored Loftus for "the profound impact that her pioneering research on human memory has had on the administration of justice in the United States and abroad."

The Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award is presented annually by American Association for the Advancement of Science to honor individual scientists and engineers or organizations for exemplary actions that help foster scientific freedom and responsibility. The award recognizes outstanding efforts to protect the public's health, safety or welfare; to focus public attention on potential impacts of science and technology; to establish new precedents in carrying out social responsibilities; or to defend the professional freedom of scientists and engineers.

Loftus, who has testified at more than 200 civil and criminal trials, has demonstrated that memories can be implanted or manipulated through a variety of means. Such testimony has often been controversial. Her work has been vindicated by the finding - based on the more than 250 U.S. prisoners freed after subsequent DNA analysis - that the most common reason for wrongful conviction is faulty eyewitness testimony.