Stephen Suomi is Chief of the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in Bethesda, Maryland. He also holds appointments as Research Professor at the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, and the Johns Hopkins University, and is an Adjunct Professor at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Suomi was a member of CIFAR's Human Development Program, which closed in 2003, and is currently an Associate in the recently launched Child & Brain Development Program.
He studied Psychology at the undergraduate level at Stanford University where he received a B.A. in psychology in 1968, then continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin, receiving his Ph.D. in 1971. He began his professional career in the University of Wisconsin's Psychology Department, where he attained full professorship in 1984. In 1983, he began his work at the NICHD.
Dr. Suomi has received international recognition for his extensive research on biobehavioral development in rhesus monkeys and other nonhuman primate species. His initial postdoctoral research (with his mentor, Harry F. Harlow) successfully reversed the adverse behaviour effects of early social isolation, previously thought to be permanent, in this species. His subsequent research at the University of Wisconsin led to his election as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science "for major contributions to the understanding of social factors that influence the psychological development of nonhuman primates". Since joining the NICHD, he has described interactions between genetic and environmental factors that shape individual biobehavioural development, characterized both behavioural and physiological features of distinctive rhesus monkey phenotypes, and demonstrated the adaptive significance of these different phenotypes in naturalistic settings.
Dr. Suomi has delivered over 300 invited colloquia, workshop and symposium presentations, and convention papers. He has presented invited colloquia at approximately 100 colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cambridge, Michigan, Berkeley, Brown, and Princeton, and has participated in various scientific workshops and symposia in ten foreign countries. He has also authored or co-authored over 300 published articles in refereed scientific journals and chapters in edited volumes.
Dr. Suomi describes his current research interests as follows:
During the past several years, my laboratory at the National Institutes of Health has been carrying out a broad program of research with rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) investigating biobehavioural development throughout the lifespan. Three general themes have characterized this work: first, the role of specific genetic and environmental factors (and their interactions) in shaping individual developmental trajectories; second, the issue of developmental continuity vs. change and the relative stability of individual differences throughout development; and third, the degree to which research findings from monkeys studied in captivity generalize not only to monkeys living in the wild but also to humans living in different cultures.
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