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School of Arts and Sciences

Announcing Ayanna Thomas as next Dean of Research for Arts and Sciences

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Ayanna Thomas, Professor of Psychology, will become the next Dean of Research for A&S in September.

Ayanna Kim Thomas

Dear Colleagues, 

I am delighted to announce that Ayanna Thomas, Professor of Psychology, will become our next Dean of Research for the School of Arts and Sciences, effective September 1, 2021.

As you know, Dean Robert Cook plans to step down from this role, as well as his roles of GSAS Dean and Dean of Academic Affairs, after seven years of exemplary service. We have decided to separate the roles of A&S research dean and GSAS dean in an effort to give both important initiatives--graduate education and research--more attention and resources. 

I know Ayanna will excel in this new, half-time Dean of Research role and expand our school’s research profile. As dean, she will also supervise Eileen Coombes and her Research Administration team, as well as Assistant Dean of Research Jackie Dejean, who will also have a dotted-reporting line to the GSAS Dean and continue to serve as Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion for GSAS. 

In her role as Professor of Psychology, Ayanna investigates the subjective experience that accompanies memories. Her research encompasses metacognition, memory distortion, eyewitness memory, and age-related changes in memory. Ayanna came to the Department of Psychology at Tufts University in 2007 as an assistant professor, where she established the Cognitive Aging and Memory Lab. She was promoted to the role of associate professor in 2013 and professor in 2019. Since 2016 she has served as Director of Graduate Studies for her department, helping to maintain the strong reputation of the PhD program.

Ayanna received her PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Washington, and then spent three years as an NIA postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Ayanna’s research focuses on the relationship between memory and metamemory. She examines the role metamemory plays in memory acquisition, distortion, and access using a balanced approach towards basic and applied designs as they relate to education, eyewitness memory, and age-related changes in memory. Her more recent work has demonstrated that memory errors can be exacerbated when people are not able to exercise metacognitive control at retrieval. 

Ayanna has also exhibited much dedication to our school-wide DEIJ efforts—both personally and professionally. She has mentored students in the Visiting and Early Research Scholars’ Experiences Program (VERSE) with the goal of getting more underrepresented students involved in research careers. She recently served on the committee to create a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice strategic plan for Arts and Sciences.

Given her deep commitment to research, her decade and a half of experience being a faculty member in the research-heavy Department of Psychology, and her commitment to our DEIJ goals, she is the ideal candidate for the dean of research position. I know Ayanna to be a forward-thinking leader whose professional expertise will be a great asset to our dean’s office. 

Please join me in congratulating Ayanna in her new role. 

Sincerely, 

James M. Glaser
Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences