California State University, Fullerton

News Categories

CSUF News Service

Psychologist Michael Birnbaum Named Shields Award Winner

April 15, 2014; updated April 17, 2014

A world-renowned Cal State Fullerton expert in the scientific study of decision-making, who collaborates with students on many of his published works, was recognized today (April 15).

Michael H. Birnbaum, professor of psychology, was surprised as CSUF President Mildred García, joined by Sean E. Walker, chair of the Academic Senate, entered his Tuesday morning class to announce that he is this year's recipient of the L. Donald Shields Excellence in Scholarship and Creativity Award.

García told students that their professor "has more than 25 years of continuous achievement," including the founding of the University's Decision Research Center, service as president of three international scholarly organizations, and author or co-author of more than 130 articles and presentations, many of which were co-authored with students.

One of those students is now an assistant professor of psychology at Cal State Fullerton; Kathleen Preston met Birnbaum in fall 2007.

"Dr. Birnbaum is passionate to help his students succeed," she noted, sharing her experience in his "Advanced Computer Applications for Psychological Research" course. Through his leadership, she and a fellow student combined their final projects into a paper later published in the Journal of Judgment and Decision Making. "I strive to be as influential to my students in promoting good research practice as Dr. Birnbaum was to me."

A member of the CSUF faculty since 1986, Birnbaum has been recognized as a two-time recipient of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Scholarship and Creativity Award, and was the 1992 recipient of the CSUF Outstanding Professor Award, in recognition of outstanding teaching, scholarly research, and university and community service.

Since 1991, the educator has garnered more than $600,000 in National Science Foundation grants that support his research on judgment and decision-making, as well as a series of advanced training workshops on Internet-based data collection he provides to academics from throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia.

"He has developed an international reputation as a highly productive scholar who advances the field's scientific understanding of decision-making," said Jack Mearns, CSUF chair and professor of psychology.

"In my opinion, Michael is one of the most intelligent researchers in the field of judgment and decision-making," noted Jerome R. Busemeyer, professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University. "He is one of the few researchers in this field who have, in my opinion, made theoretical contributions that will outlast their lifetime."

"His publications have been truly inspiring for me personally, and I admire Michael's commitment to the advancement of scientific knowledge, as well as his engagement in providing a service to the scientific community," wrote Andreas Glöckner, head of the Research Group Intuitive Experts at the Max Planck Institute for Research in Collective Goods in Bonn, Germany.

After the presentation, Birnbaum admitted that the announcement threw him a bit. "When I teach, my mind is full of announcements, assignments and instruction. The students were taking a quiz, and I was mentally preparing a review of the solutions to the quiz problems, how I would describe the next homework assignment, and readying myself to present the new material effectively. So when the president and other smiling people arrived with balloons, I was at first confused, and then happy and humbled to learn that I had been chosen to receive this honor, in recognition of my contributions to science and scholarship."

Birnbaum has served as president of the Society for Mathematical Psychology, the Society for Computers in Psychology, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, and president and co-director of the Eugene Birnbaum Foundation since 1999. He holds a doctorate in psychology from UCLA.

The Shields Award, created in 2012 and named in honor Cal State Fullerton's second president, is presented to University faculty members, in recognition of "outstanding scholarship and/or creative work that is demonstrated through a variety of activities." Birnbaum is the second faculty member to receive the award. Maria Linder, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, was the inaugural recipient. 

Senate Honors Shields Award Recipient

The members of the Academic Senate recognized Birnbaum as this year's recipient of L. Donald Shields Excellence in Scholarship and Creativity Award during their April 17 meeting. 

Both Walker and García spoke on Birnbaum's achievements over his more than 25 years on campus. "Dr. Birnbaum has an outstanding body of work," said García, "and he exemplifies this award with his record of working with students, one of whom when on to earn her doctorate and is now one of his associates in the Department of Psychology."

"I am very proud of Dr. Birnbaum and very glad that his extensive research, including his work with students is being recognized," said Sheryl Fontaine, interim dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Tags:  Academics & ResearchCampus UpdatesTitan Pride