Campus News

UC-Davis professor will deliver annual Torrance Lecture

Dean Simonton, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California-Davis who is recognized worldwide for his creativity research, will deliver the 2005 E. Paul Torrance Lecture on Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Tate Center Reception Hall.

Simonton, who has authored nine books on genius and creativity and written more than 290 book chapters and articles in professional journals, has been featured in popular media such as the A&E network presentation The Mystery of Genius, a two-hour study of that rare human trait.

The title of Simon’s lecture is “The Genetics of Talent Development: Putting the Gifted Back into ­Giftedness.”

“Recent research on expertise acquisition has argued that there is no such thing as ‘innate talent’ or ‘genetic gifts.’ Instead, exceptional abilities of whatever kind are slowly and arduously acquired through training and practice-pure nurture sans nature,” says Simonton. “However, not only are there weaknesses in the argument for expertise acquisition, but the case for a genetic contribution is much stronger than recognized. This is strengthened by conceiving talent development as both emergenic and epigenetic. After outlining a formal model of this complex genetic process, I draw the implications for both theoretical research and educational practice.”

Simonton does research on a wide range of topics related to genius, creativity, leadership, talent and aesthetics. In his investigations, he uses a variety of methods, including mathematical models, computer simulation and laboratory experiments. Nonetheless, most of his studies are historiometric in that they apply advanced statistics to biographical, historical and content analytical data about eminent creators and leaders.

A reception will be held immediately following the lecture.