Staff Directory

Joan A. Sereno

Joan A. Sereno portrait
(703) 292-8847
W 13138
Division Director


Joan Sereno serves as division director of the Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences Division (BCS) in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate of the National Science Foundation. She earned undergraduate degrees in psychology (B.S.) and philosophy (B.A.) at Northern Illinois University, with minors in anthropology, biology, english and history. She received her doctorate in linguistics and cognitive sciences from Brown University. After postdoctoral positions at Washington University in St. Louis, Central Institute for the Deaf (CID), the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (The Netherlands), and UCLA, Dr. Sereno held faculty positions at Cornell University and, since 1999, at the University of Kansas. 

Dr. Sereno‚Äôs primary research area is psycholinguistics, the study of the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms that allow us to learn, produce and comprehend language. Dr. Sereno has published extensively on a wide range of issues, including cortical restructuring as a result of learning new sound categories and the relationship between underlying linguistic representations and surface phonetic representations in speech comprehension. She has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters and her research has been supported by NSF, NIH, the Dutch Research Foundation (NWO) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). Dr. Sereno firmly believes that understanding human behavior and its interactions with our environment is critical to the scientific enterprise and ultimately to prosperity and well-being, and that it is critical to communicate scientific discoveries to the public. 

Dr. Sereno has served as chair of the linguistics department at the University of Kansas, as editor-in-chief of Language and Speech, and currently serves as council delegate for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Sereno is a fellow of AAAS, the Acoustical Society of America, the American Psychological Society and the Psychonomic Society.  

Dr. Sereno is adamant that it is important to bring the excitement of research into the classroom. She is an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher and the recipient of many teaching awards, including the Gene A. Budig Professorship in the Social & Behavioral Sciences and the Chancellors Club Teaching Professorship.