November 2022 - Dr. Monica Fabiani

Dr. Monica Fabiani is the Assistant Head for Faculty Development and a Professor in the Psychology Department of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Her research looks into the development of non-invasive tools for mapping human brain function as well as the cognitive neuroscience of aging and human memory. Dr. Fabiani has authored more than 180 publications and she serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Psychophysiology. Additionally, she is a Fellow for both the Association for Psychological Science (APS) and the Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR) for which she also served as President in 2008.

From the University Archives:

One of the technologies Dr. Fabiani’s work utilizes is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Although his research was focused in the 1970s, Dr. Paul Lauterbur—the scientist whose research and ideas led to the development of the MRI—was a professor at the University of Illinois from 1985 until his death in 2007.  In 2003, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for this work. Along with the Nobel Prize, Dr. Lauterbur also has a long list of other honors including the State of Illinois’ highest award, the Order of Lincoln Medallion, which he was awarded in 1992. The University of Illinois distributed numerous press releases about Dr. Lauterbur’s many achievements, two of which can be seen here.


While Dr. Lauterbur’s work provided one of the tools instrumental to Dr. Fabiani’s work, there have also been women scientists at the University of Illinois conducting research in similar areas to that of Dr. Fabiani. This technical report from 1994 was co-written by an Emeritus Professor of Psychology here, Dr. Susan M. Garnsey along with Dr. Stacy L. Birch from the University of Massachusetts. The report is titled “The Effect of Focus on Memory for Words in Sentences” and relates to Dr. Fabiani’s research in neuroscience and memory.

Dr. Fabiani’s research has multidisciplinary elements, but she still works within and is an important part of the Department of Psychology. Psychology as its own department was established at the University of Illinois in 1893 following the first psychological laboratory which was created the year before. Originally, psychology had fallen under the umbrella of philosophy. While there are now many women psychologists—including Dr. Fabiani—who conduct important psychological research and play integral parts in teaching psychology, the absence of women in this brief departmental history from 1963 highlights that this was not always the case.

More women have entered the sciences, yet they have encountered prejudice and misconduct and universities have developed policies to address these issues.  After one Professor of Psychology was accused of misconduct by a woman student who he asked to help him with an experiment on sex, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences was quick to respond and suspend the faculty in question from all university duties. He was given half-pay for the upcoming spring semester with the understanding that he would not be reappointed. The promptness of this 1920 response highlights UIUC’s past and present dedication to supporting women scientists.

Sources and Further Reading:

Faculty and Staff Press Release File, 1951-, Record Series 39/1/11, Box 55, Lauterbur, Paul, University of Illinois Archives
Paul C. Lauterbur – Biographical.
Technical Reports, 1991-, Record Series 7/22/810, Box 2, Folder - Cognitive Neuroscience, 1991, University of Illinois Archives
Department of Psychology History, 1963, Record Series 14/19/5, University of Illinois Archives
Departmental and Subject File, 1913-2009, Record Series 14/1/1, Box 12, Folder - Psychology, University of Illinois Archives