Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

You are here: Home » Psychology » Pressroom » News » Dr. Gerald Turkewitz
Document Actions

Dr. Gerald Turkewitz

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Gerald Turkewitz.  He was a pioneer in his research and considered a major figure in the field of child development and human infancy studies. 

Gerald Turkewitz was one of a band of pioneers in American comparative and developmental psychology/biology who ultimately became one of the progenitors of the new field of developmental psychobiology. His experimental work, theoretical writings, and teaching were heavily influenced by his mentor, and one of the giants of comparative psychology, T.C. Schneirla. His life-long goal was to understand the developmental process and its role in emerging behavioral functions. He eschewed simple dichotomies such as the nature-nurture dichotomy and, instead, insisted that we must understand the complexity and dynamics of the developmental process to truly understand how adaptive behaviors emerge. To achieve this goal, Turkewitz and his many students and collaborators investigated a wide variety of behaviors, including rat maternal behavior and its role in the development of the young, development of lateralization in infants and adults, and the development of sensory/perceptual responsiveness in infancy and beyond. Central to all of this work was a focus on the critical role that early experience plays in the development of adaptive functioning and one of his lasting theoretical contributions is the counterintuitive notion that limitations in early sensory development are actually adaptive, rather than detrimental, from a developmental perspective. 

He loved Hunter and specially our students, as he was involved, even after his retirement, with many of our under-represented UG training programs. 

Besides his many empirical, theoretical, and pedagogical contributions, Turkewitz was a truly remarkable human being. He was a wonderful and loving husband, father to four accomplished children, grandfather to several grandchildren whom he visited constantly. He was an avid naturalist who, together with his dear wife, Myrna, travelled the world searching for yet another species of bird or plant to add to their life-list. He will be remembered for his enormous generosity with all who were fortunate to know him and for the kind, gentle, and ever-curious person that he was. 

Our sympathy is with his family in their time of grieving.

Gerald Turkewitz Memorial Award - Checks payable to:

Hunter College Foundation
East Building, Room 1300, Hunter College
695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10065

Tax Deductible, No Administrative Fees

In addition, contributions can be made via credit card here. Under "Donor Comments" please put Turkewitz Fund.