Silver Circles: Jamie Roitman

Jamie Roitman; Silver Circle Award Winner

Jamie Roitman, associate professor, psychology. Photo: Jenny Fontaine

Since 1966, the Silver Circle Award has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. Winners, who are honored at their college commencements, receive $500 and their names join a long list of distinguished colleagues. But what makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.

Silver Circles: 1
Years at UIC: 11

What does it mean to win this award from the graduating seniors?

It’s a real honor. One of the things that makes UIC unique and impressive is our undergraduates. I really enjoy talking to students as they’re figuring out their career, and life, paths. Students here tend to be very engaged with their communities outside of campus.

What do you teach?

I teach “Cognitive Neuroscience” and its lab course for undergrads, and a graduate seminar in “Advanced Cognitive Neuroscience.”

How do you engage students in your courses?

My lab course is very hands on — the students become experts in running experiments to measure behavior and brain activity. They conduct all of the studies themselves — both as experimenter and subject — which is far more instructive than anything I could tell them from a podium. In a larger lecture format, I try to help students see the connections between what we’re learning and their lives.

What are your research interests?

I am mainly interested in understanding the neural circuits that guide our choices. The prefrontal cortex plays an important role in how we make decisions and is interesting because it doesn’t fully mature until early adulthood. This means the very time that people often start using drugs and alcohol coincides with the period that they can do serious harm for adaptive decision-making in the long term.

What is your advice to graduating students?

Keep an open mind to find the problems you truly care most about. Ultimately, you will be more successful if you wake up every day excited about the work you are going to do. Also, turn off devices so you can engage with real people, and don’t sacrifice sleep.

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