Cleotilde Gonzalez

The Cognitive Science Society announced seven research scientists, including Carnegie Mellon University’s Cleotilde Gonzalez, as 2021 Fellows. Gonzalez joins a selected group of 120 researchers, who have been recognized for their sustained excellence and impact on the cognitive science community.

“I have dedicated my career to understanding the cognitive processes by which people make decisions in dynamic environments,” said Gonzalez, a research professor in Social and Decision Sciences at CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “This is a unique honor for me, a woman from Mexico, belonging to a large family of nine kids, the first woman in the family to get a Ph.D., and who had to confront a number of obstacles being an underrepresented minority in a very competitive environment. To me, it is this part of my story that makes the recognition more significant.”

Gonzalez’s research focuses on how people and machines make multiple, interdependent, real-time decisions while adapting to external changes and using past experience. She conducts experimental studies using games and computational cognitive models. Her work has led to the development of a theory of decisions from experience, called Instance-Based Learning (IBL) Theory. She and her colleagues have promoted IBL computational models that are able to generate predictions of decisions humans would make in particular domains and according to individualized experiences. These results are used to help decision makers make better choices.

“Computational representations of human decision-making are very powerful,” said Gonzalez. “We [can] apply these ideas in areas as diverse as cybersecurity, [including] phishing and defense resource allocation, social dilemmas, human-machine teaming, recommender systems and other domains.”

Gonzalez received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration from Universidad de las Americas-Puebla, Mexico and a Master of Science and Doctoral degrees from Texas Tech University. Shortly after completing her doctoral degree, she secured a postdoctoral fellowship at the Tepper School of Business at CMU. She obtained an assistant professor position with SDS in 2000 and advanced to an associate research professor position seven years later. Gonzalez was named a research professor in SDS in 2015. She has advised more than 30 postdoctoral fellows and four doctoral students.

Gonzalez was elected to the Governing Board of the Cognitive Science Society in 2019. She was selected as a society fellow with the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society in 2014. She is the principal investigator or co-investigator on more than 20 grants. She has published more than 120 research papers.

“SDS is exceedingly fortunate to have someone of Coty’s caliber on our faculty,” said Professor of Social and Decision Sciences Gretchen Chapman, who is serving as interim department head. “Not only is she brilliant and productive, but she is also generous with her time and committed to enhancing Dietrich College.”

The Cognitive Science Society brings together researchers from around the world to promote cognitive science as a discipline and to foster scientific interchange among researchers in various areas of study, including artificial intelligence, linguistics, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy and education.

Author: Stacy Kish

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