University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Stellar, Eliot, Ph.D.

Eliot Stellar, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Department of Anatomy, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine 
Date appointed: 1986

Dr. Eliot Stellar earned his B.A. from Harvard University in 1941, and then his M.S. in 1942 and his Ph.D. in 1947 at Brown University. He came to Penn in 1954 after teaching at Johns Hopkins University for seven years. He joined the Anatomy Department and was an integral part of the Institute of Neurological Sciences, becoming the second Director of the Institute (1965–1973). He left that post to serve as Provost of Penn from 1973 to 1978. Returning to the Anatomy Department, he was Professor of Physiological Psychology in the School of Medicine and served as Chairman until his retirement. Dr. Stellar was one of the original Kolb senior fellows, and became emeritus upon his retirement in 1990. In 1967 he received the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Physiologists. He received the American Psychological Foundation's Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement award in 1993. He passed away the same year.

Dr. Stellar was noted for his examination of the physiological processes of the brain and their affect on motivation and behavior. He was considered one of the founders of behavioral neuroscience. He co-authored with Clifford Morgan the second edition of Physiological Psychology (1950), which became the main text in physiological psychology for the next twenty-five years. He published a seminal article "The Physiology of Motivation," Psychol. Rev. 61 (1954): 5–22. He wrote with his son, Jim Stellar, The Neurobiology of Reward and Punishment (1985). He was an editor of The Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology. Specifically, his research at Penn sought to understand the behavioral and neurobiological basis for appetite and obesity in both humans and animals.

In addition to serving as one of the original senior fellows of the Kolb Society, Dr. Stellar chaired the University Scholars Program, the University Biomedical Research Support Grants Program and the biomedical panel of the University Research Foundation, and he was the coordinator of the Basic Science Curriculum of the Medical School at Penn. Beyond Penn, he was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the President of the Academy's Human Rights Committee. He was President of the Eastern Psychological Association and President of the American Philosophical Society.

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