Remembering BBS Professor James C. Bartlett

Editors’ Note: This feature appears as it was published in the summer 2019 edition of UT Dallas Magazine. Titles or faculty members listed may have changed since that time.
Dr. James C. Bartlett
Dr. James C. Bartlett, Ashbel Smith Professor of Psychology and a faculty member for 44 years in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) at UT Dallas, died on June 1 at the age of 70.
Bartlett, whose scholarly specialties ranged broadly over cognitive neuroscience and cognitive psychology, made many significant contributions to the research and teaching missions of the University and provided leadership in a variety of important capacities. He served as associate dean of the School of Human Development (the prior name of BBS) from 1989 to 1992; as dean of graduate studies and research from 1992 to 1994; as chair of the UT System Faculty Advisory Council from 2004 to 2005; and as head of the PhD program in cognition and neuroscience from 2004 to 2015. Most recently, Bartlett served as the interim dean of BBS from 2015 to 2018.
Bartlett received his bachelor’s degree from UT Austin in 1970 and his PhD from Yale University in 1975 — the same year he took his faculty appointment at UT Dallas and the first year that the school admitted undergraduates.
Bartlett’s research focused on how people receive and retain nonverbal information — from melodies to faces and places. He also was among the first to research holistic memory processing — producing pioneering behavioral evidence that the brain processes faces as a unit, and not by their individual components.
“I want my research to help people, but at the same time, I’ve always had an instinctive desire to discover things,” he said in 2015. “I tell my students it’s like Christmas morning when they come in with new data from a completed experiment. I don’t know where that comes from. It’s the kind of thing that brings me joy.”