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In Memoriam


Click here to read Northwestern's obituary of Professor Rosenfeld


A letter from Dean Adrian Randolph:

Dear colleagues,

It is with profound sadness that I write to communicate the passing this week of J. Peter Rosenfeld, professor of Psychology.

Professor Rosenfeld received his B.A. and M.A. from Columbia University and his PhD. in Physiological Psychology from the University of Iowa (1971). He joined the faculty of Northwestern in 1970 as an assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor in 1974, and then to full professor in 1979. He was known as an authority on lie detection and more generally on Event Related Potential (ERP) research.         

Rosenfeld was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Neuroscience, the International Association for Study of Pain, the American Psychological Society, the Association for Applied Psychophysiology, the American Psychological Association, the American Pain Society, the Society for Psychophysiological Research, the American Polygraph Association, and the International Association for Psychophysiology. He served on the board of Directors and as President of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology, and as President of the Academy of Certified Neurotherapists. He was active on multiple consulting and review panels and was a frequent invited speaker at international symposia in his discipline and regularly published in leading journals. Rosenfeld remained active in his research, mentorship, and teaching. His outstanding contributions to science and our community will leave a lasting legacy.

On behalf of the Weinberg College community, I extend condolences to Professor Rosenfeld’s family, friends, colleagues and students. For those in our community who need additional support now or at any point in the future, please visit the Northwestern Employee Assistance Program.


Adrian Randolph
Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences



Comments From Friends:

If you would like to add a comment to this site, please contact Ben Gorvine at Please include how you knew Professor Rosenfeld (i.e., NU student, lab assistant, former colleague, etc).


I am writing with great sadness after hearing of Dr. Joel P Rosenfeld's passing. As an undergraduate student, I worked in Rosenfeld Lab from 2015 to 2017 after taking psychology classes taught by him. Dr. Rosenfeld and I published a paper in 2017 as a result of our work on ERPs, characterizing a new more frontal ERP we detected that occurs prior to P300 when subjects try to conceal information. I have very fond memories of both Dr. Rosenfeld's mentorship and my experience in the lab. As a lecturer and a mentor, Dr. Rosenfeld had a very extensive background and standing in the field, nonetheless, he was always willing to help his students, have discussions on science and encourage independent skill development. Because of my working relationship with the Rosenfeld Lab, I was encouraged to pursue a career in research myself.After my graduation, Dr. Rosenfeld was very supportive in my endeavors to pursue a PhD degree and kept in touch for multiple years. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to be mentored by Dr. Rosenfeld. I send my deepest condolences to Rosenfeld Lab members and the Rosenfeld family. I hope to be able to become a strong scientist and humanist following his footsteps. Warmest wishes-Ilayda Ozsan

Peter was a great psychologist, of course, but what I always found most extraordinary about him was that he was such a genuine and warm person.  When I was on my recruitment visit at Northwestern, he spent hours talking with me about his work and his plan for me in the program -- something I never experienced anywhere else.  At Northwestern, he was in the lab every day, doing great work but also talking with us about everything from politics, to opera, to our families. He was genuinely invested in our growth and success.  When I was out of the lab for two years working on my JD as part of a dual-degree program, he constantly encouraged me (always insisting I would be the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court).  And when my career path trended toward law and the legal academy, he encouraged me, rather than steering me in directions that might have been more helpful for his own career.  I am very sad to have lost a great scholar, mentor, and friend, but I will always look back fondly on our time together. -John Meixner, (Federal Prosecutor; JD/PhD 2013)

I was lucky enough to have Dr. Rosenfeld as my Ph.D. advisor for a brief while. His passion and love for his research were infectious and he made me realize my own potential in many ways. I will always remain grateful for his belief in me and the chance he has given me to pursue what I love. I was always in awe of all his stories in class, where he talked of incidences that happened almost 40 years ago to such detail. He not only taught us the concept, but he painted the whole picture. His constant encouragement, enthusiasm, and witty humor made me look forward to his classes and our lab meetings. I wish we had had more time together and his mentorship could have continued. But, I am happy I got meet him (virtually, at least) and I am happy that he mentored me, even if it was only for a year. I will always cherish these precious moments and take forward the many things he has taught me in this short while. He will be missed but his contributions to science will carry on. - With love,-Gayathri Subramanian (PhD Student, Psychology)

Peter was my PhD advisor for the last four years and the best mentor that I could have asked for. He helped me fulfill my childhood dream of studying lie-detection, and I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am for that. When I think of all the plans we made together – the hopes and ambitions for the future – it is hard not to feel robbed. Peter always lived like his best days were ahead of him, and I will certainly be grieving his loss for a long time. I do, however, find comfort in reflecting on the past and the many wonderful memories that I have of him. Peter and I accomplished a lot in these past four years, and I will always look back on our time together with pride. – With love, -Joseph Olson (PhD Candidate, BBC)

I was a student of Professor Rosenfeld’s and was later invited to work in his lab. Professor Rosenfeld was an amazing professor and an incredibly funny person. His passion for his work was evident in all that he taught us, and that passion was inspiring and contagious. He was very kind to me and, although I didn’t know him for very long, I really appreciated getting to learn from him.-Lindsey Adade-Yebesi (NU Student)

Many years ago I read one of Peter's articles about P300 and the detection of concealed information. I found it so interesting and inspiring, that I read more and more and in a short time I started my own research in this field. Peter always answered all my questions and shared his "know-how". I was always amazed by his very quick replies - now I know that he was extremely dedicated to his work and science and that he willingly shared his knowledge with everyone. A few years ago I met him personally and visited his lab. This was only a short, one-week stay in Chicago, but during that time he provided me with lots of opportunities to consult with him and to watch his and his lab members’ work. During that stay, I found out that he was not only a great
scientist but also a kind and charming person, an opera fan who could start singing at any moment, and a beloved Carmen’s husband. I returned to Poland but luckily we managed to keep in touch to the very last
moments. I had the opportunity to attend his lab meetings via Zoom, and this two hours a week was an inspiring but also a joyful time with many anecdotes by Peter Rosenfeld.-Yours faithfully-Jerzy Wojciechowski (Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, Poland)

I had the pleasure of taking [Dr.  Rosenfeld's] Neurobiology classes as an undergrad psychology major at NU in the late 1990s. His classes were difficult, inspiring, and really challenged me. His lectures on the trigeminal nerve piqued my interest, and then when we got going on his lie-detection work... now that really caught my attention. I had the good fortune of working in his lab at Cresap and contributing to the P300 work for a trimester.  Even though I never pursued psychology as a career, to this day, I remember Dr. Rosenfeld as one of my favorite professors during my time at Northwestern. Describing Dr. Rosenfeld's work in lie detection - remembering my work in his lab and the stories he shared in class - remains wonderful conversation at dinner parties that I always fall back on as something interesting to talk about with someone new.  Professors like Dr. Rosenfeld are what make the Northwestern experience memorable for a lifetime, and I just needed to share that. -Barb (Trzop) Noverini (NU Student, WCAS class of 1999)