New Faculty Profile: Assistant Professor Benedek Kurdi


We are thrilled to welcome Assistant Professor Benedek Kurdi to the Department of Psychology faculty as of Fall 2023! Dr. Kurdi is primarily affiliated with the Social-Personality area.

Can you briefly share your academic and professional background that led you to the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?

I would like to highlight three amazing experimental psychologists without whom I could never have started, let alone completed, my path toward the University of Illinois. Barbara Luka at Bard College invited me to join her lab and showed me how measures beyond self-report (such as reaction times) can be used to understand the human mind. To my huge surprise, Mahzarin Banaji at Harvard picked out my application from a huge pile and then taught me how to be a scientist (among many other things). And Melissa Ferguson at Yale helped me discover new directions in my work and guided me through the (often difficult) experience on the academic job market with unlimited compassion and care.

Looking ahead, what do you hope to achieve during your time at UIUC's Department of Psychology? Are there any long-term goals you're aiming for?

First of all, I could not be happier and more excited to be here. As for the future, I hope to continue the kind of work that I have been doing for over a decade now — trying to understand how the human mind learns, unlearns, and represents social information. But now, in this next stage of my career, I hope to continue doing this work together with my own lab, and I’m sure the amazing students that I recruit will take my thinking and the methods that we use to tackle these questions in entirely new directions.

On a personal note, what do you enjoy doing outside of your academic and professional life? Any hobbies, interests, or experiences you'd like to share?

I love baking (especially Hungarian recipes and yeasted cakes), reading fiction (more in principle than in practice during the semester), and going to the theater. And, temporarily, I’m a solo parent to our Cornish Rex Zsa Zsa until my spouse, who is a plant biologist, also joins the UIUC community at the end of this year.