Awarded annually to a chosen individual, the William James Prize found its first Filipina awardee during the society’s most recent meeting.
Joan Danielle Ongchoco, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, was the recent recipient of the prestigious William James Prize by the Society of Philosophy and Psychology (SPP), making her the first Filipino awardee since the award’s inauguration in 1997.
Ongchoco, who was announced for the award during the SPP’s 47th annual meeting last June 28 to July 2, was commended for her graduate project which focused on “Figments of imagination: Scaffolded attention creates non-sensory object and event representations.” Within her work, Ongchoco introduces a new phenomenon named “scaffolded attention,” and offers new and profound insights into how the human mind works to perceive non-sensory objects and experiences such as mental images, dreams, and hallucinations.
First convening at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1974, the SPP Conference began conferring The William James Prize to graduate students who have produced that year’s most exemplary paper.
The society’s annual meeting has since been considered as the premier scientific and philosophical gathering whose participants include the world’s leading philosophers, psychologists, and other cognitive scientists who aim to push the frontier of their fields.
Before getting into Yale, Ongchoco was part of the inaugural graduating class of 2017 at Yale-NUS in Singapore, where she graduated summa cum laude and earned the Outstanding Capstone for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.
She then flew to the US in the same year as a full graduate student-scholar at Yale University, where she finished her degrees in Master of Science in Psychology back in 2019 and Master of Philosophy last year. She’s currently completing her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology, which she expects to earn by 2023.