In Memoriam -- Dr. Esther Strauss

Psychologist was committed to family, students, research

Dr. Esther Strauss of the Department of Psychology passed away on June 17 at the Palliative Care Unit at Royal Jubilee Hospital after a three-and-a-half-year battle with ovarian cancer.

Esther obtained her BA at McGill University in 1969, where she majored in psychology and sociology. She then earned master’s degrees in sociology from Northeastern University (1971) and in special education from Boston University (1972).

Between 1973 and 1976 she worked at the Aphasia Research Center in the Boston Veterans Administration Hospital, where she developed her long-standing commitment to neuropsychological research.

She completed her doctorate in psychology under Prof. Morris Moscovitch in 1980 at the University of Toronto. Esther then took up a position as assistant professor of psychology at the University of Victoria. She attained the rank of full professor in 1991.

Among her numerous accomplishments, Esther co-authored (with Prof. Otfried Spreen and Dr. Elizabeth Sherman) the standard reference text on neuropsychological tests widely used for clinical diagnosis and evaluation.

Very shortly after arriving at UVic, she entered into a long-standing and very productive collaboration with Prof. Juhn Wada of the University of British Columbia medical school. Together, they published important articles on brain organization based on neurological evidence.

More recently, Esther forged a highly successful collaboration (Project MIND) with Profs. David Hultsch and Michael Hunter in which they investigated how short-term fluctuations in a person’s reaction time predict later mental decline.

As part of her productive program of research, she mentored numerous graduate students who have gone on to successful careers in both academic and clinical
These are the objective achievements of an outstanding career. Although impressive, they do not convey the full measure of Esther’s impact on students, colleagues and the university.

Simply put, Esther was a treasure of a person. She was smart, warm, funny and committed to her students, colleagues, department and university. To illustrate the latter, two weeks before her death she participated in one of her student’s dissertation defense.

Even with all her professional accomplishments, Esther always said her greatest achievement was her kids Ze’ev, Avital. and Tamar. She was one of those people who did it all and did it well. We deeply mourn her passing.

Submitted by Dr. David Hultsch, Department of Psychology


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