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Dr. Linda Spear (Photo courtesy of Binghamton University, State University of New York)
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Scholarship Formed in Honor of WIU Alumna who was Neuroscience Pioneer

September 13, 2021

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MACOMB, IL – A scholarship, named for late Western Illinois University alumna Linda Spear, Ph.D., who was a pioneer in the neuroscience field, has been created within the University's College of Arts and Sciences.

The Linda Spear, Ph.D. Graduate Scholarship in Psychology was created this summer to award $1,200 annually to students in WIU's graduate degree program in General Experimental Psychology.

Spear earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from WIU in 1972. In 1976, she joined the faculty at Binghamton University, and later founded one of the earliest undergraduate neuroscience programs. She was the first woman to earn the rank of distinguished professor at Binghamton University, and she trained more than 50 graduate students for future neuroscience careers.

The scholarship was created in Spear's memory by her husband, Norman Spear, Ph.D., and daughters, Amanda Spear Hartley, Ph.D. and Jennifer Spear Smith, PhD., after she passed away in October 2020.

"Linda was a humble force of intellect and accomplishment," said Hartley. "As a Distinguished Professor in neuropsychopharmacology, she amassed over 450 publications, books, honors and awards, and mentored countless students. Her contributions to her field were significant and renowned, and her passion for science was ceaseless. She continued working until two months before her death. She was also a wife, mother and grandma, who loved her family. She believed strongly in education and would be pleased that this scholarship has been established in her memory."

In June, Spear was posthumously awarded the Fulkerson Outstanding Alum Award within the WIU Department of Psychology. The Fulkerson Outstanding Alumni Award traditionally recognizes psychology graduates who demonstrate a high level of service within their community, and a high level of professional accomplishments.

"We are proud that Dr. Linda Spear was an alum of the Psychology Department, and grateful to the Spear family for this scholarship," said David Lane, chair of WIU's Department of Psychology. "It will make a difference in a graduate student's life to have this financial support."

More information regarding Spear's many contributions, and her legacy, can be found at

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