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President of Bowdoin College, Safa Zaki will sit down with Portland Press Herald CEO Lisa DeSisto for a conversation at The Roux Institute at Northeastern University on Wednesday, September 25 at 8 a.m.

About Safa Zaki

Copyright Jessica Scranton

Safa R. Zaki is the sixteenth president of Bowdoin College, a renowned psychologist and cognitive scientist, and the first woman to lead the College since its founding in 1794.

Safa’s research focuses on how people divide the world into categories, using computational approaches to model cognitive processes in order to enrich our understanding of the human mind.

She is the recipient of funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, and her research has been published in journals including Psychological SciencePsychonomic Bulletin and Review, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, among many others.

Born in Egypt, Safa grew up in a number of countries, including Tanzania, Syria, Jordan, and Trinidad and Tobago. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology at the American University in Cairo and traveled to the US in 1990 to pursue graduate education at Arizona State University, where she earned her master’s degree and doctorate, also in psychology.

Named to the Bowdoin presidency in March 2023 by unanimous vote of the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees, Safa began her duties on July 1, 2023, and was officially installed in an inauguration ceremony on Saturday, October 14, 2023.

Safa is married to Huff Templeton, whose work centers on inclusive economic development and entrepreneurship. The couple has two recent college graduates—Adly, from Williams College in 2020, and Sabrina, from Middlebury College in 2022.


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