Bernice Wenzel Jeffrey ’42 To Be Awarded Honorary Doctor of Letters

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 18, 2010

Bernice Wenzel Jeffrey ’42 will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters at the Undergraduate Commencement at 10:15 a.m. on Friday, May 21.

Bernice Wenzel Jeffrey ’42 has had a distinguished career in higher education. She was a Professor in the Department of Physiology and a member of the Brain Research Institute in the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1959 until retiring and becoming Professor Emeritus in Physiology in 1989. She also served as Assistant Dean for Educational Research in the medical school from 1974 and was Instructor and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Barnard College, Columbia University from 1946 to 1955. She was Instructor of Psychology at Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane University from 1945 to 1946.

Wenzel has used her maiden name throughout her professional career. Her continuing general interest has been brain and behavior, with a special interest in olfactory behavior. In July 2008, the joint meeting of the International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste and the Association for Chemoreception Sciences recognized Wenzel’s 1968 research on the olfactory acuity of kiwis as one of four notable discoveries in the 100- year history of research on smell and taste. A session on olfaction in birds was dedicated to her pioneering spirit. In August 2006, she was the invited keynote speaker for a symposium on Avian Olfaction at the International Congress of Ornithology in Hamburg, Germany.

Wenzel was honored as a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has been a member and officer of numerous scholarly societies and professional organizations where she has given frequent talks She has published many articles in scientific journals and books and has mentored several graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.

A 1942 alumna of Arcadia University, Wenzel earned a degree in Psychology with a minor in Zoology, held the top grade-point average for her class each of her four years, and graduated summa cum laude. She was active outside of the classroom in various clubs, managed the basketball team in her junior year, edited the yearbook in her senior year, was president of the Beaver Chapter of Psi Chi, national psychology honor society, and was a member of Lambda Delta Alpha, scholastic honor society. She earned a master’s degree in 1943 and a doctoral degree in 1948 in experimental psychology from Columbia University. In 1992, the Arcadia Alumni Association honored her with the Golden Disc Award for Distinguished Achievement.

Since retiring, Wenzel has remained active at UCLA. She has been president of the UCLA Emeriti Association and has served as a member or chair of several committees of the Academic Senate, as well as various administrative committees of the campus. Her husband, Dr. Wendell Jeffrey, is Professor Emeritus of Developmental Cognitive Psychology at UCLA. They live in Sherman Oaks, Calif., when they are not traveling the world.