Rosemary Pierrel, class of 1953

Rosemary Pierrel Sorrentino received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Boston University (1945 and 1946, respectively), and her Ph.D. from Brown University in 1953. She was an instructor at Wheelock College in Boston from 1946 to 1949 and at Brown University from 1953 to 1955 before heading to Columbia University to teach experimental psychology. She went on to become the last dean of Pembroke College and one of the first female professors at Brown. During her decade as dean, she emphasized academics and encouraged women to pursue careers as scholars. Under her tenure the number of women concentrating in the sciences increased. As dean she also served as an associate professor, teaching a senior seminar in psychology.

Well known for her role in the Barnabus study at Brown University, Sorrentino carried out experiments to produce evidence of learning through reward and punishment in rats. She received an honorary degree in Humane Letters from Brown University in 1992, and continued to do research on auditory sensitivity and loudness perception in rats and chinchillas at Brown University. She was a long-standing member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Psychological Association.

Sorrentino was named a full professor in 1971. Her research focused on the auditory behavior of chinchillas. In 1981 she took on the prestigious role of mace bearer at Commencement. She became a professor emerita of psychology in 1987 and received an honorary doctorate in 1991. She married Dr. Louis Sorrentino, a professor of psychiatry. She died on November 11, 2004, in Providence at the age of eighty-one.