Ted Gibson

Ted (Edward) Gibson. I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. My parents were both born and raised in Toronto too: my dad was an economist who was head of the wartime price controls in Canada during the second world war (1940-45). He was an older parent: born in 1909 (died in 1988). My mum was one of 2 women to graduate from University of Toronto finance in 1945. She worked at a bank before marrying my dad and becoming a housewife, as women did in the 1950s and 1960s.

I went to a private school in Toronto called Upper Canada College, where I learned lots of good math, and I learned how to row (crew). I then went to Queens University (Kingston, Ontario) where I got a double major in math and computer science. Along the way, I continued to row seriously, winning a bronze medal at the 1981 world championships and coming 7th at the 1984 Olympics. See here for the 1985 world championship final in the coxless 4 (4-). I am in bow of the Canadian boat, in lane 5 (in sunglasses; you can see me clearly at the 1:21 mark). We were in second place at the 1/2 way, but we ended up a close 5th (.75 seconds out of 3rd). That was my last world championships, at age 23. I decided to put more time in thinking after this.

In 1985-86, I went to Cambridge (UK) for an M Phil in Computer Speech and Language Processing. This is where I started studying human language. I also rowed for Cambridge in the Cambridge/Oxford Boat race, winning by seven lengths, and breaking a string of 10 wins in a row by Oxford.

In 1986 I went to Carnegie Mellon University to study computational linguistics, graduating in 1991. I married my college sweetheart Sarah Frisken, and we had 2 wonderful boys, Peter (born 1991, who rowed for the US at 4 world championships) and Mitchell (born 1995, co-author on our lab’s 2017 PNAS article). Sarah and I split up in 1998: that was a rough couple of years around that time.

In 2002 I admitted a student, Ev Fedorenko, into my lab who would change my world forever. She and I became involved as a couple in 2005 and she shifted to work primarily with Nancy Kanwisher at that time. Ev and I were married in 2008, and we have a wonderful daughter (Lana) and a silly dog (Ollie). MIT BCS was lucky to be able to hire Ev in 2019. Ev is perhaps the best scientist I have ever known, and I am proud to be part of our joint lab here at MIT.

I still row occasionally, and I keep in shape by cycling. I collect dinosaur relics and I have a great collection of brain comic books. Come see them at my office sometime.