Dean April Ruiz

Dean Ruiz was the first in her family to go to college and graduated from Yale with a B.A. in Cognitive Science. She went on to earn the Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of St Andrews and later returned to Yale for a postdoctoral research position. Her work focuses on social cognition in non-human primates, which has allowed her to meet and mingle with monkeys in the United States, France, United Kingdom, Japan, and Puerto Rico. She is co-author of several scholarly articles and book chapters exploring a cognitive ability called theory of mind, and she teaches in the Psychology and Cognitive Science departments.

Before becoming Dean of Grace Hopper College, Dean Ruiz served as a first-year and sophomore adviser at Yale and was Assistant Director for Yale College Fellowships at the Center for International and Professional Experience. In this latter role, she advised students on identifying summer opportunities that fit their goals and guided them through the process of applying for funding to support their plans.

Outside of her research and advising, Dean Ruiz loves internet memes and karaoke. It’s also worth noting that she loves to bake and will often leave goodies in the Head of College’s and Dean’s Office suite for any students passing by. Delicious!

Dean Ruiz is joined in Hopper by her husband, Neil Catapano, who is a certified radiographer and MRI technologist with a degree in diagnostic imaging from Quinnipiac University. In addition to his clinical work, Neil has been involved in a number of research projects involving imaging techniques, including an exploration of mummies in Gangi, Sicily.

You’ll often see Dean Ruiz and Neil outside with their dog, Benjamin Westerbrook. Not only is Ben a dog with a growing social media presence (follow him on Facebook and Instagram), but he also serves as official mascot and spokesdog for the Canine Cognition Center at Yale University, a role for which he is sometimes featured on television. His other interests include collecting sticks, playing fetch, and looking after all his fellow Yalies.

To make an appointment to see Dean Ruiz, contact Terry Becker in the Hopper Dean’s Office (; 203-432-0744).