Christie is a PhD

Congratulations to Christie Haskell who successfully defended her PhD thesis on May 20, 2016. Once the final text is cleaned of typos a copy will be available at UWSpace. The work looks at the relationship between attention - as conventionally defined as a manipulation of expectation by luminance cues - and other cognitive constructs such as memory and reward. The memory work was published in the Quartery Journal of Experimental Psychology. The reward work is in preparation now. Rather than look at rewarding particular stimuli or locations Christie set out to look at how performance based reward interacted with attentional cues. Does the relationship between how you perform and what you earn affect how you respond to cues? We combined these manipulations with cues of varying validity with the results that in some circumstances it seems that the benefit from a cue may be mostly explained by how quickly you are able to locate and saccade to a target, but that your efficiency for extracting information from that location may not be particularly malleable. Stay tuned for more details.

PhDs in psychology can offer broad opportunities

Christie is now working at Game Circus. Another of my former students worked for Square in Kitchener. While others are following a more academic track. This has helped me to realize how broad are the options for PhD’s in Psychology if, in addition to domain expertise in Psychology, they develop technical and computational skills during their training. Technology companies recognize the value of psychological and cognitive expertise if it comes packaged with the sort of technical competencies they need. And the world of being a post-doc also expects basic technical competencies above and beyond the domain specific knowledge that you get during a PhD. Given my group’s bent to be hands-on and rather DIY it is easy for students to make sure they have both domain and technical skills, and then the potential jobs for which they are trained is much more diverse, is larger, and it becomes more likely that students find a good fit for themselves personally, that also makes use of their graduate training. In sum, if that sounds appealing, and our research sounds interesting, I am always open to considering a PhD applicationi - whether inside or outside of the University of Waterloo’s “official” time table.