The semester begins

Welcome to Fall semester 2011, and to the new CogSci news and announcements blog!  We’ll be regularly posting updates related to the department here.

For this first issue, we have plenty of news, including: more information about the website and this blog, details about the upcoming collaborative exhibit between CogSci and the Walters Art Museum, a welcome to our new faculty members and graduate students, a congratulations to Colin Wilson on his recently awarded NSF grant (collaborative with alum Lisa Davidson), upcoming events and talks by department members, and more!

Website updates

We will soon be rolling out a new version of the Cognitive Science website. An important part of this is upgrading our overall web presence. Here’s what we’re doing:

  • This blog! Linked also to the front page of the new website, we’ll update every 2-4 weeks with information on what’s going on in the department, alumni news, etc. If you have items you’d like to appear here, please send them to Kyle Rawlins (rawlins at cogsci dot jhu dot edu).
  • We’ll also be cross-posting updates to Facebook (Page: jhucogsci) and Twitter (JhuCogSci).
  • Full website update coming soon — more consistent with the overall JHU look, more updates to the front page.

Faculty member Colin Wilson and alum Lisa Davidson (PhD ‘03) awarded collaborative NSF grant

Dr. Wilson and Dr. Davidson (Phd ‘03, now Associate Professor of Linguistics at NYU) are collaborators on the recently awarded grant, “A Bayesian model of phonetic and phonotactic effects in cross-language speech production”. More details about the grant on NSF’s site here and here. Congratulations to both of them!

Collaborative exhibit with the Walters

Spearheaded by faculty members Barbara Landau and Mike McCloskey, the Cognitive Science Department is collaborating with the Walters Art Museum on the exhibit, Puzzles of the Brain: An Artist’s Journey through Amnesia. From the Walters’ press release:

"The show will tell the story of Lonni Sue Johnson, a successful artist who drew for The New Yorker. She suffered severe amnesia resulting from an attack of encephalitis in late 2007. The illness caused substantial brain damage, resulting in the complete loss of artistic productivity. Through intensive art therapy led by her mother Margaret Kennard Johnson (also an accomplished artist), Johnson began to produce a portfolio of “recovery art.” Her art provides unique insight into the devastating effects of amnesia, as well as the complementary roles played by language and memory in her artistic expression."

The exhibit opens Sep. 17, and runs through Dec. 11.

New faculty members, graduate students, and roles

The CogSci department welcomes two new faculty members Akira Omaki and Soojin Park.

Dr. Omaki’s research combines psycholinguistics, first/second langauge acquisition and theoretical linguistics, investigating (among other issues) real-time processing of language cross-linguistically, and the nature of the critical period. His lab (newly housed in Krieger 113) provides facilities for eye-tracking and other behavioral experiments. Dr. Omaki arrives to us from a postdoc at the University of Geneva with Julie Franck, and prior to that, a 2010 PhD at UMD in the linguistics department, working with Colin Phillips. He also has an MA in second language acquisition from the University of Hawai’i, working there with Bonnie Schwartz.

Dr. Park’s research explores constructive nature of visual perception and neural representation of scenes. In my work, I integrate multiple theories and tools from human vision, memory, and attention and make use of functional neuroimaging (fMRI) to understand the network of brain regions and the mechanisms that support constructive vision. Dr. Park most recently was a postdoctoral research at MIT, with Aude Olivia, and in 2008 finished her PhD at Yale with Marvin Chun. Her new lab is located in Krieger 119, and she will also be conducting fMRI experiments downtown at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

We also welcome two new PhD students and a postdoc. Emily Atkinson (Georgetown: BA in Linguistics and Psychology, MS in Linguistics) and Catherine Chambers (Most recently working in Amy Griffith’s lab at Delaware, Barnard: BA in Philosophy and Physics, Goddard: MFA) are the incoming students. Emma Gregory (PhD ‘10) returns to us as a postdoc, working with Mike McCloskey and Barbara Landau.

Last but not least, some new roles for current members of the department: Barbara Landau is now Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. She is succeeded as chair of the Cognitive Science Department by Brenda Rapp. Colin Wilson succeeds Dr. Rapp as Director of Graduate Studies.

Upcoming talks and department events

On Sep. 2, there will be a CogSci department welcome lunch at 12:00-2:00 in the cybercafe (Krieger 141B).

PhD student Mike Wolmetz will defend his dissertation on Sep. 13. There is a public presentation in Krieger 111 (the new classroom) from 11am-12, followed by a closed defense, then followed (we presume!) by a celebration at 2:30 in the cybercafe (Krieger 141B).

The full fall colloquium schedule will be up on the website soon, but for now, please mark your calendars for the following dates:

  • 9/22, Dr. Frank Tong (Vanderbilt Psychology)
  • 9/29, Dr. Greg Hickok (UC Irvine Cognitive Science)
  • 10/20, Dr. Valentine Hacquard (UMD Linguistics)
  • 10/27, Dr. Russel Epstein (UPenn Psychology)
  • 11/17, Dr. Charles Kemp (CMU Psychology)

Upcoming conference trips

PhD students Charley Beller and Erin Zaroukian will be presenting a joint paper Stage-level evaluativity is desiderativity at Sinn und Bedeutung 16 in Utrecht. Faculty member Kyle Rawlins will be presenting a paper Existential prepositional possessives at a satellite workshop on Weak Referentiality. Lilia Rissman will be presenting a paper Semantic argument structure across languages (joint with Kyle Rawlins and Barbara Landau) at a workshop on the argument/adjunct distinction at the Societas Linguistica Europaea meeting in Logroño, Spain.

New classroom

Along with the two new labs (Krieger 113, Dr. Omaki, and Krieger 119, Dr Park), we’ve added a new, larger classroom, in Krieger 111. The new classroom is in the hallway outside the main department area on the first floor, and will be the primary venue for colloquia and other such events, in addition to larger classes. If that weren’t enough, our old classroom Krieger 134A has been redone. Stop by and take a look!