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2016 Keynote Address
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Perception and
Action in the Wild

Keynote Speaker


Roberta Klatzky
Carnegie Mellon University

Nov. 17, 2016, 8:00 p.m.


To paraphrase an old line, “What’s a nice cognitive scientist like you doing in a ___ like this?”  In my case, the blank can be filled with robot factory, biopsy suite, or summer camp for the blind. If I had been asked that question as I found myself  in any of those places (at the camp for the blind, in pitch-black surroundings), my answer would have been, pursuing cognitive science!  Although my career began rather conventionally, as I armed myself with some reaction-time apparatus and a book about ANOVA statistics, I increasingly gravitated to relatively ungroomed surroundings where my research could be applied.  I now look for the sweet spot that bridges interesting basic issues to human performance in settings where time and space are critical, and even small improvements matter.  I will talk not only about examples of this approach, but also about general principles that guide my choice of problems and methods by which I attempt to enhance perceptually guided action.

Roberta L. Klatzky is the Charles J. Queenan Jr. Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, where she is also on the faculty of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition.  She received a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Stanford University. Her research investigates perception, spatial thinking and action from the perspective of multiple modalities, sensory and symbolic, in real and virtual environments. The multi-disciplinary nature of Klatzky’s research has led her to collaborative research in basic cognitive science and allied disciplines, such as medicine and engineering.  Her long-term collaborations with Jack Loomis and Susan Lederman (great friends and both Psychonomics Fellows) demonstrated amodal spatial representations underlying action and introduced the sense of touch as a cognitive as well as perceptual modality.  Klatzky’s research trajectory has increasingly led her to consider perception and action in relation to applications.  She has studied the role of basic perceptual and cognitive processes in such applied domains as robotic tele-manipulation, image-guided surgery, navigation aids for the blind, and neural rehabilitation after stroke and traumatic brain injury.

Klatzky is a Fellow of the Psychonomic Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association, and the Association for Psychological Science, and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Her honors include membership in the Society of Experimental Psychologists, an Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, the Kurt Koffka Medaille from Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen, Germany, and being named an Ambassador for the Technical University of Munich.  Her professional service includes governance roles in several societies, including chairing the Psychonomics governing board, and membership on the National Research Council's Committees on International Psychology,  Human Factors, and  Techniques for Enhancing Human Performance.  She has served on research review panels for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the European Commission.  She has been a member of many editorial boards and is currently an associate editor of ACM Transactions in Applied Perception.

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Previous Keynote Speakers

2015 - Asher Koriat, University of Haifa (video)

2014 - Larry Jacoby, Washington University in St. Louis (video)

2013 - Elizabeth F. Loftus, University of California, Irvine (video)

2012 - John R. Anderson, Carnegie Mellon University

2011 – Nora Newcombe, Temple University

2010 – Robert A. Bjork, University of California, Los Angeles

2009 – Henry L. Roediger, III, Washington University in St. Louis

2008 – Daniel Kahneman, Princeton University

2007 – Marcia K. Johnson, Yale University

2006 – Mary C. Potter, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2005 – Michael Posner, University of Oregon

2004 – Anne Treisman, Princeton University

2003 – Gordon Bower, Stanford University

2002 – Roger Shepard, Stanford University

2001 – William K. Estes, Indiana University

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