Mentor: Dr. Benjamin Wolfe
If you are driving down the road and someone (or a moose!) steps into the road ahead of you, what do you need to know to stop in time? How quickly can you understand the scene and understand what you can do to avoid a crash? My lab looks to the world to understand how perception works, in driving and beyond, and how you avoid taking a moose to the face behind the wheel. To do this safely in the lab, we use video of real road situations, and this project will involve building an experiment (either for online data collection or in lab) to assess questions at the intersection of road safety, visual perception and cognitive psychology. We might look at how quickly drivers respond to an emerging hazard, or how we can keep them from missing rare hazards. We’ll build an experiment, collect data, analyze it (in R) and learn something new about visual perception and what that means for keeping drivers, and everyone else, safe on the road. You’ll be involved in all stages of this project, from working with stimuli to designing and coding the experiment, to collecting and analyzing data to disseminating the results. This is a particularly good project for students interested in using their knowledge of cognitive psychology and perception in the larger world, and who want to see how a knowledge of the fundamentals can be helpful in tackling real-world problems.
As a mentor, my job is to help you learn to develop your own ideas and questions. I do this through by helping you build technical skills in programming and analysis, but also fostering your skills as a thinker, writer and presenter, because you need to know how to do the science, but it doesn’t matter if we find something interesting and then don’t tell the world. You’ll gain these skills through a mix of individual meetings and lab-wide discussions, because we’ve all got different expertise and that’s how we all learn. My goal is for you to finish SROP with new skills and knowledge, and the ability to use them to further your own goals, both in graduate school and beyond.