Young Investigator Award



2015 Winner

Past Winners of the Young Investigator Award

2014 Winner

Duje Tadin

Associate Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Center for Visual Science, Department of Ophthalmology, University Of Rochester, NY, USA

Duje Tadin is the 2014 winner of the Elsevier/VSS Young Investigator Award. Trained at Vanderbilt, Duje Tadin was awarded the PhD. in Psychology in 2004 under the supervision of Joe Lappin. After 3 years of post-doctoral work in Randolph Blake's lab, he took up a position at the University of Rochester, where he is currently an associate professor. Duje's broad research goal is to elucidate neural mechanisms that lead to human visual experience. He seeks converging experimental evidence from a range of methods, including human psychophysics, computational modeling, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), neuroimaging, research on special populations, collaborations on primate neurophysiology, and adaptive optics to control retinal images. Duje is probably best known for his elegant and illuminating research on spatial mechanisms of visual motion perception - work that has had a lasting impact on the field. He developed a new method to quantify motion perception using brief, ecologically relevant time scales, and then used it to discover a functionally important phenomenon of spatial suppression: larger motion patterns are paradoxically more difficult to see. Duje's results revealed joint influences of spatial integration and segmentation mechanisms, showing that the balance between these two competing mechanisms is not fixed but varies with visibility, with spatial summation giving way to spatial suppression as visibility increases. He has also made significant contributions to several high-profile papers dealing with binocular rivalry, rapid visual adaptation, multi-sensory interactions, and visual function in individuals with low-vision and children with autism.

2013 Winner

Roland W. Fleming

Kurt Koffka Junior Professor Of Experimental Psychology,
University Of Giessen

Roland W. Fleming is the 2013 winner of the VSS Young Investigator Award. Roland is the Kurt Koffka Junior Professor of Experimental Psychology at University of Giessen in Giessen, Germany.  His work combines deep insight about perceptual processes with rigorous experimentation and computational analysis, and he communicates his findings with exemplary clarity. Roland is well-known for his transformative work connecting the perception of object material properties with image statistics.  Equally important is his work on shape estimation from ‘orientation fields’, which has been widely appreciated for highlighting raw information in the image that is diagnostic of 3D shape. Roland has also applied insights from perception to the advancement of computer graphics. He takes an interdisciplinary approach that combines neural modelling, psychophysical experiments, and advanced image synthesis and analysis methods. In addition to his formidable array of intellectual contributions, Roland has been a tireless contributor to the academic community, serving on editorial boards, organizing symposia and short courses, and training first rate students and postdocs.

Elsevier/Vision Research Article

2012 Winner

Geoffrey F. Woodman

Department of Psychology and Vanderbilt Vision Research Center
Vanderbilt University

Dr. Geoffrey F. Woodman is the 2012 winner of the Elsevier/VSS Young Investigator Award.  Dr. Woodman is  Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Vanderbilt Vision Research Center at  Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee. Geoff’s important contributions to vision science range from fundamental insights into human visual cognition to the development of novel electrophysiological techniques. His uniquely integrated approach to comparative electrophysiology has demonstrated homologies between man and monkey in the ERP components underlying attention and early visual processes, enabling new understanding of their neural bases. Geoff has also made key breakthroughs in the understanding of visual working memory, placing it at the center of the interaction between high-level cognition and perception.  In the ten years since gaining his PhD, Geoff has been exceptionally productive, moving forward the core disciplines of visual perception, attention and memory,  through his many insightful and high-impact papers. His breadth, technical versatility and innovation, particularly in linking human and non-human-primate studies, represent true excellence in vision sciences research.

Elsevier/Vision Research Article

2011 Winner

Alexander C. Huk

Neurobiology & Center for Perceptual Systems
The University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Alexander C. Huk has been chosen as the 2011 winner of the Elsevier/VSS Young Investigator Award. Dr. Huk is an Associate Professor of Neurobiology in the Center for Perceptual Systems at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Huk impressed the committee with the broad range of techniques he has brought to bear on fundamental questions of visual processing and decision making. Studying both human and non-human primates with psychophysical, electrophysiological and fMRI approaches, Dr. Huk has made significant, influential and ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of the neural mechanisms involved in motion processing and the use of sensory information as a basis for perceptual decisions. His contributions are outstanding in their breadth as well as their impact on the field and represent the uniqueness of the VSS community to integrate behavioral and neural approaches to vision science.

Elsevier/Vision Research Article

2010 Winner

George Alvarez

Harvard University

The winner of the 2010 VSS Young Investigator Award is George Alvarez, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Alvarez has made exceptionally influential contributions to a number of research areas in vision and visual cognition. His work has uncovered principles that shape the efficient representation of information about objects and scenes in high level vision. He has also studied the way that high-level visual representations interact with attention and memory, revealing the functional organization and limitations of these processes. His work particularly illuminates the interfaces of vision, memory, and attention, systems that have classically been studied as separate entities. His creative experiments elegantly represent the diversity and vitality of the emerging field of visual cognition.

2009 Winner

Dr. Frank Tong

Vanderbilt University, Department of Psychology

This year's winner of the VSS Young Investigator Award is Frank Tong, Associate Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University. In the nine years since receiving his PhD from Harvard, Frank has established himself as one of the most creative, productive young vision scientists in our field. His research artfully blends psychophysics and brain imaging to address important questions about the neural bases of awareness and object recognition. He has published highly influential papers that have been instrumental in shaping current thinking about the neural bases of multistable perception, including binocular rivalry. Moreover, Frank has played a central role in the development and refinement of powerful analytic technique for deriving reliable population signals from fMRI data, signals that can predict perceptual states currently being experienced by an individual. Using these pattern classification techniques, Frank and his students have identified brain areas that contain patterns of neural responses sufficient to support orientation perception, motion perception and working memory.

2008 Winner

Dr. David Whitney

Department of Psychology and Center for Mind & Brain, University of California, Davis

Dr. David Whitney has been chosen as this year’s recipient of the VSS Young Investigator Award in recognition of the extraordinary breadth and quality of his research. Using behavioral and fMRI measures in human subjects, Dr. Whitney has made significant contributions to the study of motion perception, perceived object location, crowding and the visual control of hand movements. His research is representative of the diversity and creativity associated with the best work presented at VSS.

2007 Winner

Zoe Kourtzi, PhD

Professor of Psychology at the University of Birmingham

Dr. Zo� Kourtzi has been chosen as the first recipient of the VSS Young Investigator Award.  The Award Committee recognized her many outstanding fMRI studies that characterized the neural loci of shape processing in the human cortex.  Her development of an important, widely used fMRI technique, �event-related adaptation� was also commended.  Her recent fMRI work on the maturation of visual evoked activity in primates is a promising new direction in her research program and demonstrates the diversity of her interests. This creative productive young scientist represents the best qualities of the VSS community.