VSS and COVID-19 Update

The Vision Sciences Society meeting is scheduled to take place as planned from May 15-20 in St. Pete Beach, Florida.

VSS is continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation and the potential impacts on travel to the meeting. At present, VSS is following the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Health Notice Warning Levels.

For presenters traveling from countries for which a CDC Warning Level 3 Travel Health Notice has been issued, VSS is offering two alternatives to attending the meeting:

  1. Present Remotely: Talk presenters have the option of presenting a pre-recorded talk. Poster presenters have the option to send the poster in electronic format to VSS, to be printed and hung during their scheduled session. Substitute presenters for posters are allowed, but not required. All presenters from Level 3 countries choosing the remote presentation option will need to register for the meeting. Requests for remote presentation must be submitted to by April 1, 2020.
  2. Withdraw Abstract: Presenters from Level 3 countries who choose not to participate remotely may withdraw their abstract. Full registration refunds will be provided. Please email by April 1, 2020 to formally withdraw and to request a registration refund. Membership fees are not refundable.

For non-presenting registrants traveling from Level 3 countries, VSS will provide a full registration refund if requested. Registration refund requests must be submitted to by April 1, 2020. Membership fees are not refundable.

Currently, the following four countries fall under a CDC Warning Level 3 Travel Health Notice: China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.

For all other VSS registrants and presenters, VSS is currently continuing to follow the standard VSS policies for registration refunds and abstract withdrawals.

The COVID-19 situation is very much in flux. VSS will continue to monitor and evaluate, and to keep the membership updated as new information becomes available.

If you have specific questions regarding the VSS meeting, please contact us at . For the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19, please refer to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and the World Health Organization.

FABBS February 15, 2019 Newsletter


Deal Reached to Keep Government Open; Administration FY 2020 Budget Request Delayed

At press time, a budget deal to avoid another partial shutdown awaited the President’s signature. The conference report provides budgets for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2019 to nine departments and dozens of agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF). The bill would give $8.075 billion to NSF, a $308 million increase from FY 2018, reflecting $6.52 billion for research and related activities and $910 million for the Education and Human Resources Directorate.

During the uncertainty leading up to the budget deal, FABBS joined nobel laureates and science community leaders on a letter to Members of Congress and the President. The letter explained how the shutdown harmed the American scientific enterprise.

Congress will turn their attention to the FY 2020 budget and will once again be facing budget caps, according to a 2011 deficit reduction law. Since the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress has waited until the very last minute before coming to bipartisan agreements to raise the caps. In the absence of an agreement, Congress will face spending cuts of $126 billion from this year’s levels.


The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health has issued a request for information to gather broad public input on a revised definition of behavioral and social science research. The definition is used to assess and monitor NIH support of the behavioral and social sciences across all NIH Institutes and Centers. Comments must be submitted through IdeaScale by February 22, 2019.

NSF Announces Substantial Funding Opportunities Relevant to SBE Scientists

There are new funding opportunities at NSF for behavioral and brain sciences. They are called the “Big Ideas” and they focus on critical issues in science and society. The purpose of each Big Idea is to motivate dynamic and innovative scholars to create and implement new and potentially transformative interdisciplinary approaches to some very large societal challenges. See letter from NSF Associate Director of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arthur “Skip” Lupia here.

Joanne Tornow to Lead Biological Sciences Directorate

Dr. Tornow has served with NSF for nearly two decades, including two years as deputy assistant director for NSF’s Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate (SBE); and a year as acting head of SBE. This past year she led BIO in an acting capacity Her work at NSF has included supporting cross-disciplinary, convergent research that draws on the strengths of scientists and engineers across multiple fields to solve problems.

FABBS joins community sign-on letter urging the Education Department to use research and evidence to inform Title IX Sexual Harassment Regulations

Led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA), FABBS joined 72 scientific societies to submit comments to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

Title IX is the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding. In November, the Education Department issued draft changes to Title IX that would narrowly redefine sexual harassment and restrict the processes at U.S. schools and colleges for reporting and responding to charges of sexual harassment.

FABBS President, Nora Newcombe, said “The potential rollback of Title IX protections for women has serious implications for science and is of concern to us all. These comments are based on evidence and aim to create safe and productive environments for scientific discovery. FABBS appreciates the opportunity to take a stand to support our female colleagues and the women who we teach and train.”

The comments submitted by the scientific societies today emphasize three major concerns and cite relevant research:

  • The Definition of Harassment Has Been Narrowed at Odds with the Intent of Title IX
  • The Circumstances Under Which Title IX Applies Are Too Restrictive
  • The Notice Requirements Are Too Restrictive



Announcing the 2019 Satellite Events

Wednesday, May 15

Computational and Mathematical Models in Vision (MODVIS)

Wednesday, May 15 – Friday, May 17, Horizons
9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Wednesday
9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Thursday
8:30 – 11:45 am, Friday

Organizers: Jeff Mulligan, NASA Ames Research Center; Zygmunt Pizlo, UC Irvine; Anne B. Sereno, Purdue University; and Qasim Zaidi, SUNY College of Optometry

Keynote Selection Committee: Yalda Mohsenzadeh, MIT; Michael Rudd, University of Washington

The 8th VSS satellite workshop on Computational and Mathematical Models in Vision (MODVIS) will be held at the Tradewinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach, FL, May 15 – May 17.

A keynote address will be given by Dr. Yanxi Liu, Penn State University.

The early registration fee is $100 for regular participants, $50 for students. After March 31st, the registration fee will increase to $120 (regular) and $60 (student). More information can be found on the workshop’s website: http://www.conf.purdue.edu/modvis/

Friday, May 17

Improving the precision of timing-critical research with visual displays

Friday, May 17, 9:30 – 11:30 am, Jasmine/Palm

Organizers: Sophie Kenny, VPixx Technologies; Peter April, VPixx Technologies

VPixx Technologies is a privately held company serving the vision research community by developing innovative hardware and software tools for vision scientists (www.vpixx.com).

Visual display and computer technologies have improved on many fronts over the years; however, impressive technical specifications of devices mask the fact that timing of concurrent events is not typically controlled with a high degree of precision. This is a problem for scientists whose research relies on synchronization of external recording equipment relative to the onset of a visual stimulus. During this workshop, we will demonstrate the use of hardware solutions to improve upon these issues. We will first describe the principle behind these hardware solutions. We will then showcase how experiments can be programmed to control the triggering of external devices, to play audio signals, and to record digital, analog and audio signals, all synchronized with microsecond accuracy to screen refresh.

To help us plan this event, please send an email signalling your interest to:

Psychophysics Toolbox Forum

Friday, May 17, 10:00 – 11:30 am, Royal Tern

Organizer: Vijay Iyer, MathWorks

Forum for researchers, vendors, and others who work with the Psychophysics Toolbox (PTB) widely used for visual stimulus generation in vision science. A consortium led by industry is emerging to support the continued development. Join to learn more about the new directions and to provide your input on future directions for PTB.

Saturday, May 18

Large-scale datasets in visual neuroscience

Saturday, May 18, 8:30 – 10:30 pm, Jasmine/Palm

Organizers: Elissa Aminoff, Fordham University; John Pyles, Carnegie Mellon University

Speakers: Elissa Aminoff, Fordham University; Kendrick Kay, University of Minnesota; John Pyles, Carnegie Mellon University; Michael Tarr, Carnegie Mellon University

The future of vision science lends itself more and more to using large real-world image datasets (n > 1,000) to study and understand the neural and functional mechanisms underlying vision. As the size of such datasets (and the resulting data) increases, there are commensurate challenges to effectively and successfully collect, distribute, and analyze large-scale data. If you are interested in discussing these challenges, please join us.

The format of this event will be brief presentations by researchers who have recently collected or analyzed large fMRI datasets, followed by an open discussion.

Sunday, May 19

FoVea (Females of Vision et al) Workshop

Sunday, May 19, 7:30 – 9:00 pm, Horizons

Organizers: Diane Beck, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Mary A. Peterson, University of Arizona; Karen Schloss, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Allison Sekuler, Baycrest Health Sciences

Panel Discussion on Navigating a Life in Science as a Woman
Panel Discussants: Lynne Kiorpes (New York University), Ruth Rosenholtz (MIT), Preeti Verghese (Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute), Emily Ward (University of Wisconsin – Madison)

The panel will begin by addressing issues they consider important/informative and then address questions.

FoVea is a group founded to advance the visibility, impact, and success of women in vision science (www.foveavision.org). We encourage vision scientists of all genders to participate in the workshops.

Please register at: http://www.foveavision.org/vss-workshops

Monday, May 20

Aesthetics Social

Monday, May 20, 2:00 – 3:30 pm, Citrus/Glades

Organizers: Edward Vessel, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics; Karen Schloss, University Wisconsin-Madison; Aenne Brielmann (New York University); Ilkay Isik (MPIEA); Dominik Welke (MPIEA)

Our lives are full of aesthetic experiences. When we look at art, people surrounding us, or views out of the window, we cannot help but assess how much the sight pleases us. This social meeting brings together researchers interested in understanding such aesthetic responses. We will highlight aesthetics research being presented at VSS in a “Data Blitz” session, followed by an open discussion and time to socialize. Light refreshments will be offered.

Data Blitz presentations are open to anyone presenting aesthetics-related work at VSS. Selection for presentation will be made by the organizing committee based on scientific rigor, potential impact and interest, academic position (preference given to students/early stage researchers), and whether your work was selected for a talk or poster at VSS (priority given to posters).

If you are interested in presenting your findings at the Data Blitz session please send an email to (ATTN: Aesthetics Social Data Blitz) by April 5, 2019 with the following information:

  • Presenter name, affiliation, and academic status (student/postdoc/PI/etc.)
  • Presenter contact information (email, phone)
  • Presentation title and abstract
  • Date/time and type of VSS presentation (poster/talk)

This event is sponsored by the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA; https://www.science-of-aesthetics.org)

A hands-on crash course in reproducible mixed-effects modeling

Monday, May 20, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Royal Tern

Organizer: Dejan Draschkow, Department of Psychology, Goethe University Frankfurt; Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford

Mixed-effects models are a powerful alternative to traditional F1/F2-mixed model/repeated-measure ANOVAs and multiple regressions. Mixed models allow simultaneous estimation of between-subject and between-stimulus variance, deal well with missing data, allow for easy inclusion of covariates and modelling of higher order polynomials. This workshop provides a focused, hands-on and state of the art treatment of applying this analysis technique in an open and reproducible way. We will provide a fully documented R pipeline, solutions for power analysis and will discuss common pitfalls and unresolved issues. It is suitable for 1) “concept attendance” – you want to be able to evaluate potential issues when reviewing a paper; 2) “implementation attendance” – strong theoretical background, low practical experience; 3) “switch attendance” – you are coming from another language or software and want to switch to R; 4) “transition attendance” – you are quite experienced in traditional analysis procedures and want to see what this is all about and 5) “refreshing attendance” – you just want to check if there are any new developments. It might not be suitable for participants with zero experience in statistics and programming and too boring for participants who perform simulation-based power analysis for mixed models or use a PCA to diagnose overfitting problems.
This event is funded by a WikiMedia Open Science grant dedicated to https://smobsc.readthedocs.io/en/latest/.

WorldViz VR/AR Workshop: Virtual Reality Displays Break New Ground for Research Purposes

Monday, May 20, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Jasmine/Palm

Organizers: Matthias Pusch, WorldViz; Lucero Rabaudi, WorldViz

Beyond the wave of consumer virtual reality displays is a new lineup of professional products that are capable of generating a new class of visual stimulus that can be used by scientists. We will show two examples of what we consider most exciting for the VSS community. The first is a multi-resolution HMD that is capable of nearly 60 cycles-per-degree over a large center field of the display which then feathers to more typical HMD resolution toward the periphery. The second is a low-latency high-resolution video-see-thru technology that converts a consumer class HMD into a sophisticated augmented reality system that can be used to combine real near field objects (e.g., one’s hands or tools) with computer graphics imagery.

In this Satellite session, we will present these technologies in action with examples of how researchers can use them in practice. There will be a technical portion of the session detailing the technologies benefits and limitations, as well as a hands-on portion for attendees to try the technologies live.

VISxVISION Workshop: Novel Vision Science Research Directions in Visualization

Monday, May 20, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Sabal/Sawgrass

Organizers: Cindy Xiong, Northwestern University; Zoya Bylinskii, Adobe Research; Madison Elliott, University of British Columbia; Christie Nothelfer, Nielsen; Danielle Szafir, University of Colorado Boulder

Interdisciplinary work across vision science and data visualization has provided a new lens to advance our understanding of the capabilities and mechanisms of the visual system while simultaneously improving the ways we visualize data. Vision scientists can gain important insights about human perception by studying how people interact with visualized data. Vision science topics, including visual search, ensemble coding, multiple object tracking, color and shape perception, pattern recognition, and saliency, map directly to challenges encountered in visualization research.

VISxVISION (www.visxvision.com) is an initiative to encourage communication and collaboration between researchers from the vision science and the data visualization research communities. Building on the growing interest on this topic and the discussions inspired by our symposium last year “Vision and Visualization: Inspiring novel research directions in vision science,” this workshop aims to provide a platform to bring together vision science and visualization researchers to share cutting-edge research at this interdisciplinary intersection. We also encourage researchers to share vision science projects that have the potential to be applied to topics in data visualization.

This year’s workshop will consist of a series of lightning talks, followed by a Q&A session with the presenters. Editors from the Journal of Vision’s upcoming special visualization edition will also briefly talk about publication opportunities in this field. The workshop will conclude with a “meet & mingle” session with refreshments, intended to encourage more informal discussion among participants and to inspire interdisciplinary collaboration.

This event is being sponsored by Adobe Inc., the Visual Thinking Lab at Northwestern, and Colorado Boulder’s VisuaLab.

A call to abstracts on https://visxvision.com will solicit recent, relevant research at the intersection of vision science and visualization, or vision science project proposals that have the potential to be applied to topics in data visualization (deadline: April 1). The top submissions will be selected for presentation as lightning talks at the workshop (notification: April 15).

Please register at: http://bit.ly/2019visxvision.

Tuesday, May 21

Canadian Vision Social

Tuesday, May 21, 12:30 – 2:30 pm, Jasmine/Palm

Organizer: Doug Crawford, York Centre for Vision Research

This lunch Social is open to any VSS member who is, knows, or would like to meet a Canadian Vision Scientist! This event will feature free food and refreshments, with a complementary beverage for the first 100 attendees. We particularly encourage trainees and scientists who would like to learn about the various opportunities available through York’s Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program. This event is sponsored by the York Centre for Vision Research and VISTA, which is funded in part by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF)

Visibility: A Gathering of LGBTQ+ Vision Scientists and friends

Tuesday, May 21, 8:30 – 10:00 pm (precedes Club Vision), Jasmine/Palm

Organizers: Alex White, University of Washington; Michael Grubb, Trinity College

LGBTQ students are disproportionately likely to drop out of science early. Potential causes include the lack of visible role models and the absence of a strong community. This social event is one small step towards filling that gap. All are welcome. Snacks, drinks, and camaraderie will be provided. Sponsored by Trinity College.

Wednesday, May 22

MacGyver-ing in vision science: interfacing systems that are not supposed to work together

Wednesday, May 22, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, Chart
Organizer: Zoltan Derzsi, New York University Abu Dhabi

In research, it is sometimes necessary to push equipment beyond its design limits or to use it for something it was not designed to do. Desperation leads to creativity, and temporary workarounds end up being permanent. Usually this is the point when a design bottleneck is introduced into the experiment, which will bite back a couple of months later when nobody anticipates it, effectively ruining all the data collected (my own experience!).

This workshop will show some good practices on how to interface various systems, and how to use ordinary electronics in a vision science experiment.

You will get a free IoT (Internet of Things) kit containing a development board, some sensors, a display and light sources.

Please let me know if you plan to attend, by emailing zd8[at]nyu[dot]edu no later than the 10th of April!

The kit will contain a nodeMCU device, please make sure you pick it up on the first days of the conference. I will not be able to start from scratch on how to do programming and how to upload a firmware to the board, this will be included in the documentation and there is plenty of support online. I’d like to spend time showing how to make these bits into the cheapest calibrated D65 light source, how to automate data collection over the local network, how to build your own instruments, or simultaneously control various systems, while delivering stimuli with microsecond precision.

You will be able to adapt the workshop material for your own environment, and develop it further.

Online Program and Meeting Planner Now Available

We are pleased to announce that the Online Program and Meeting Planner for VSS 2019 is now available. With this valuable tool, you can access the meeting program, glance at a visual overview of each day, click on an index of presenters, and view a list of registered attendees. You can also login and create your own custom itinerary, as well as make notes about programs that address your special areas of interest.

The Online Program and Meeting Planner is accessible at http://mobile.visionsciences1.org. It is compatible with your tablet or smartphone.

Also, check out the Schedule Overview on the VSS website for a comprehensive outline of the program with links to in-depth descriptions of each session.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at VSS 2019!

FABBS Updates

In 2018, VSS became a member of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS).

FABBS is a coalition of scientific societies that share an interest in developing knowledge for the betterment of society by advancing the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior. FABBS represents the interests of its scientific societies by

  • Educating federal representatives and Congress about the importance of research in the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior
  • Advocating for legislation and policy that enhance training and research
  • Providing sources of expertise and knowledge to federal agencies, Congress, and the media
  • Encouraging the sound use of science in the creation of public policy
  • Fostering effective interaction between agencies and organizations that fund research and the community of scientists and scientific societies
  • Facilitating information exchange among constituent societies as well as other scientific organizations

For more information about FAABS, including important news and events, please visit the FABBS page on the VSS website.

Announcing the VSS 2019 Symposia

We are pleased to announce this year’s Member-Initiated Symposia which will be held on Friday, May 17, beginning at 12:00 pm.

Reading as a visual act: Recognition of visual letter symbols in the mind and brain
Organizer: Teresa Schubert, Harvard University
Time/Room: Friday, May 17, 2019, 12:00 – 2:00 pm, Talk Room 1

Rhythms of the brain, rhythms of perception
Organizers: Laura Dugué, Paris Descartes University & Suliann Ben Hamed, Université Claude Bernard Lyon I
Time/Room: Friday, May 17, 2019, 12:00 – 2:00 pm, Talk Room 2

What can be inferred about neural population codes from psychophysical and neuroimaging data?
Organizer: Fabian Soto, Department of Psychology, Florida International University
Time/Room: Friday, May 17, 2019, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Talk Room 1

Visual Search: From youth to old age, from the lab to the world
Organizer: Beatriz Gil-Gómez de Liaño, Brigham & Women’s Hospital-Harvard Medical School and Cambridge University
Time/Room: Friday, May 17, 2019, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Talk Room 2

What Deafness Tells Us about the Nature of Vision
Organizer: Rain Bosworth, Ph.D., Department of Psychology,
University of California, San Diego
Time/Room: Friday, May 17, 2019, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Talk Room 1

Prefrontal cortex in visual perception and recognition
Organizer: Biyu Jade He, NYU Langone Medical Center
Time/Room: Friday, May 17, 2019, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Talk Room 2

New! NEI Postdoctoral Travel Grant

With funding from the National Eye Institute, VSS is pleased to announce the availability of a limited number of travel grants for postdoctoral researchers to attend the 2019 meeting. The grants are intended to cover most or all of the travel, lodging and registration costs. Grant recipients will be recognized at the VSS awards ceremony. The deadline to submit an application is March 22, 2019.


The grants are available only to US citizens and permanent residents. To address historical disparities in our membership and the field, applications from females, under-represented minorities and individuals with disabilities are especially encouraged. Applicants need not be a co-author on an abstract at the 2019 meeting, but for all applicants, approval by their postdoctoral advisor must be confirmed.

Grant Selection

Applications will be reviewed by a subcommittee of the VSS Board of Directors. Grant recipients will be contacted by Friday, April 5, 2019.


First Day to Apply: February 19, 2019
Last Day to Apply: March 22, 2019
Recipients Notified: April 5, 2019

Submit an Application

New! NEI Early Career Scientist Travel Grant

With funding from the National Eye Institute, VSS is pleased to announce the availability of a limited number of travel grants for early career tenure or non-tenure track research faculty to attend the 2019 meeting. The grants are intended to cover most or all of the travel, lodging and registration costs. Grant recipients will be recognized at the VSS awards ceremony. The application deadline is March 22, 2019.


The grants are available only to US citizens and permanent residents. To address historical disparities in our membership and the field, applications from females, under-represented minorities and individuals with disabilities are especially encouraged. Applicants need not be a co-author on an abstract at the 2019 meeting. Applicants may have no more than 10 years of active research experience since earning their terminal degree, allowing for the exclusion of times that typically “stop the clock” in academic tenure track positions. For the upcoming 2019 grant, if there was no break in active research/teaching, the degree must have been awarded in or after 2009.

Grant Selection

Applications will be reviewed by a subcommittee of the VSS Board of Directors. Grant recipients will be contacted by Friday, April 5, 2019.


First Day to Apply: February 19, 2019
Last Day to Apply: March 22, 2019
Recipients Notified: April 5, 2019

Submit an Application

Announcing the 2019 Public Lecture

This year’s Public Lecture will be delivered by Peter Thompson, a faculty member at the University of York, UK. The Lecture will be held at the St. Petersburg Main Library, on Sunday, May 19, 2019.

Peter’s talk, Visual Illusion in the Real World is free to the public. Although the lecture is intended for the public, VSS attendees are invited to attend.

Click here for more information about the VSS Public Lecture and how to get there.

Announcing Concetta Morrone as the Recipient of the 2019 Nakayama Medal

Congratulations to Concetta Morrone, the fourth recipient of the Ken Nakayama Medal for Excellence in Vision Science. The Nakayama Medal was created to honor Professor Ken Nakayama’s contribution to the Vision Sciences Society, as well as his innovations and excellence to the domain of vision sciences. The winner of the Ken Nakayama Medal receives this honor for high-impact work that has made a lasting contribution in vision science in the broadest sense.

Dr. Morrone is a Professor of Physiology in the Department of Translational Research on New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Pisa. In 2014, Concetta was elected a member of the Accademia dei Lincei and was awarded an ERC-IDEA advanced grant, a distinction of excellence in Europe.

For more information about Concetta Morrone and an overview of her career, please visit the Ken Nakayama Award page.

Concetta will be presented with the Ken Nakayama Medal and deliver a talk at the 2019 VSS Awards Session on Monday, May 20, at 12:30 pm.