2020-2021 Student-Postdoc Advisory Committee

The Vision Sciences Society announces the 2020-2021 inaugural members of The Student-Postdoc Advisory Committee (SPC)!

The Student-Postdoc Advisory Committee will advise the VSS Board and membership about how events, workshops, meeting structure, and activities can best target the needs of trainee members and attendees. They will be reaching out to trainees to solicit opinions and ideas, as well as organizing special events.

Each year VSS will solicit nominations for new members of the Student-Postdoc Advisory Committee to replace three members who will be rolling off the Committee.

Stacey Aston

Durham University

Stacey Aston is a postdoctoral researcher in Durham University’s Psychology Department. In her research, she studies visual and multi-sensory information integration for human perception and decision making. Stacey joined SPC to have a positive impact on the VSS experience for student and postdoc members. She is sure that the newly formed SPC committee will be a valuable asset to the VSS team as they work to enrich the VSS program with many more development and networking opportunities.

Kathryn Bonnen (Chair)

New York University

Kathryn (Kate) Bonnen is a Simons Society postdoctoral fellow at New York University (NYU). She earned her bachelor’s degrees in computer science and psychology at Michigan State University and received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to NYU, she was an ARVO/VSS scholar and visiting researcher in the Optometry School at the University California Berkeley. Her research focuses on motion perception, behavioral modelling, binocular processing, and sensorimotor control.

Matthew Boring (Record Keeper)

University of Pittsburgh

Matthew Boring is a fourth year PhD student from the University of Pittsburgh. He studies in Dr. Avniel Ghuman’s Laboratory of Cognitive Neurodynamics to understand how visual representations of objects evolve in the ventral stream and how these representations influence visual attention. Within the Student Postdoc Advisory Committee, Matthew is excited to improve VSS for trainees by establishing channels of communication between students, postdocs, and VSS organizing committees. By better understanding the desires and concerns of trainee members, it will be easier to develop programs that improve the value of VSS to them.

Cristina Ceja

Northwestern University

Cristina Ceja is a graduate student at Northwestern University pursuing a PhD in Psychology. She is interested in exploring the limits of our visual system in perceiving, processing, and updating visual representations. Currently, she studies how the visual system binds features to objects, and the role of visual attention in this binding process. As a member of the Student-Postdoc Advisory Committee (SPC), she looks forward to building on her existing outreach efforts and committee work dedicated to engaging and advocating for trainees.

Björn Jörges

York University

Björn finished his PhD at University of Barcelona and is currently doing a PostDoc at York University, Toronto, in a project funded by the Canadian Space Agency. His research is focused on the role of vestibular cues for visual perception and how we perceive moving objects while we ourselves are moving through the environment. He is furthermore convinced that open and diverse science is better science.

J. Brendan Ritchie (VSS Liaison)

National Institute of Mental Health

J. Brendan Ritchie, Ph.D, is a post-doctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition at the National Institute of Mental Health (USA), where he is conducting research on the neural basis of visual categorization and category learning. Previously he was a post-doctoral fellow at KU Leuven (Belgium), a research associate at Macquarie University (Australia), and a graduate student at the University of Maryland (USA), where he obtained his doctoral degree. Brendan is excited to be a part of SPC, and wants to help make VSS more responsive to the interests of early career researchers in vision science.

2020 Young Investigator Award – Timothy Brady

The Vision Sciences Society is honored to present Timothy Brady with the 2020 Young Investigator Award.

The Young Investigator Award is an award given to an early stage researcher who has already made a significant contribution to our field. The award is sponsored by Elsevier, and the awardee is invited to submit a review paper to Vision Research highlighting this contribution.

Timothy Brady

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
University of California, San Diego

The 2020 Elsevier/VSS Young Investigator Award goes to Professor Timothy Brady for his fundamental contributions to the scientific study of visual memory. Tim Brady is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology, UCSD. After completing his undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science at Yale University, Prof Brady did his PhD with Aude Oliva at MIT and then post-doctoral research with George Alvarez at Harvard University.

Prof Brady uses a combination of behavioral methods, cognitive neuroscience techniques and computational modelling to probe representations in the visual system and the processes by which visual information is encoded in working memory and integrated into long-term
storage. He has made numerous surprising discoveries about the extreme fidelity and detail of visual long-term memories for objects and scenes, and has demonstrated how statistical learning and ensemble encoding of features facilitates the maintenance and storage of complex stimuli like natural scenes. Prof Brady’s work has helped broaden the study of working memory to include richer, more naturalistic stimuli, and repeatedly challenged long-standing assumptions about the nature of visual representations. In a series of highly-cited studies he has shown how remembered objects are stored as groups of distinct parts that can be independently forgotten, and that when multiple items must be remembered, the brain computes summary statistics across the group. Prof Brady is not only a gifted and productive experimentalist—he has also made substantial contributions to the theoretical understanding of visual memory representations through computational modelling, as well as providing numerous useful tools for the community.

The nature of visual memory

Professor Brady will speak during the Awards session,
Saturday, May 22, 2021, 4:30 – 5:30 pm EDT.

In the real world, objects are discrete physical entities – your coffee mug either is or is not in your hand. As a result, both in everyday life and in memory research, there is a tendency to use a physical metaphor to understand memory: people tend to think of an object they are trying to remember as either in mind or not in their mind, and to say that we hold items in mind, as we hold real objects in our hand. This metaphor serves as a core mental model used in most conceptions of memory: all-or-none, discrete, and functioning at the level of entire objects or other discrete representations or chunks. In this brief talk, I’ll argue for a new way of thinking about memory that strongly contrasts with this common and intuitive view. I’ll show that individuated items are far from the only kind of representation people form, and that it is necessary to consider interactions among an entire hierarchy of representations (from semantic knowledge to ensemble information, chunks and items) to understand memory even for a single item. Next, I’ll show that memory representations, even for single items, are population-based and continuous in strength. Altogether, I’ll argue that even for those interested in cognition, analogies from neuroscience — with population codes, hierarchical representations and noisy signals — best allow us to understand memory limits, rather than physical analogies about discrete items.

2020 Davida Teller Award – Marlene Behrmann

The Vision Sciences Society is honored to present Dr. Marlene Behrmann with the 2020 Davida Teller Award

VSS established the Davida Teller Award in 2013. Davida was an exceptional scientist, mentor and colleague, who for many years led the field of visual development. The award is therefore given to an outstanding female vision scientist in recognition of her exceptional, lasting contributions to the field of vision science.

Marlene Behrmann

University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Carnegie Mellon University
Marlene Behrmann received her B.A. in Speech and Hearing Therapy in 1981, followed by her M.A. in Speech Pathology in 1984, both from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She then obtained a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Toronto in 1991. She was a Research Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto before moving to Carnegie Mellon University in 1993, where she is currently a University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. Dr. Behrmann was elected a member of the Society for Experimental Psychologists in 2008, inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2015, and into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019. Her prior recognitions include the Presidential Early Career in Science and Engineering and the Fred Kavli Distinguished Career Contributions in Cognitive Neurosciences Award.

Dr. Behrmann is a trailblazer and a world leader in the field of visual cognition. Her work represents the best of cognitive neuroscience, seamlessly blending insights gained from neuropsychology, modeling, cutting-edge functional and structural brain imaging, and behavioral experiments. She has made major contributions across a wide range of topics, including attention, the neural basis of autism, specialization between hemispheres in the brain, face recognition and disorders of face recognition, visual object recognition, word recognition, and visual imagery. Dr. Behrman’s work is characterized by her remarkable ability to examine an issue rigorously from many vantage points, and from there to develop, test, and refine theories of how a given behavior arises from the underlying brain function. In addition, she has an exceptional record of mentorship throughout her career in promoting and supporting students at all stages. Dr. Behrmann embodies the characteristics that we so admired in Davida Teller, and it is with pride that the Society recognizes her accomplishments through the Davida Teller Award.

Hemispheric organization and pattern recognition

Dr. Behrmann will speak during the Awards session,
Saturday, May 22, 2021, 4:30 – 5:30 pm EDT.

Despite the overall similarity in structure, the two hemispheres of the human brain have somewhat different functions. A traditional view of hemispheric organization asserts that there are independent and largely lateralized domain-specific visual regions in ventral occipitotemporal, specialized, if not dedicated, and perhaps innate, for the recognition of distinct classes of objects such as words and faces. In this talk, I will offer an alternative account of the organization of the hemispheres. I will present an account of interactive and graded organization of both within- and between-hemisphere organization. The crux of the account is that mature hemispheric organization emerges from a competitive and collaborative dynamic in which in right-handers, during the acquisition of literacy, word recognition comes to be co-localized with language lateralization in the left hemisphere. Consequently, face recognition is shifted, albeit not entirely, to the right hemisphere. Behavioral and imaging data from adults and over development will provide evidence to support this hypothesis of graded asymmetry.
Last, I will show that this pattern of organization is malleable and that, in children who have had a unilateral posterior cortical resection, the preserved hemisphere can subserve both word and face recognition. Together, these findings support a dynamic interactive process by which hemispheric organization emerges and unfolds with experience.

2020 Ken Nakayama Medal for Excellence in Vision Science – Edward Adelson

The Vision Sciences Society is honored to present Edward Adelson with the 2020 Ken Nakayama Medal for Excellence in Vision Science.

The Ken Nakayama Medal is in honor of Professor Ken Nakayama’s contributions to the Vision Sciences Society, as well as his innovations and excellence to the domain of vision sciences.

The recipient 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. The nature of this work can be fundamental, clinical or applied.

Edward ‘Ted’ Adelson

John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Vision Science, MIT

Edward ‘Ted’ Adelson received his B.A. in Physics & Philosophy in 1974 from Yale University, followed by a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Michigan (1979). After a postdoctoral position at NYU he became a research scientist at RCA labs. Ted then joined the faculty at MIT in 1987, first in the Media Lab, before moving to the department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences in 1994. Currently, Ted is the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Vision Science at MIT, in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Ted has received many prior awards and is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Over his career Ted has made fundamental and wide-ranging contributions to the scientific study of vision and perception. His work is the stuff of textbooks and perception courses, and the illusions he has discovered have inspired and beguiled researchers and the general public alike. Indeed, Ted is able to bring visual phenomena to a highly purified state, so that his demonstrations will remain standard references for generations to come. More generally, Ted’s work bridges across the full range of vision science, and includes seminal contributions to theory, psychophysics, computational modelling, and neurophysiology. From low-level mechanisms of retinal adaptation, to the motion energy model, texture processing, lightness perception, pyramid decompositions, the plenoptic function, ‘things’ vs ‘stuff’ and material perception, practically everything Ted has done has opened new avenues of investigation and understanding in ways that have helped define the field. He is also known as an amazing supervisor, and many of his trainees have themselves gone on to make fundamental contributions to our understanding of vision. Ted Adelson easily meets, several times over, the Nakayama Award’s criterion of having made exceptional, lasting contributions to vision science.

Dr. Adelson will speak during the Awards session,
Saturday, May 22, 2021, 4:30 – 5:30 pm EDT.

Student-Postdoc Advisory Board Nominations

The Vision Sciences Society is pleased to announce the formation of a new Student-Postdoc Advisory Board. The Society is now soliciting nominations.

VSS is creating this board because of the importance of the activities of VSS to its trainee members, including areas such as networking, transitions to careers, opportunities to present research before an international audience, and opportunities to learn about current and emerging areas of research, as well as the important contributions made by trainees to the conference and to the society. VSS seeks to ensure that its activities and policies continue to meet the evolving needs of this key population.

The Student-Postdoc Advisory Board will share ideas and proposals about how VSS events, workshops, meeting structure and activities can best target the needs of trainee members and attendees. SPA Board members may also have opportunities to increase the role of students and postdocs in designing and running appropriate events or workshops. VSS envisions the creation of a SPA Board as a means to better address the needs of the large group of students and postdoc VSS members. Serving on the SPA Board, as well as participating or leading any resulting activities, also may serve as a source of useful professional experience for the engaged trainees.

Nomination Procedure

Those interested in becoming members of the Student-Postdoc Advisory Board should send the following information in a single PDF file:

  1. One-page statement summarizing the reasons for interest in serving on the SPA Board, as well as any relevant prior experience or qualifications;
  2. List of previous VSS conferences attended;
  3. Statement of intention to attend the VSS conference in 2020 and 2021 as a student/postdoc VSS member, as well as a statement that the nominee expects to retain status as either a student or postdoc for the 12 months following the 2020 conference;
  4. Names and contact information of two individuals who could provide letters of support for the nomination; and
  5. Current CV, including current affiliation and contact information.

Membership is for a period of one year, beginning on the first day of the Annual Meeting, with the opportunity for appointment to a second year.

Please send nomination materials to by March 12, 2020.


Nominations Open: February 13, 2020
Nominations Close: March 12, 2020
Board Announced: April 15, 2020

Vision Sciences Society