Melissa Le-Hoa Võ, Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Head of the DFG-funded Emmy Noether Group, Scene Grammar Lab, Goethe Universität Frankfurt, is the winner of the 2018 Elsevier/VSS Young Investigator Award.
Dr. Võ received her PhD from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich in 2009. She then moved on to perform postdoctoral work, first with John Henderson at the University of Edinburgh, and then with Jeremy Wolfe at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Võ’s work has been supported by numerous grants and fellowships, including grants from the NIH and the German Research Council. In 2014, Melissa Võ moved back to Germany where as freshly appointed Full Professor for Cognitive Psychology she set up the Scene Grammar Lab at the Goethe University Frankfurt.
Dr. Võ is a superb scientist who has already had an extraordinary impact on our field. Her distinctive contribution has been to develop the concept of “scene grammar,” particularly scrutinizing the distinction between semantics and syntax in visual scenes. The distinction can be illustrated by considering scene components that are semantically incongruent (e.g. a printer in a kitchen) versus those that are syntactically incongruent (e.g. a cooking pot in a kitchen, floating in space rather than resting on a counter). Dr. Võ has used eye-tracking and EEG techniques in both children and adults to demonstrate that the brain processes semantic and syntactic visual information differentially, and has shown that scene grammar not only aids visual processing but also plays a key role in efficiently guiding search in real-world scenarios. Her work has implications in many areas, ranging from computer science to psychiatry. In addition to being a tremendously innovative and productive researcher, Dr. Võ is an active mentor of younger scientists and an award-winning teacher. Her outstanding contributions make her a highly worthy recipient of the 12th VSS Young Investigator Award.
Dr. Võ will speak at the VSS Awards Session on Monday, May 21 at 12:30 pm in Talk Room 1-2. To learn more about Melissa Võ’s talk, please visit the VSS website.