Friday, October 10, 2014

PBS to Recognize Five Outstanding Alumni at Annual Banquet, Oct 17

On Friday, October 17 PBS will hold its second annual Alumni Recognition event, a day of symposia and celebrations to honor the IU psychological and brain sciences community. The annual daylong event includes talks by PBS alumni and faculty at the cutting edge of their fields. It also includes undergraduate career and professional development round table discussions for PBS majors interested in business, social work, and law, as well as the mental health professions and graduate research. The day culminates in a banquet to honor five outstanding alumni with a series of awards.

(For a list of the day's events, see schedule below.)

Amy Marshall (PhD ’04) and Brian Mustanski (PhD ’04) will each receive a Young Alumni Award

Marshall is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University whose research interests include intimate relationships, family violence, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mustanski is an associate professor in Medical Social Sciences, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Psychology at Northwestern University.  He is director of the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program, which seeks to conduct translational research that improves the health of the LGBT community and increases understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Receiving Distinguished Alumni Awards are David T. Pfenninger (BA ’83) and Wilson (Bill) Geisler (PhD ’75)

Pfenninger’s career spans academia, clinical psychology, business, and technology. Formerly an assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a clinician and administrator at the Roudebush Veteran Administration Medical Center in Indianapolis, he became the founder and key entrepreneur of several successful companies. Currently, he is an executive consultant, investor, and board member to companies at the interface of internet technology, human behavior, and cognition.

Geisler joined the psychology faculty at the University of Texas in 1975, where he is currently the David Wechsler Regents Chair and director of the Center for Perceptual Systems. Bill’s primary research interests are in perception and perceptual neuroscience, with an emphasis on vision in humans and monkeys. 

John Monahan (PhD ’72) will receive the Richard C. Atkinson Lifetime Achievement Award

Monahan, an expert in law and psychiatry, is a leading thinker on the issue of violence risk assessment. He currently holds the John S. Shannon Distinguished Professorship in Law at the University of Virginia. Last year he attended the department’s 125th Anniversary Celebration to deliver a lecture, “Danger and Disorder,” in which he challenged the links made between violence and mental illness in American media and culture. The award is named in honor of its first alumni recipient, president emeritus of the University of California and a distinguished scientist, administrator, and teacher.


Schedule of Events
  • 12 PM: Luncheon, Lobby of Multidisciplinary Science Building II, (behind the Psychology Building, 702 North Walnut Grove Avenue)
  • 1PM: PBS @ IU: #GameChangers (presentations from alumni), Room 100, Psychology Building
  • Teresa Treat, University of Iowa, “Enhancing the Accuracy of Men’s Perception of Women’s Sexual Interest”   
  • Joshua Gulley, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “Amphetamines during Adolescence: #BrainChangers”   
  • Scott Gronlund, University of Oklahoma, “Conducting an Eyewitness Lineup: How Did We Get It Wrong?”
2PM: Break
  • 2:15PM: PBS@IU: #TheCuttingEdge, Faculty Symposium, Psychology Building, Room 100
    • Brian D’Onofrio, Indiana University, “The Importance of Translational Epidemiology for Clinical Science”
    • Karin James, Indiana University, “How Visual-Motor Experience Changes  Symbol Learning During Development:  An Educational Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective”   
    • Josh Brown, Indiana University, “Computational Psychiatry: Where Higher Cognitive Function Intersects with Computational Neuroscience, Neuroimaging, and Clinical Science”
  • 3:30PM: Graduate Research Symposium & Poster Session. Lobby of Multidisciplinary Science Building

  • 6:00PM: Cocktail Reception, Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall

  • 7PM: Alumni Awards Dinner, Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall




    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    PBS network scientist leads effort to launch the first center for network science in Russia

    IU network researcher Stanley Wasserman in collaboration with faculty from the National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE) in Russia received a $1.5 million grant to set up an International Laboratory for Applied Network Research at the Russian university.

    The grant, which was awarded by the HSE, provides funding from 2014 to 2016, at which point, Wasserman believes, the lab, given its strengths, will continue to gain support, with either  additional funding from the university or  external grants.  Quite a few network science institutes now operate at universities in the US. This is the first one in Russia.

    Wasserman, who holds a joint appointment in the departments of Statistics and Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as the academic supervisor for the lab—consulting, teaching, and collaborating with faculty and students at the school and ensuring the lab’s connectedness with the broader world of network science. He has also been named a Research Professor at HSE.

    As a leading methodologist in the field of network analysis, Wasserman designs studies and analyzes data for researchers around the world in such varied areas as management, community psychology, and public health. He is also the coordinating editor of Network Science, a major new journal in the field published by Cambridge University Press. His book "Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications" is a classic in the field, still in print after almost 20 years, and widely used in university courses. His work has also contributed to putting Indiana University on the leading edge of advancements in the field itself. He was one of the first network scientists at IU, and through conference grants, collaborations, and teaching, he continues to be an important network research presence on campus.

    Wasserman’s relationship with the Higher School of Economics in Russia began two years ago when he taught a standing-room only introductory seminar on network analysis at the school. At that point, says Valentina Kuskova, director of the new lab, he and others recognized the enormous demand in Russia for knowledge of the discipline and set out to develop the current laboratory.

    Wasserman’s participation has been key to the project’s visibility and success, Kuskova explains. “This lab would simply not have been possible without him. Wasserman,” she states, “is a visionary. As a scientific supervisor, he goes beyond providing ideas, inspiration, and encouragement. The results speak for themselves. We are well on our way to establishing and popularizing the field of network research in Russia.”

    The new International Laboratory, one of twenty at the school, is itself a network made up of four hubs, each on different HSE campuses—two in Moscow, one in St. Petersburg, and one in Perm. United by common methodologies, tools, and techniques, the research applications span multiple disciplines and areas: political science, education, psychology, management, international business, sociology, and economics. The lab has already taught two week-long workshops in network analysis (one in Moscow in June and a second in St Petersburg in August) and has a number of joint projects well underway.

    The lab also has several partnerships and joint research projects with other centers for network analysis in the United States. An international conference, organized by the lab, with invited workshops, is planned for November 2014.

    Among some of the current research are studies of student academic achievement as a function of social networks, studies on the relationships between companies and their subsidiaries, studies of public health, and studies of current and historical political and social movements in Russia and the U.S.

    Wasserman notes that changes in Russia and the Russian economy over the last 20 years have sparked new interests. “Until recently there was no need for a faculty of management in Russia. Now there are big companies and a need for savvy managers. One of my colleagues studies the energy industry, for example. Russia supplies most of Europe with oil and natural gas. She looks at how energy companies interact with each other and their subsidiaries.”

    Over the last twenty years network analysis has become widespread across Europe. The first European conference on network research was in Barcelona in July 2014. In the 21st century, globalization and the recognition of interconnectedness, along with the emergence of the Internet and social media, make network methods an increasingly fitting way to examine many aspects of the social world.

    The network under investigation might be social, economic or mathematical. It could examine the spread of ideas, products, diseases, a cultural fad or new technology. Yet, at the center of network science is the idea that connectivity, systematicity, and dependence between the units or actors of a network are essential to greater understanding of those units and their organization.

    “In order to really study who behaves the way they behave and why, you need relational data,” said Wasserman, “This enables us to see social influence in action.”

    To learn more about the lab and to speak with Wasserman, contact Liz Rosdeitcher at 812-855-4507 or

    Thursday, September 4, 2014

    An InExact Science

    In her new podcast, PBS alumna Lisa Cantrell (PhD 2013) explores basic questions of psychological science—and human experience--through beautifully designed sonic landscapes  

    Art and science often seem worlds apart. But when the two meet up in Lisa Cantrell’s new podcast, An InExact Science, sparks fly between them, igniting visions of a long, happy, well-lived future, mutually beneficial to both.

    Since she graduated from PBS last year and began her new gig as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California, Davis, Lisa Cantrell (PhD 2013) has been dreaming up, plotting out and putting together episodes for her podcast project, “An InExact Science.” The first podcasts will appear online by early November at In January they will begin airing on KDVS in Davis.

    In An InExact Science, Cantrell plumbs the mysteries of every day human experience by offering the perspectives of top researchers in psychological science alongside the stories of “ordinary people” (aka non-scientists).  In this way, she seeks to build “a small bridge,” as she calls it, “between what we sense every day and the empirical evidence of science.”

    “Why do we experience happiness? How do we learn a first language and why is learning a second sometimes hard? Under what circumstances do we feel regret? Why do we remember certain events but not others? Why do we sometimes misremember? Where does religious belief come from?”

    These are the questions that propel a podcast that, she announces in her promotional video, will be “about us, FOR us, and will invite science to pull up a chair, stay a while, have a cup of coffee—heck, stay for dinner! And explain at least a little of why we experience the things we experience.”

    But the conversation is hardly one-sided. Language, memory, music, religion or regret—whatever the topic might be—she will also expose what she calls “the beautiful side, the phenomenological side, of what it feels like to experience a particular thing” so that the topic is “not just objectified in the way that science does to explain things.”

    In putting these views together, she seeks to produce something artfully and beautifully designed. “I love listening to podcasts that are done really well,” she explains, “the way they move information along and shape a topic. The shows that are really good”—she mentions Radiolab, Snap Judgment, and 99% Invisible—“create a space that has layers. You feel like you’re in a certain room or environment just by the sounds that are happening. They have a beautiful organization and structure.”

    But not only is the podcast artfully designed, it is also poised to prompt what she calls a “science-art-what-up!” cycle. Alongside top researchers and a story-telling public, she is enlisting local artists to produce promotional materials. (Go to the website and you will find buttons, posters, t-shirts, coffee mugs.) And she is drawing on the music of local musicians to include in her show. (One of the first episodes includes music of the Bloomington band, Busman’s Holiday.)

    Not surprisingly perhaps, Cantrell herself comfortably occupies the worlds of both art and science. A South Carolina native, she started college at Furman University as a visual arts major, but shifted gears when she realized this path would most likely provide little means of support. Not knowing what to do next, she took time off from college and traveled in Latin America. She worked in an adolescent rehabilitation center in Chile while living and painting in an art collective, and she taught preschool English in Mexico.

    The experience brought home to her the mysteries of language learning, and on her return to college, she took a psychology course that got her “super hooked,” as she puts it, on the topic…

    …Ultimately landing her straight in the lab of one of the foremost researchers on language learning and early development, PBS Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Professor, Linda Smith. The first episode of An InExact Science, in fact, is on language and features an interview with her former advisor. (Listen to a teaser for this episode here.)

    Now she is working in the Infant Cognition Lab of Lisa Oakes, a professor of psychology at UC Davis, and is studying visual attention and memory in infants and the use of eye-tracking methodology. In virtually all of her spare time, she can be found working on the podcast, uniting art and science in what she hopes will be a long-term relationship to a renewable and everlasting “science-art-what-up” cycle.

    Watch the promotional video for the project.  Or listen to a teaser for the first episode.

    A Kickstarter campaign to fund equipment and travel for the podcast will be ongoing until September 12.