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Important Dates

December 10, 5PM: Three Minute Proposal (3MP) Competition

The competition is related to AI and the pandemic. It is open to undergraduates, graduates, and postdocs and includes monetary prizes. For more information click here.
Meet RuCCS's New Director 
Rutgers Announces Professor John McGann as the New Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science (RuCCS) Director 
 
Professor John McGann has been announced the new director of RuCCS. McGann began at Rutgers as an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department studying neural mechanisms of sensory plasticity. From there, McGann was promoted to Associate Professor, then to Professor, and now to RuCCS Director. Alongside RuCCS, he is involved in Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

McGann obtained earlier degrees in psychology and a doctorate in neuroscience from Yale University. His area of expertise is Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience. He was awarded a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship and received the Predoctoral National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health while studying for his PhD. 

McGann has studied neural circuits in the olfactory system—specifically in rodents—to understand sensory stimuli and practice "powerful new experimental techniques." He states, "One major direction of our research is to explore the mechanisms of these changes and their utility to the animal." McGann's research has been supported by grants from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders.

Read the full Letter from the Director here.
Big News for Rutgers
RuCCS Executive Council members awarded $3M NSF National Research Traineeship (NRT) Grant for robotics research
Kristin Dana (RuCCS Executive Council member, ECE Professor) is the PI for the proposal awarded the grant Socially Cognizant Robotics for a Technology Enhanced Society (SOCRATES). The SOCRATES grant proposal was completed by Dana alongside her team of co-PIs, senior personnel, and an external evaluator:
The objective of the grant is to create a new vehicle for graduate training and research that integrates technology domains of robotics, machine learning, and computer vision with social and behavioral sciences including psychology, cognitive science, and urban policy planning.

Read the article on Rutgers Today for more on the story. For more info on the research read the ECE article here. For more info on the NSF grant read here.
CogSci Student Spotlight
Cognitive Science student Hannah Varkey creates podcast series celebrating underrepresented minorities in science, medicine, and STEM

The "Autism Thinks" podcast created by Hannah Varkey is produced by the New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence (NJACE). Episodes discuss connections between neuroscience, technology, and innovation and how they change our perspective on autism, our understanding of our mind, and the world around us. The series covers topics such as autism in minorities, agency, struggles minorities face in academics, the importance of diversity, and more. Interviews include appearances by other Rutgers students including honor students and neuroscience scholars. 
Cognitive Science student Jihye Ryu publishes "The Autonomic Nervous System Differentiates between Levels of Motor Intent and End Effector" and makes cover of The Journal of Precision Medicine 

In the published paper, Ryu describes how heart signals derived from the micro-movements in the inter-beat intervals timing can unambiguously tell us if actions are deliberately intended or spontaneously occurred. Spike in interest on the paper's results has granted for Ryu's work to make the cover of the journal. Read the paper here!
Student groups at Rutgers connecting virtually during the pandemic lockdown

During a time of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, student groups are getting creative in order to connect with others in a remote situation. For many groups and clubs at Rutgers, this has meant relying on social media, virtual events, and e-newsletters to stay busy and keep connecting. 

Read more on how student groups at Rutgers are staying connected through virtual environments in the SAS Access article here.
Looking to get involved in the CogSci Club?

"Feel free to follow us on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (all @rucogsciclub) for our club updates, we are very active! We also have a club Discord group chat and are on Rutgers getINVOLVED to keep in touch directly with members. Check us out there too!”
CogSci Alumni Spotlight
Rutgers Alumna and Scholar Sarah-Jane Leslie talks about the negative impact of "brilliance" in the workplace due to gender bias

Rutgers alumna Sarah-Jane Leslie is the Dean of the Graduate School and a Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. Leslie's research focuses on the gender bias women face in the workplace. She states, "Some fields tend to prize dedication, hard work, and building up your skills. Others tend to focus on whether someone is really smart. Are they brilliant? Do they have 'it'?" In her study, Leslie notes that due to cultural stereotypes, 'brilliance' is often associated with men.

Read more on the impacts of gender bias in the SAS article: "A Scholar Shows How Notions of “Brilliance” Can Work Against Women"
Former Cognitive Science Club President, Cognitive Science and Computer Science Graduate, Yoni Friedman, found a major that stretched the boundaries of the human mind and its use

Yoni Friedman graduated last spring from the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers. Friedman has always been intrigued by consciousness of the mind. He states, "I’d look at pictures of the brain and think: how do you go from this mass of fat and chemicals to the ability of people to have these very different but equally rich experiences of the world?" In describing Friedman, RuCCS' Executive Director Sara Pixley says, "He made Rutgers a more cohesive place for many, including myself."

Read more on Friedman's experience, impact, and work in the SAS article: "He Found a Major that Stretched Boundaries—in the Classroom and in Life"
CogSci Faculty Spotlight
Recent concerns over the Coronavirus pandemic lead to an increase in discrimination in banking, particularly minority-owned small businesses, finds RuCCS Affiliate Professor Jerome Williams

A study conducted by Jerome Williams (RuCCS Affiliate, Distinguished Professor, and Prudential Chair in Business at Rutgers) and peers argues that Black borrowers face disadvantages even before filing for loans. In the study, the same qualifications and statuses were presented for both the White and Black borrowers. Ultimately, it was White borrowers who were more likely to get an additional line of credit with their loans while Black borrowers weren't even offered additional credit.

Read more on the study in the New York Times article here or the NCRC article here

Konstantinos Michmizos, RuCCS Perceptual Science Core Faculty member, performs a study using astrocytes to better the programming of robots controlled by neuromorphic chips

Michmizos' study aimed to understand the way neurons and astrocytes communicate using algorithms inspired by the functioning of your brain. Potentially biased algorithms could backfire on the algorithm's original intent, and instead of gaining profit from an algorithm, worse outcomes may occur as stated by RuCCS Affiliate Professor Jerome Williams in his Algorithmic Bias Webinar for the Marketing Science Institute.

Read more on the study in the Tech Xplore article here and check out Michmizos' lecture here for an in-depth explanation.

RuCCS Affiliate and Distinguished Professor Mariapaola D'Imperio and Co-PIs win NSF Convergence Accelerator Phase I and II $960K Grant

RuCCS Affiliate, Distinguished Professor, and project PI Mariapaola D'Imperio has won a $960,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Convergence Accelerator Program. The grant is for the project "Data & AI Methods for Modeling Facial Expressions in Language with Applications to Privacy for the Deaf, ASL Education & Linguistic Research" which began earlier this September and ends in May of 2021. The grant is awarded to D'Imperio along her Co-PIs Dimitris Metaxas (Rutgers University, Computer Science), Carol Neidle (Boston University), and Matt Huenerfauth (Rochester Institute of Technology).

Thomas Papathomas, Professor and Director of the RuCCS Laboratory of Vision Research, is invited as a founding member to join the Editorial Board of The Journal of Illusion

The Journal of Illusion launched in October under Editor-in-Chief Akiyoshi Kitaoka of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan and is open for submissions. Papathomas is a Senior Editor for the journal alongside ten other professors.

Along with this, Professor Papathomas plans to continue collaborative research project across two sites (Rutgers, Rochester) with Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care's Dr. Steven Silverstein on the correlation between performance in depth-inversion illusions and illness severity in schizophrenia patients. He has also recruited graduate research assistant Christen Crosta and two undergraduate students to continue the research project.
RuCCS Executive Director Sara Pixley wins Rutgers COVID-19 research grant for project "Artificial Intelligence, Pandemics, and Mental Health"

Sara Pixley, Executive Director at RuCCS, is one of the recipients of the grants as the Co-Principal Investigator for "Artificial Intelligence, Pandemics, and Mental Health." The project was granted a social science research award by Rutgers University Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. The center encouraged biomedical and social science researchers at Rutgers to research COVID-19 and its impacts in September for eligibility in the grant opportunity. A total of 35 projects were selected from an application pool of 150. The projects aim to create new knowledge leading to effective virus treatment, improved mental health, and pandemic relief.

More information regarding the grants and other winning projects can be found here.
Rutgers Associate Professor in Cognitive Psychology Dr. Elizabeth Torres gets paper "Reframing Psychiatry for Precision Medicine" accepted into The Journal of Precision Medicine

After depositing the paper in the bioRxvi and receiving community feedback, Dr. Torres' work alongside cognitive science student Jihye Ryu's was accepted for publication in The Journal of Precision Medicine. The paper is part of a special topic Dr. Torres is running on precision medicine and autism and will be part of a special issue of the journal.

Read the paper on bioRxvi here and read more on the special issue and words from Dr. Torres as a guest editor for the journal here.
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and CogSci Steve Stich's Geography of Philosophy Project has been extended and additionally funded through December 2022

The John Templeton Foundation has extended the Geography of Philosophy Project through December 2022 as it was initially intended to end in May of 2021. Along with the extension is the additional funding of nearly $547K to continue project efforts during the pandemic.

"The Project PIs—Clark Barrett, Edouard Machery, and Steve Stich [of Rutgers University]—and the international Team Leaders are enormously grateful to the John Templeton Foundation President, Heather Templeton Dill, and to the Foundation’s dedicated staff for their ongoing support of research inspired by Sir John Templeton’s conviction that all intellectual traditions would be enriched by deep exploration of fundamental philosophical concepts in cultures around the world."
RuCCS Post-Doc Assistant Professor Ryan Rhodes publishes paper "Informative use of “not” is N400‐blind" in Psychophysiology

The paper focuses on how the brain processes negation and was published in collaboration with members of Rhodes' former laboratory at the University of Delaware. The authors write that "the current finding provide new support for late/non‐incremental interpretation of negation even when negation is pragmatically licensed." Read the paper here!
RuCCS Achievements

New RuCCS-ARL Cooperative Agreement, $250K funding granted to Rutgers

RuCCS has entered into a Cooperative Agreement with the Army Research Lab to conduct joint research on “The Interpretation of Moving Shapes.” The Cooperative Agreement is funded by the Development and Engineering Command of the U.S. Army Research and has granted Rutgers $250,000. The agreement is led by PI
Jacob Feldman, Professor in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers.

Congratulations to...
Julien Musolino: Cognitive Scientist and Rutgers Professor in the Department of Psychology, Julien Musolino, received the Chancellor's Award for Impacts in Teaching earlier this year!
Mary RigdonHandbook of Experimental Game Theory worked on by RuCCS Associate Teaching Professor Mary Rigdon is available for purchase now! 
 
"Chapters are organized into several sections; each section concludes with an inspirational chapter, offering suggestions on new directions and cutting-edge topics of research in experimental game theory."
Mariapaola D'Imperio: RuCCS Affiliate and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Linguistics, Mariapaola D'Imperio, obtains an EFL International Chair position to give a lecture series in Paris!

Mariapaola D'Imperio recently obtained an Empirical Foundations of Language (EFL) International Chair position to give a lecture series in Paris, France. The series, "Prosodic interfaces with pragmatic meaning: a laboratory phonology perspective," takes place over four weeks next summer. The EFL program aims to promote innovative and interdisciplinary research within linguistics and related fields. D'Imperio plans to continue collaborating with Parisian colleagues including Dr. Barbara Hemforth through this position.
Elizabeth Torres: NJ Governor's Council for the Medical Research and Treatments of Autism awards grant to RuCCS Affiliate Elizabeth Torres' NJACE!

The grant was awarded to New Jersey Autism Center for Excellence (NJACE) to use the center's technology at schools to teach children how to be social in virtual environments. NJACE is led by Elizabeth Torres, Director and PI of the center. The project is in partnership with Silas Solutions, an award-winning NSF and Microsoft funded local company catering solutions for social-emotional learning to 45+ schools across New Jersey and many others in other states. NJACE's research and technology brings about new methods necessary during a time of encouraged social distance.
Read More RuCCS News Here!
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