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CS Wednesday Talks Spring 2010

February 10: Neil Stillings, professor of psychology and dean of cognitive science
Space, Time, and Complexity: Thinking and Learning about the Earth and Climate

Abstract: Over the past six years I have participated in two NSF-funded projects to promote research on thinking and learning in the geosciences, titled Bringing Research on Learning to the Geosciences and Synthesis of Research on Thinking and Learning in the Geosciences. The projects involved collaborations among researchers and teachers in the geosciences and cognitive scientists who work on learning and development; thinking and reasoning; visual cognition; and instructional design. I will talk about what we learned on these projects, particularly about the roles of space, time, and complexity in thinking and learning about the earth and climate change.

February 17: Ray Coppinger, faculty emeritus
The Mexico City Dump and Island Paradise of Dogs

Abstract: Within any well-defined area dogs will find food, reproduce, and try to stay out of trouble. Mexico City, perhaps the largest city in the world, creates an enormous amount of waste food delivered daily to the 700 dogs in the dump. “All species of animal are limited by food,” says Darwin. But if Darwin had studied the dogs in the Mexico City dump he might not have come up with that theory. The 700 dump dogs have a 24/7/365 reliable food resource. So that is the problem for those dogs living in the dump? That is a very interesting question!

February 24: Charlene D’Avanzo, professor of ecology
Using Diagnostic Questions to Improve a Notoriously Poorly Taught Course: Introductory Biology

Abstract: For the last several years I have been working on an NSF-supported program that integrates research on Diagnostic Question Clusters (DQCs) and their use by faculty teaching introductory biology and ecology. The questions, developed by an education research team at Michigan State, are designed to: 1) help faculty better understand their students’ reasoning about key biological processes, 2) focus on thinking and reasoning most problematic, 3) use targeted active learning approaches to help students improve, and 4) assess students progress. I will describe the Framework for these questions focusing on energy and matter, example student responses to some of the DQCs, and how faculty from a wide range of institutions are responding to this project.

March 3: Meagan Curtis, post doctoral fellow, Tufts
The Pitch Patterns of Emotional Speech Mirror Those Used in the Musical Communication of Emotion

Abstract: This research examines the prosodic contours of emotional speech and identifies specific pitch patterns that typify the expression of sadness and anger. Direct comparisons between speech and music reveal strikingly similar pattern usage across domains. These findings have implications for the fields of emotion, psycholinguistics, music cognition, clinical psychology, and evolutionary psychology.

March 24: Jacob Reider MD (83F) and Isaac Bromberg, MD (89F)
Healthcare and Information Technology: How Cognitive Science Will Impact YOUR Next Doctor Visit.

Jacob Reider (83F) studied cognitive science at Hampshire, then promptly disappointed his mentors by snubbing his nose at an academic career, choosing to go to medical school. Now a leader at one of the most successful healthcare technology companies in the U.S., Dr. Reider has returned to the fold. He works with teams of physicians, cognitive scientists, designers, and engineers to create the user experience that physicians use to care for their patients. In this interactive session, Dr. Reider will provide a quick overview of the crazy, exciting world of health IT, software design processes, and how cognitive science weaves increasingly important threads into the healthcare system in the United States. With Dr. Reider, Dr. Isaac Bromberg (89F), director of informatics, emergency department @ Cooley Dickinson Hospital, will provide a "real-world" view of the role of health IT and its impact on the practice of medicine.

Dr. Reider (83F) is a family physician from Slingerlands, New York, where he continues to practice on an occasional basis in a two-physician office, in addition to his primary professional role as chief medical informatics officer for Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, a company whose electronic health record systems are in use by over 100,000 physicians in the U.S.

While studying biochemistry and marine biology at Hampshire and during a semester and summer at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, Isaac Bromberg (89F) volunteered as an EMT and later director of the Hampshire College EMT Program. After graduating, Isaac continued to work as an EMT and later paramedic in Springfield and Northampton, eventually going to medical school at Albany Medical College, in Albany, NY. Upon graduation from medical school Isaac returned to western Massachusetts to complete a residency in emergency medicine at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA. Since completion of residency, Isaac has worked at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, MA. Cooley Dickinson Hospital began implementation of an electronic medical record in 2007, and since that time Isaac has been the director of informatics for the emergency department, working in collaboration with members of the IT department and the chief medical information officer on design, implementation, and training for clinical information systems.

Reeve Thompson March 31: Reeve Thompson (93F)
Interactive Authoring Revolution: Changing How Videogames and Apps are Made
As videogames have become more visually sophisticated, their development teams have grown from a few highly technical programmers to teams of hundreds, many of whom are artists and designers. To empower effectively these huge teams new ways of developing games needed to be created.

Advanced tools with visual components have allowed the large number of artists and designers to author more and more of the game experience without programming. Led by the iPhone, the complexity and visual sophistication of mobile applications is rapidly increasing, and similar to the videogame industry, tools are starting to emerge that address the challenges of developing content for these devices. In this talk I will discuss the evolution of tools used in videogame development, and how those tools and techniques are applicable to mobile applications. I will also demo the development platform for mobile applications my company is currently creating to solve these challenges and expand the number of people who can develop mobile apps.

April 7: Katherine J. Midgley
Lexis nexus: Investigations of cross-language interactions in bilingual word processing

In 1989 François Grosjean remarked that a bilingual is not simply two monolinguals in one. Grosjean was referring to the high level of interactivity between a bilingual's two languages. In Wednesday's talk evidence of this interactivity in the lexicons of a bilingual's known languages will be presented. This evidence, in the form of electrophysiological data, or brainwaves, comes from experiments involving second language learners and proficient bilinguals in the USA and France. With this line of research, we aim to address the specification of cognitive mechanisms involved in written word recognition in bilinguals and second language learners.

In 2009 Katherine J. Midgley received her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Provence in Marseille France under the direction of Jonathan Grainger. Her research has been centered on word recognition in bilinguals with a concentration on cross-language interactions. Four published articles from her Ph.D. dissertation can be read in The Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Brain Research, Psychophysiology, and the Journal of Neurolinguistics. She currently holds a research position at Tufts University and a research appointment at the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive in Marseille.

April 14: Student Lightning Talks
Evan Silberman on the joys and sorrows of theoretical computer science.
Dan Taub on fox tails and phenotypic variation.
The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) has a tail tip that varies between black and white. This study looked at the occurrence and possible behavioral implications of this phenotypic trait by analyzing museum specimens taken from Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. It was found that 8% of the study population carried this trait and could aid in antipredator behaviors.
Ian McEwen on the Semantic Web and why ontologies are awesome.
Among the more notorious alleged instances of "vaporware" is the Semantic Web, the W3C's vision for a meaning-encoded version of the World Wide Web. In ten minutes: What is it? Why bother? Does anyone actually bother with this craziness? Show me!

April  21: Charles Ross, Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Biology
Using hybrid zones to elucidate adaptation and barriers to gene exchange in crickets

Abstract: Hybridization in nature presents a paradox: It should homogenize two hybridizing species, yet in many cases they remain genetically distinct. For this reason, hybrid zones (areas where two species meet and produce offspring of mixed ancestry) are useful to study because they potentially can tell us about how speciation works, as well as reveal how organisms become adapted to their environments. Barriers to genetic exchange may be important in maintaining the species integrity between two hybridizing species. Two North American ground crickets (Allonemobius socius and A. fasciatus) that hybridize in a band from New Jersey to Illinois exhibit a barrier called, "conspecific sperm precedence" (CSP), which may play an important role in keeping the species distinct. Here I will show data on a potentially new barrier to gene exchange, micro-habitat association, that may act before CSP. Together with CSP, habitat segregation may provide an effective barrier to genetic exchange, maintaining the integrity of these species despite hybridization.

Bio: Charles L. Ross, assistant professor of evolutionary biology, received his B.S. and M.S. in biology from Stanford University, and his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University. He did postdoctoral work at the University of Arizona and New Mexico State University. Charles studies the ecological and evolutionary genetics of hybrid zones and speciation, specifically in crickets. His research and teaching interests include all aspects of evolutionary biology, as well as population genetics, molecular ecology, entomology, and genomics.


April 28: Student Lightning Talks

May 5: Chris Perry, assistant professor of media arts and science; and Jeff Butera, ERP systems manager
Improving TheHub



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