Lab Members & Collaborators
Benjamin van Buren
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Ben conducts research on visual perception, focusing on the perception of seemingly higher-level visual properties, such as animacy and intentionality. Ben's broader research interests include the relationship between perception and higher-level thought, the psychology of art and aesthetics, and interaction design. Before joining The New School's Psychology Department, Ben worked with Johan Wagemans at KU Leuven, and with Brian Scholl at Yale.
Grad Student Lab Members
Silas is a Psychology and Fashion student who is studying how visual perception becomes tuned to extract features of cultural expertise — as when (some of us) learn to discriminate between fashion that is 'in' and fashion that is 'out' of style. As a case study in fashion perception, Silas is running an experiment on the categorical perception of glasses styles. They are interested in whether glasses are perceived more categorically when viewed in the context of a human face.
Didi conducts research at the intersection of vision science and social psychology, most recently focusing on how we perceive others' ages from their faces. Before joining the lab, Didi completed a masters degree at NYU, where she investigated a matter of life and death — specifically, how anthropomorphizing objects may help to alleviate anxiety about one's mortality.
Suzy is interested in interaction design, and in how our patterns of visual attention are connected to experiences of stress in fast-paced games. Suzy's experiments are often particularly fun, e.g. asking subjects to move their cursor to avoid colliding with moving obstacles (which sometimes chase them around). She also works with Michael Schober, director of the Language & Interaction Lab.
Loren’s research investigates the wealth of social signals conveyed by human faces, and several specific ways in which these signals support social functioning. In particular, she studies the perception of facial expressions: she is currently researching several distinct variations of smiles (e.g., mischievous smiles, awkward smiles, bittersweet smiles). Loren also conducts research in the Social Psychology Lab and the Language & Interaction Lab.
Hong is studying several ways in which we see the seemingly unseeable — as when an object’s movements look like they are caused by gravity, or an agent’s movements appear to be caused by an internal motive force. Hong is a master experimentalist and collaborator, and she is working on a number of collaborations with other members of the lab. She is also a member of the Cultural Psychology Laboratory.
Marina studies how social, physical, and structural relationships in “expressive” visual phenomena can be understood together, as due to more basic perceptual organization processes. Marina is inspired by Gestalt theory, as well as by contemporary models of mid- and high-level vision. In her most recent work, she is investigating how subtle differences in the movements of simple shapes are perceived as goal-directed, as when one shape appears as 'blocking' the movement of another shape, or as 'waiting' for it pass.
Jiangxue investigates how aesthetic experience arises from more basic perceptual, cognitive, and affective processes. Jiangxue's recent research on compositional aesthetics moves beyond the picture plane, focusing instead on how we most like to see objects positioned in 3D spaces. As a member of the Cultural Psychology Laboratory, Jiangxue also conducts research on how language and culture influence cognition. Before joining the New School, Jiangxue studied philosophy and the history of mathematics at St. John’s, and worked in Daniel Casasanto's lab at Cornell.
Kexuan is a graphic and experience designer at Parsons, whose work in the lab explores the perception of pictorial artworks. Through her research, she hopes to learn about how observers perceive depictions of other spaces, and to deploy her discoveries in new design and UX research applications.
Friends of the Lab
Hannes and the breathing.ai team are collaborating with the lab to study how digital interfaces can be customized to improve people's cognitive performance (focusing on attention and distraction) and wellbeing (focusing on cardiovascular function). Prior to founding breathing.ai, Hannes completed a residency at U. of Oregon's Institute of Neuroscience, where he worked with Drs. Michael Posner and Ed Vogel to study how meditation practice mediates the impact of visual stimuli on breathing.
PhD Student, Brown & Hirst Labs
Olivia conducts research on memory and trauma with Profs. Adam Brown and Bill Hirst, and she is a cofounder of the newly opened MinDesign Lab.
Hanna de Vries
During her time in the lab, Hanna conducted research on the interplay between perception, memory, and visual imagery. As a joint MFA/MA student in Parsons School of Design and the Psychology Department, Hanna played an active role in bridging these two communities by helping to found the MinDesign Lab, which aims to bring the best elements of design thinking to our scientific practice.
PhD Student, Ginges Lab
Since working in the perception lab, Anne's research has focused on the field of intergroup relations and political psychology, where she studies how people evaluate their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and how they perceive those who are excluded. She applies social contract theory to understand the underlying motivations that people may have for justifying citizenship-related advantages. Her other line of research examines people's reasoning about potential trade-offs between their commitment to democratic principles and other moral and partisan values.
Sara Obaid Ul Islam
Sara is interested in how our prior experience with visual environments (e.g. natural scenes, websites) changes the way in which we attend to and extract information from them. In the lab, Sara studied how people deploy attention when viewing social media, which have overnight become a fixture in homo sapiens’ visual ecology. Sara hails from Pakistan, and has received a Fulbright Scholarship to support studying at the New School.
Jimin conducted research on how visual attention works ‘in the wild’, in designed spaces around NYC. Before joining the lab, Jimin completed an MS in Urban Planning at Columbia University, and before that, she worked for the Manhattan Borough President’s Office as a policy analyst.
Mariah is currently a researcher at IBM. Prior to entering the Psychology program, she completed a Master’s degree at Parson’s School of Design. In addition to conducting research on shape perception in lab, together with Michael Schober and Aaron Hill, she also studied how to design hurricane maps for non-experts, in order to optimally visualize uncertainty and improve risk evaluation.