About me: I received my PhD in experimental psychology in 1994 from the University of Göttingen, Germany. I started out as a double major in psychology and math, but didn't pursue the math part past the first two years (Vordiplom). After that, I mainly spent my time studying cognitive psychology, research methods, and dabbled in programming.
My PhD thesis was focused on visual mental imagery - which was at the center of an important theoretical debate in the late 1970s and 1980s within cognitive psychology about the types of mental representations we assume that humans possess. While mental imagery and mental representations are still a fascinating topic, my research interests have become much more applied since then.
Post-PhD I spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at the Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT with Molly Potter looking into higher-level visual perception and the processing of bistable visual images. Upon returning to Germany and teaching at my home institution (similar to an assistant professor) I started doing research in spatial cognition and was part of a large interdisciplinary research group funded by the German Research Foundation which included researchers from cognitive science, linguistics, robotics, and geography.
Through the research in spatial cognition I became very interested in the application of cognitive psychology to real-world technological and design problems and started to think about applications in navigational aids, wayfinding, map displays, and the design of architectural space.
In 2000 I took my current position at the University of Idaho's psychology department and its human factors graduate program. Since then I have expanded my applied interests into many different directions - but usually with a firm grounding in cognitive psychology. Together with students in my lab I have looked at ways to improve wayfinding in complex buildings, designed novel dynamic map displays, created and evaluated a graphical password system, and more recently, investigated automotive user interface strategies like gesture based interactions. Together with my colleague Dr. Brian Dyre we have built the Idaho Driving Simulator to allow us to safely test applications in a medium/high-fidelity simulation environment, and in my cognition and usability lab we use a simple eye-tracker that allows us to monitor visual attention behavior in research participants. In addition, two of our PhD students have looked closely at issues in complex control room design. Their dissertations center on physiological measures of mental workload and situation awareness and we have cooperated closely with the Idaho National Lab in Idaho Falls to conduct this research. Our colleague Dr. Ron Boring is a great mentor on these issues.
As part of the graduate program in human factors psychology I have taught many courses that are linked to these research interests. I regularly teach cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, human-computer interaction, and a new series of skill-based seminars on UX design techniques. Other courses like neuroergonomics and augmented cognition are offered only infrequently if there is enough demand.
Finally, as a cognitive researcher and member of the interdisciplinary neuroscience program at the University of Idaho I am very interested in cognitive neuroscience and have created a website (www.gocognitive.net) that provides any student or instructor with free educational materials around the topic of cognitive neuroscience (thanks to the help of grants from the Idaho SBOE, the Association for Psychological Science, and the National Science Foundation).