Tuesday, 31 October 2017

UoN School of Psychology researchers lead industry collaboration with Airbus and Hensoldt

Researchers from the Newcastle Cognition Lab and the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle lead industry collaboration with aviation-giant Airbus and sensor-house Hensoldt.

Earlier this month, UoN researchers Ami Eidels and Scott Brown, along with PhD students Zachary Howard and Reilly Innes, had spent a week in Airbus' helicopter-simulator facility in Brisbane, testing the effects of degraded visual environment on pilots' performance. The team combined forces with experts from Airbus and Hensoldt to assess cognitive workload during various flight scenarios, and to evaluate the synthetic reality portrayed on the helmet visor using on-board sensing equipment as part of the Hensoldt Sferion System.

The testing was preceded by the signing of a Teaming Agreement between Airbus, Hensoldt, and the University of Newcastle (represented by DVC-R Prof Kevin Hall), during the Pacific2017 exhibition in Sydney.

This pioneering work intends to shed light on how much the new synthetic environment will help to keep pilots, crew and passengers safe in the most demanding scenarios that are the cause of many accidents. This work is also a continuing demonstration of how industry and academia work together to answer to the ever demanding needs and requirements of real-world operators.

Teaming Agreement signing in Pacific2017. From left: Prof Kevin Hall, Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation at the University of Newcastle, Mr Marc Condon from Hensoldt Sensors GmbH, and Mr Tony Fraser, Managing Director of Airbus Australia Pacific.

The Newcastle research team next to Hensoldt's stand in Pacific2017. From left: Ami Eidels, Scott Brown, Zach Howard, and Reilly Innes.

The simulator testing environment. 

Monday, 30 October 2017

Scott Brown nominated editor of Computational Brain & Behavior

Kudos to Prof Scott Brown from UoN School of Psychology, who had just been nominated the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of Computational Brain & Behavior.

Computational Brain & Behavior is a completely new journal, driven and owned by the Society for Mathematical Psychology. Among other chores, Scott will have to shape the journal's vision and establish an editorial board. It is a big challenge, but we're certain he is the right man for the job.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Keats grant supports cross-cultural research on university student adjustment.

Relationships and Psychological Health Lab (RAPHLab)

School of Psychology PhD candidate Jichun (Jessy) Hao and her supervisors, A/Prof Ross Wilkinson and A/Prof Mark Rubin, were fortunate enough to be awarded a grant from the John and Daphne Keats Endowment Research Fund in 2017 to contribute towards research examining university student adjustment in Australia and China. University students experience high rates of mental ill-health that threaten academic engagement, performance and completion. This project, ‘Psychological health in Chinese and Australian university students: A longitudinal study of attachment, mindfulness, social integration, and collectivism-individualism’, seeks to examine the interaction of selected intrapersonal, interpersonal, social, and exogenous factors that may affect psychological health in both Australian and Chinese university students in the first two years of study.  Jessy, with the assistance of international collaborators Prof Raymond Chan (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and A/Prof Binsheng Tian (Yunnan University), collected two-waves of data via online surveys involving more than 1000 students from the University of Newcastle, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing), and Yunnan University (Kunming). This research aims to advance our understanding of factors influencing student psychological health, particularly with respect to cultural differences. The Keats grant supported Jessy and Ross to travel to China in July to assist with data collection at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing), and to meet with Prof Chan and his lab team to discuss project related issues. This visit was highly successful in sharing knowledge and collaboration with Prof Chan for the project write-up and for future projects, publications, and presentations. Jessy also visited Yunnan University to gain further insight into student life and how research is conducted in the Chinese academic environment. Jessy and the team are now in the final stage of second wave data collection, and preparing publications with their international collaborators, with the aim of increasing our understanding of university adjustment and helping inform policy and strategies with respect to factors influencing domestic and international student welfare and retention.

For more information about this research please contact Jichun.Hao@uon.edu.au or Ross.Wilkinson@newcastle.edu.au

Friday, 13 October 2017

SOPRG Presentation by Prof Ann Brewer on AI and modern career trajectories on Tuesday 17th October

SOPRG, the School of Psychology’s Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group invites you to a presentation by Professor Ann Brewer, the Dean of the University of Newcastle Sydney Campus, who will discuss a current book project on encountering, experiencing and shaping careers.

TITLE: Encountering, Experiencing and Shaping Careers

WHEN: Tuesday 17th October, 12-1pm

WHERE: Keats room, Aviation building’s room AVGL17 (video conference link to Science Offices’ seminar room, Ourimbah)

ABSTRACT: The diminution of career for life is upon us. Advances in cognitive computing and artificial intelligence will transform modern life by reshaping all industries including transportation, health, science, finance, and education and training. Consequently work is being restructured; how it is organised with a huge impact on people’s careers.

The concept of career is complex and becomes less straightforward with every new generation leaving school. Despite the increasing need for a thorough rethinking about careers, most people are still getting by on reciting past evidence, reinforcing the status quo and following current educational practice. For most of us, how we think about careers has been entrenched since childhood. However, the career context has changed dramatically over a relatively short period of time. People will have multiple and diverse roles as well as an extended life span and most likely will continue to work past what is conventionally accepted as the retirement age.

Secondly from the time a person starts school through to their working life, the focus is on how well they perform and their achievements. Every generation has experienced this. However with changes in the global economy and labour markets, competition has intensified for the individual. Over time a person develops varying aspirations, ambitions and perceptions about their ‘career’ success, now and in the future. Throughout their lives, people will encounter career progress, failure, disruption and blockage in varying degrees. People will also experience fluctuating intensities of career control, satisfaction, disappointment, anxiety and regret. Amidst this change, the notion of a career has changed.

What are the implications of economic, social and technological change for the upcoming generations? What does career mean today? Has the focus moved from career to employability? Who owns a ‘career’? Has the balance of career control moved from the employer to the individual? How is career adaptability shaped? Increasingly, the focus is on career development, coaching, transitions, choosing or changing careers, a portfolio career or indeed not having a career at all.
The book aims to investigate how people encounter, experience and shape their careers and delves into these issues and questions including: what are the implications for organisational psychology, career guidance and counselling? Are there new careers in the making for psychologists?

Bio:  https://www.newcastle.edu.au/profile/ann-brewer#career

Paper by UoN Psychology researchers examines cognitive workload in drivers and passengers

A recent study by Dr Gabriel Tillman (former RHD student in the School of Psychology, University of Newcastle; currently at Vanderbilt) and colleagues examined cognitive workload in drivers and passengers. 

The study appeared in the journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, and gained traction via the Psychonomic Society's blog, in an article by Cassandra Jacobs. In a nut shell, researchers Gabriel Tillman, David Strayer, Ami Eidels, and Andrew Heathcote conducted a study looking at the impact of high cognitive load across three conditions: driving without distractions, driving and holding a conversation with a hands-free mobile phone, and driving and holding a conversation with a passenger. During the driving session, participants were presented with a peripheral red light and had to respond to it as quickly as possible by pressing a micro switch (the Detection Response Task, DRT). 

The researchers analysed the time to detect the light and found participants were substantially slower to respond to the light when they were engaged in conversation with another person, in both the hands-free mobile-phone case as well as when talking to a passenger. In addition, and in the tradition of the Newcastle Cognition Lab, the researchers fit the data to a computational model of choice and response time. The full results are detailed in the AP&P article, here.

A nice summary is available in the blog-article by Cassandra Jacobs here.

Image result for gabriel tillman
Dr. Gabriel Tillman

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Health and Clinical Psychology Research Group Seminar

The Father-Child Play study – an inter-disciplinary behavioural research project

Drs Jennifer StGeorge, Linda Campbell, Emily Freeman
Ms Taylor Hadlow, Katie Rolfe

Date:  11th October
Time: 12-1pm
Place:  Keats Reading Room (AVLG17), Callaghan (video to Ourimbah)

All welcome!


Given the increased paternal involvement in developed countries, it is becoming important to understand the positive and differential contributions that fathers make to children’s development. Fathers’ time with children peaks in toddlerhood and often takes the form of play-based interactions. Play is known to have a significant impact on a child’s development and fathers’ play has been linked to child-father attachment relationships and children’s social competence. There is now increasing international interest in the nature of fathers’ play and its short- and long-term influence on child development. The purpose of this symposium is to introduce the Australian Father-Child Play study, a longitudinal collaborative project between UON researchers in the School of Health Sciences and the School of Psychology. The project team consists of four Chief Investigators, five M Clin Psych students, and six volunteers from B Psych and B Occ Therapy. The investigators and students will discuss the motivation for studying fathers’ play, the study objectives and innovation in methods, alongside results from student theses. M Clin Psych student Katie Rolfe will present the preliminary results of the most recent analysis, the associations between play, father stress and reported child behaviour problems. Implications for health professionals suggest that research on paternal functions provides an opportunity to complement and extend current practices.