Catherine Mondloch receives Brock award for research and creativity

Professor Catherine Mondloch in the Department of Psychology is the recipient of the 2015 Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity.

Since 1994, Brock has presented the award to recognize outstanding research achievements, contributions toward the training and mentoring of future researchers, and consistency in scholarly activity and creative performance among our faculty members.

We recognize an own-race face more accurately than an other-race face, and young adult faces more accurately than infant, child, and older adult faces.

Mondloch, director of the Face Perception Lab here at Brock, will use the award to continue her research into facial recognition. Face perception is part of our daily lives and relationships, but our ability to recognize faces, though important, isn’t consistent.

“Faces convey a lot of important social information, and adults are experts at perceiving it,” Mondloch explains. “But adults’ expertise takes several years to develop and is limited to the kinds of faces they experience every day. We recognize an own-race face more accurately than an other-race face, and young adult faces more accurately than infant, child, and older adult faces.”

Can we get better at facial recognition? Mondloch plans to find out. This award will fund studies on how a face becomes familiar and whether the process by which we learn a new identity varies with age and as a function of the category to which the face belongs. Significantly, she hopes to develop a training program that will help people become better at recognizing faces from categories with which they have less experience.

Thomas Dunk, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, praised Mondloch for her ongoing work in this important field.

“Non-verbal communication is a key element of social relations. Dr. Mondloch’s research on how we read and understand faces illuminates this significant facet of human interaction and has many applications to social issues,” says Dunk. “I’m delighted that Dr. Mondloch’s contributions have been recognized by the university.”

In turn, Mondloch recognizes the contributions of the scholars working alongside her, who represent different levels of education and come from as far away as the UK, Italy, and China.

“This award really reflects the talent and hard work of the undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in my lab. They impact both the quantity of work we do and its creativity.”

Recipients of the Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity are asked to present a public lecture to share their findings. Mondloch’s talk will be planned through the Lifespan Centre and will target older adults, focusing on how face perception changes as we age.

Mondloch will also publish a book about face perception in the coming years, because it is a topic of high interest to a wide audience. Mondloch believes that we’re curious because we know our own limitations.

“We all are aware that some faces are harder to recognize than others; people like learning about why this is the case—and recognizing that this is completely normal.”


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