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Psychology Colloquium Series announced

The NDSU Department of Psychology has announced its Colloquium Series for the fall. The talks, which are held in Minard 230, are open to the public. The scheduled presentations include:

• Benjamin Balas, associate professor of psychology

“Recognizing ‘stuff’: Using texture to categorize materials”

Friday, Sept. 1, at 3 p.m.

Balas studies human vision. In particular, he is interested in how light that enters the eyes gets transformed into neural signals that allow us to recognize faces and objects. The recognition of everyday objects is so automatic for most of us that few are aware of the processes and details involved. Despite our lack of awareness, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the texture of objects plays an important role in our ability to identify them by sight. In his presentation, Balas will discuss his latest research on how children and adults learn to use texture to recognize the materials that make up objects. Balas is an award-winning researcher whose work is supported by the National Eye Institute and the National Science Foundation.

• Christopher Whitsel, associate professor of sociology and anthropology

“After the Fall: Educational Inequality in Post-Soviet Central Asia”

Friday, Sept. 8, at 3 p.m.

Whitsel is an expert on social changes that have occurred in Central Asia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In particular, he has studied how differences in government policies, family resources and cultural values have led to differences in educational attainment in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Whitsel will address educational issues in Central Asia. He recently returned from two years in Kazakhstan, where he assisted in the development of a sociology program at Nazarbayev University. He has served as a consultant to UNICEF-Tajikistan and the Open Society Foundation. His research has been supported by the U.S. Department of State, Program for Research and Training for Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union.

• Mark Nawrot, James A. Meier Professor of psychology

“Seeing Depth”

Friday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m.

Nawrot is an authority in the field of visual neuroscience. He and his team are attempting to determine how the human brain creates and uses a spatial model of the environment. In his presentation, Nawrot will present his latest research and shed light on the visual perception of depth. Nawrot’s Visual Function Lab, in the NDSU Center for Cognitive and Visual Neuroscience, is sponsored by the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

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