Post-award reports

2024 FoVea Travel and Networking Award Recipients


Lénia Amaral

Attending the VSS 2024 meeting was a transformative experience, not only for presenting my  research on individual connectivity patterns in blindness but also for the invaluable networking  opportunities provided by the FoVea Networking and Travel award. Dr. Kristina Visscher shared  a lot of expertise on navigating the complexities of an academic career. One of the key  takeaways from our conversation was the importance of participating in grant committees. She  emphasized that understanding the grant review process from the inside out can be incredibly  beneficial. This experience not only offers insights into what reviewers prioritize but also helps  in refining one’s own grant proposals. We discussed some prevalent issues in academia,  particularly concerning grant submissions. Dr. Visscher pointed out that reviewers, who are not  compensated for their time, are also human and subject to biases and pressures. This  perspective was enlightening, highlighting the need for empathy and professionalism in the  review process. She also suggested that professional proof-editing is a valuable tool to enhance  the clarity and quality of submissions, potentially making a significant difference in competitive  grant applications. Our conversation also delved into her research with macular degeneration  patients. Dr. Visscher noted intriguing variability in functional connectivity patterns among  these patients. This variability might be linked to different levels of adaptation, a hypothesis  that opens new avenues for exploration. We brainstormed potential collaborations, considering  ways to combine our samples and strength our findings. 

My discussion with Dr. Woon Ju Park was equally enriching. Dr. Park also emphasized the critical  role of writing grants in academia. She shared her experience with the NIH K99/R00 pathway,  offering a detailed overview of how this grant works and the strategic planning required to  secure it. Her insights into the lengthy and demanding process of job interviews at various  institutions were frank and really valuable. This honest account of the challenges faced during  the interview process was reassuring, providing a realistic view of the academic job market. Dr.  Park’s research interests in auditory processing in blindness and participant recruitment  strategies resonated deeply with my own work. We explored the complexities of recruiting  participants for studies involving special populations, a task that demands sensitivity and  creativity. Additionally, as an international scholar in the US, Dr. Park shared her experiences  and challenges. Her advice on navigating the academic landscape as an international researcher  was particularly relevant, offering practical tips on overcoming cultural and institutional  barriers. 

The VSS 2024 meeting was a crucial moment in my academic journey. The insights gained from  my meetings with Dr. Visscher and Dr. Park have equipped me with new strategies and  perspectives to advance my research and career. These interactions highlighted the importance  of networking, collaboration, and continuous learning in academia. I am excited about the  potential collaborations discussed and look forward to implementing the valuable advice  received. I am also very grateful to have been awarded the FoVea Networking and Travel award.


Akosua Asare

I had a very positive experience at this year’s VSS. The application process which involved recognizing specific networking targets, crafting an email, and even preparing targeted questions, pushed me to develop a precise daily agenda for the VSS conference. As a result of going through this process, I have learnt and developed some useful skills for seeking mentors and networks going forward. I was pleasantly surprised by the immediate responses I got from all the networks I reached out to and their eagerness to meet and share advice. Compared to my previous years, I found this year’s experience to be truly fulfilling as it was nice to have a special time carved out of each day to talk deeply about my current work and plans with scientists who I otherwise may not have been able to. 

My first meeting was with Dr. Kate Bonnen whose work focuses on visual perception, and sensorimotor processing. Dr. Bonnen’s experience with understanding the visual system in contexts relevant to daily life like walking, and object tracking was of great interest to me as that was the current direction my research was headed. We talked about potential ways to incorporate tools like eye-tracking computational modelling techniques into my current neuroimaging paradigms. We talked a lot about transitioning from being a PhD trainee to a postdoc and even to being a faculty. I got general advice on crafting a good research question, thriving as a female vision scientist, and some ways and tools to be and remain productive as a scientist. 

My second networking contact was Dr. Bill Warren whom I met over lunch. With Bill Warren, our conversation focused on our shared interests in how binocular vision and motion research can be implemented in real-world applications like obstacle avoidance in virtual reality environments. Interestingly, he was also very curious about my work on amblyopia, and we discussed that. As I prepare to wrap up my studies also, I tend to think of the next steps in my career and think of roles that help me use my clinical background and research skills. Dr. Warren gave me some pointers and institutions that may be a right for just that and was happy to talk further beyond VSS. 

Overall, I commend the FOVEA committee for putting together this award scheme. I am happy to have gone through the application and networking process, as it gave me the confidence to seek and maintain networks as a professional. I will be utilizing this going forward for my next VSS, as well as for other conferences. 

Seah Chang

I sincerely appreciate FoVea for providing me with this opportunity. I am finishing my third year as a postdoctoral researcher at the Ohio State University, and I am preparing to transition to my home country, South Korea, to pursue my next academic career. In this stage of my career, the FoVea Travel and Networking award provided me with the incredible opportunity to connect with Dr. Sang Chul Chong and Dr. Brian Scholl, both of whom provided valuable insights and guidance as networking mentors.

My first meeting was with Dr. Sang Chul Chong who is leading the Vision, Cognition, and Consciousness Lab at Yonsei University in South Korea. He is a senior scientist who successfully established a thriving research lab in South Korea, following extensive research training in the United States. During our meeting, Dr. Chong generously shared his personal experience in transitioning from a postdoctoral researcher at Vanderbilt University to his current position at Yonsei University. Furthermore, Dr. Chong provided valuable insights into navigating the Korean research landscape, including strategies for securing grants from Korean funding agencies and the differences between the Korean and American research environments. Additionally, we discussed how to maintain and further foster professional connections in the United States post-relocation. 

The next meeting was with Dr. Brian Scholl who is leading the Perception & Cognition Lab at Yale University. Dr. Scholl’s research on how visual perception interacts with other aspects of visual cognition aligns with my research interests in visual perception, attention, and suppression. We talked about potential collaboration opportunities, given the alignment of our research interests. Dr. Scholl, as a respected mentor, has led a successful research group, and I admire his research group’s creative approaches to addressing complex theoretical questions and effective ways of presenting research findings. During our meeting, I sought his guidance on several key aspects of building a successful research program, presenting research findings effectively, and establishing a strong academic presence. He shared his personal approaches to run a lab and advise students. Dr. Scholl’s mentorship has provided me with valuable guidance and inspiration as I embark on this new phase of my academic career.

Overall, the meetings with Drs. Sang Chul Chong and Brian Scholl proved incredibly fruitful as I navigate my future career transition in academia. Both mentors I selected for this application are respected scientists and mentors in vision science, and this experience was very informative and empowering. I really appreciate the FoVea committee for granting me the opportunity to make meaningful connections.


Mina Elhamiasl

I am profoundly grateful to the FoVea Organizing Committee and Advisory Board for organizing the Travel and Networking Award, affording me to participate in the Vision Sciences Society (VSS) conference this year. This experience has been invaluable in my professional journey, particularly as I navigate the transition to a postdoctoral position.

The VSS conference held profound significance for me as I sought to advance my career in vision sciences research. During the event, I had the privilege of networking with two distinguished individuals, Dr. Nancy Kanwisher and Dr. Marisa Carrasco. My interactions with both of them were incredibly insightful.

My first meeting was with Dr. Nancy Kanwisher, where we engaged in a discussion about my research project and its implications for understanding the development of visual attention and perception. Dr. Kanwisher provided me with invaluable advice regarding transitioning to postdoctoral positions. She emphasized the importance of envisioning myself as a future lab leader and identifying the skills I need to develop or improve during my postdoctoral training to successfully run an independent research program. She also highlighted the importance of staying open to various job opportunities beyond academia. She mentioned that while pursuing a PhD, we need to explore diverse career paths and consider how our skills and knowledge can be applied beyond the traditional academic realm. 

Next, I met with Dr. Marisa Carrasco, whose positive attitude made our conversation truly enjoyable. She encouraged me to share my research findings and provided valuable insights into the postdoctoral application process. She mentioned the factors I need to consider when applying for a postdoc position. She also addressed the difficulties faced by international students transitioning into post-doc and job roles and offered valuable guidance to overcome them. In addition, she emphasized the importance of grant writing skills for those intending to pursue a career in academia.

Both Dr. Nancy Kanwisher and Dr. Marisa Carrasco are respected figures in vision science. Their dedication to both academic excellence and social impact is a source of inspiration for me as I navigate my journey in this field. 

Overall, the FoVea Travel and Networking Award has not only facilitated my attendance at the VSS conference but has also served as a catalyst for personal and professional growth. I am deeply appreciative of the support and opportunities afforded to me. I highly recommend individuals passionate about advancing their careers in vision sciences to consider applying for this award, as it offers unparalleled opportunities for professional growth and networking within the field.


Kathy Garcia

I am deeply grateful for the FoVea committee for awarding me the FoVea Travel and Networking Award for VSS 2024. As I am finishing the second year of my Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University as an underrepresented minority woman in NeuroAI research, I set out to gain insight into the intersection of academics and industry, and explore the different paths on which I could embark on my upcoming projects. Based on these goals, I met with two brilliant scientists, Dr. Robert Geirhos (Google DeepMind) and Dr. Thomas Serre (Brown University), who allowed me to experience invigorating perspectives on AI research and development in industry and academia, respectively. 

My meeting with Dr. Robert Geirhos was incredibly insightful and enriching. We talked about his talk at VSS and ongoing work, as well as the talk I gave, titled “Large-Scale Deep Neural Network Benchmarking for Dynamic Social Vision”. We discussed my current work and explored how his research could contribute to my future goals. A substantial part of our conversation focused on transitioning from academia to industry, where Dr. Geirhos shared his experiences at Google DeepMind. He offered crucial insights into the necessary skills for making such a transition, including the importance of networking early and building a quantifiable resume. This discussion also highlighted the exciting opportunities available for computational vision science researchers like me. Overall, his experiences underscored how valuable practical applications of academic research and interdisciplinary collaboration can be, while highlighting the specific differences between academia and the industry for the latter. As a result, I feel determined to gain industry experience through an internship opportunity, and inspired to welcome the challenges an industry-path may bring. 

Next, Dr. Thomas Serre’s insight was particularly important for my current work as a Ph.D. student, as we share similar research goals and I have been looking for new project ideas. We discussed his career in academia, from his experiences from a Ph.D. student all the way to a tenured professor. Both his and my research interests are centered around computational methods for modeling the visual system and the human brain at large. In particular, Dr. Serre has a documented expertise on biologically plausible computational models, which I hope to continue exploring in my research endeavors. After discussing the various ways in which our research interests intersect, we discussed avenues for collaboration before setting up subsequent meetings for finalizing the projects on which we could collaborate. Dr. Serre was kind enough to

offer for me to visit his lab over the summer. I wholeheartedly believe that the chance to collaborate with Dr. Serre will be a tremendous opportunity for advancement as I move forward with my degree. 

Once again, I am deeply grateful to FoVea for the chance to meet with well-respected scientists in vision sciences, allowing me to gain invaluable insights into my future in academia, as well as a possible trajectory in the industry after finishing my degree. Meeting with Dr. Geirhos and Dr. Serre provided me with new perspectives and future collaborations that will significantly enhance my research and professional development. In particular, learning more about the significance of networking and the best practices to begin collaborative work was indispensable. Seeing the successful and productive outcome of the FoVea Travel and Networking Award has been truly inspiring. In that spirit, I will continue pursuing mentorship opportunities, fostering empowerment and support for underrepresented minority women in vision sciences.


Yue Guzhang

As an introvert, I find it challenging to approach people at conferences, even when I am genuinely interested in their research or career paths. The FoVea travel award provided me with an opportunity to formally network with people without the pressure of being impromptu. My main goal for this networking opportunity was to ask for advice on career transitioning post-graduate school, specifically in academia. 

My first meeting was with Dr. Ziad Hafed. I chose Dr. Hafed because 1) his work aligns with my research interests, 2) his educational background was quite similar to mine, and 3) his career trajectory was of interest to me. We first talked about differences in faculty positions between the US and Europe. He pointed out that job stability is greater in Europe than in the US with a common 12-month salary compared to a 9-month salary in the US. In addition, getting funding is easier in Europe compared to the US. Secondly, we talked about strategies for switching from human psychophysics to monkey neurophysiology for post-doc positions. He mentioned that because learning the related skills and training monkeys take a while, it is better to do human psychophysics while training monkeys to keep a steady flow of productivity. Lastly, Dr. Hafed suggested that I move to a different institution or even country to do my post-doc since my undergraduate and graduate studies are from the same institution. 

My second meeting was with Dr. Yaoda Xu. I chose Dr. Xu because I was interested in her career transition from a tenure-track faculty to a full-time research scientist. Through our conversation, I understood the challenges of being a female in academia. Because females tend to be the main caretakers of their children, it becomes difficult to juggle career and family at the same time. It puts females at a disadvantage since getting tenured is a time-sensitive matter. However, on the positive side, being a full-time researcher, Dr. Xu can conduct research wholeheartedly without worrying about the administrative work that comes with being a professor. 

To sum up, I am grateful for this networking opportunity and Dr. Hafed and Dr. Xu for connecting with me. Our conversations have not only provided me with practical advice for my future career but also inspired me to gain different research experiences in the future. 


Alexis Kidder

I feel very grateful to have received a FoVea Travel and Networking Award, especially at this time in my academic career. I am currently a 4th year graduate student and was able to speak with my networking contacts about my dissertation research, pursuing a postdoc position, and my overall research goals. I was lucky enough to speak with three networking contacts, Dr. Nancy Kanwisher, Dr. Galit Yovel, and Dr. Anina Rich, and my conversation with each one of these amazing scientists were extremely helpful. 

The first networking contact I met with was Nancy Kanwisher. We talked about one of my dissertation projects, as it was largely inspired by one of her recent publications. It was beneficial to have her insight on the project, and to chat about the importance of designing experiments to be interesting and meaningful regardless of how the results turn out. We also talked about how overwhelming it feels to have to learn so many different computational methods, and it was comforting to know that even someone as established as she is felt similarly to me. After our conversation, I was even more excited to use new computational methods in my dissertation projects. 

The next day, I met with Anina Rich during lunch. We talked in-depth about how to balance life with an academic career, and she gave me several useful tools to help me prioritize my goals and time spent on different tasks. She also gave me tips on advocating for yourself during your career and told me about overcoming challenges she has experienced as a woman in science. This conversation gave me confidence about navigating an academic career, and I’ve already used and shared the tools she gave me. 

I then met with Gailt Yovel. Her research most strongly aligns with my research goals, and talking to her about conducting research at the intersection of different fields was inspiring. We chatted about one of my dissertation projects, face processing research in general, and potential prosopagnosia subtypes that may exist. Additionally, I’m considering pursuing an international postdoc position, and her perspective on conducting research across countries made obtaining this goal feel feasible. 

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the conversations I had with my networking contacts. Each conversation gave me an interesting perspective to consider, and made me excited about my dissertation projects and research career. I am grateful that my networking contacts were so generous with their time, and for this unique opportunity. I highly recommend anyone considering applying for the FoVea Travel and Networking Award to do so! 


Hilal Nizamoglu

Through the FoVea networking and travel award, I arranged a meeting with Prof Rachael Jack and Dr Leyla Isik on separate days. Both of them generously spared their time to stop by my poster and provided invaluable comments and feedback which we then also had time to discuss more during our individual meetings.

When I met with Prof Jack, my main focus was to understand how she and her collaborators created such a generous environment where they could combine different advanced statistical methods with novel use of computer graphics in the face perception literature. She was kind enough to share her own experience at different stages of her career and also provided her insights on the necessity of networking with like-minded people from different fields to extend the impact of your research beyond its traditional boundaries. She then introduced her group to me and I also had an additional meeting with Dr. Yueng Yan to talk more about her current work which I plan to contribute this fall.

On another day, I met Dr. Isik to discuss the methodology and results of her work which is directly related to what I am trying to apply in the face perception literature. She provided suggestions on my research design and analysis. This was very helpful and I appreciated it a lot. Later, we talked about the postdoc career opportunities in the US and what kind of funds are available for international PhDs. She has been very open and transparent on this issue as well. This conversation made me realize that I must attend VSS towards the end of my PhD once again to talk about potential postdoc advisors in person and get to know them in this very friendly and supportive environment.

Additionally, I had the chance to meet and talk with Dr. Charisse Pickron thanks to the Mentoring Envisioned program of FoVea. We talked about her insights and own experience throughout her career and she shared the potential funding sources for doing a postdoc in the US as an international student. I had not known about the programme she mentioned before, so I am deeply thankful for that as well.

Overall, it was my very first in-person VSS experience and I cannot stress how much I enjoyed the fruitful discussions I experienced during many symposia, talk and poster sessions. This made me realize the importance and impact of my own research and motivated me to pursue science for sure. I am very grateful for the unique opportunity given by the FoVea networking and travel award organization committee that enlarged my VSS experience even more by giving me the chance to meet two senior scientists whose work I have been following since the first day of my PhD. I highly recommend my peers to consider and apply to this invaluable award. Thank you very much once again.


Julie Ouerfelli-Ethier

As a recent PhD graduate, I am grateful to the FoVea Organizing Committee and Advisory Board for awarding me this opportunity to build both research and personal connections with two mentors. I will soon be starting a postdoc in Germany and was looking forward to benefitting from both the context of VSS and this opportunity to meet mentors as an early career scientist. As such, my Networking Plan was twofold: connecting with outstanding female scientists to exchange ideas for future collaborations and research, and discussing my future career path. I met with Dr Carly Leonard and Dr Miriam Spering, and I deeply appreciate their  time and valuable guidance. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Leonard twice during VSS. She kindly came to my poster session, where we had an initial discussion, before we formally met later. Meeting with Dr Leonard was particularly insightful for me as her previous work was the inspiration for parts of my PhD work; we have both worked on attentional and suppression mechanisms during target selection. Because our research topics were aligned, we were able to explore in depth new ideas pertaining to our respective research trajectories. More specifically, we discussed how individual differences in attention tasks and vision loss are shaping our research on attention and inhibition. Regarding the research I presented at VSS, my conversation with Dr Leonard was equally beneficial; she made suggestions for both future analyses and theoretical frameworks to explore in my readings. Our conversation was mutually stimulating, fueling  new ideas within our future research and for future collaborations.

My exchange with Dr Spering focussed on my career path. I was delighted to meet with Dr Spering as she is German and had moved to Canada for her career while I will be moving to Germany. She had also spent some of her sabbatical time in the lab I will soon be joining. Dr Spering was insightful and supportive addressing my concerns regarding immigrating, cultural and linguistic differences, and my career goals. She offered valuable tips and d insights into academia related to my interests. After our discussion, I recognized that such openness between mentee and mentor is vital for our scientific community, especially for young female scientists in search of guidance for their career. I cannot help to reflect that often our career path is addressed by seniors without delving much into a sense of personal connection or addressing the roots of some of our insecurities or the infamous “Impostor Syndrome”. I am thankful that Dr Spering took the time to answer my questions and my concerns with empathy. 

Overall, establishing human connections with mentors during VSS was invaluable for me on both a professional and a personal front. I am certain that my interactions with these two senior female scientists will greatly benefit my growth as a scientist and as well, feed new research interests. 



2023 FoVea Travel and Networking Award Recipients


Seoyoung Ahn

I am deeply grateful to FoVea for organizing this award and for providing me with this incredible opportunity. Attending the VSS conference this year held great significance for me as I am currently seeking a postdoctoral position and had arranged multiple meetings with various principal investigators (PIs) and postdoctoral researchers. One of the PIs I had the privilege of meeting was Dr. Fan, whose research group has made significant contributions in bridging the fields of AI and human behavioral science. During our meeting, I introduced my own computational modeling work and we explored potential connections between our research areas. Dr. Fan’s enthusiasm and dedication to solving problems and generating novel, thought-provoking questions left me truly inspired. Additionally, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Aminoff, whom I had connected with through a FoVea’s mentoring program. Her insightful advice regarding postdoctoral positions and valuable tips for success as a female researcher were incredibly valuable to me. Dr. Aminoff’s sincere interest in mentoring students and her openness to providing help were truly inspiring. I couldn’t help but wish to be like her in the future – a successful researcher leading and supporting fellow female scientists.

Furthermore, I had the opportunity to interact with accomplished postdoctoral researchers such as Dr. Breedlove and Dr. Ayzenberg. The atmosphere was informal and relaxed, yet we engaged in fruitful discussions and exchanged research resources related to our shared interests. I had planned to meet them because they are pioneers in collecting and analyzing data on visual brain functions beyond the traditional ventral recognition process. I had the opportunity to learn about their datasets and findings, which were helpful in shaping my computational modeling approaches. In addition to the research insights, they offered practical career advice, particularly regarding postdoctoral applications and research directions. Their guidance was invaluable in helping me navigate the next steps in my academic journey.

Overall, as someone with a long-term goal of establishing a cognitive science and neuroscience-driven AI research and training program, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to meet many successful researchers from diverse backgrounds and expand my professional network. I would highly recommend applying for this grant to other female scientists. Not only did it provide crucial financial support for my travel, alleviating logistical concerns, but more importantly, it acted as a catalyst for me to connect with new individuals, envision my future trajectory, and actively explore and uncover new research directions. Furthermore, this experience has strengthened my commitment to promoting the representation of women and other underrepresented groups in vision research and education. It has fueled my aspiration to become a successful and influential researcher, just like the individuals I met this year. I hope to leverage my future accomplishments to participate in more mentoring opportunities, empowering and supporting aspiring other female researchers in their own journeys!


Ilona Bloem

After obtaining my PhD and working as a postdoctoral researcher in the United States, I planned to return to my home country, the Netherlands, for the next chapter in my academic career. Recognizing the significance of this transition, the FoVea Travel and Networking award provided me with the invaluable opportunity to connect and network with two Dutch scientists, Dr. Heleen Slagter and Dr. Janneke Jehee. Both Heleen and Janneke received substantial training in the United States and have since established successful and productive research labs in the Netherlands. During our meetings, I wanted to discuss a few key topics that would help me in this transitional phase from a postdoctoral researcher to a faculty member. My focus was on gaining insights into their experiences as faculty members at Dutch universities and seeking their advice on securing grants from Dutch or European funding agencies. 

My first meeting was with Heleen Slagter, who leads the Cognition and Brain Plasticity Laboratory and is co-head of the department in Cognitive Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. During our conversation, she shared her personal story of transitioning from a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to her current position at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The experiences she shared were valuable both on a personal and professional level. Furthermore, she has extensive experience serving on European grant review panels, and we discussed how to make myself stand out with regard to grant writing. 

The next meeting was with Janneke Jehee, who leads the Visual Computation and Neuroimaging group at the Donders Institute in Nijmegen. In our conversation, we discussed that the specific challenges that come with the move from the Unites States back to the Netherlands. One key takeaway from our discussion was the importance of nurturing my professional connections within the US. These relationships not only provide support but also contribute to my career development. Moreover, she emphasized the significance of enhancing visibility, which made me realize the need to proactively showcase my work and expertise to establish a strong academic presence.

Overall, the FoVea award enabled me to engage and gain invaluable insights into navigating the academic landscape in the Netherlands, securing grants, and fostering professional connections. This experience has provided me with a deeper understanding of the steps required to advance my career and make a meaningful impact in my field. I would like to thank both Heleen and Janneke for making the time to meet with me and share their valuable experiences. 


Vassiki Chauhan

I am deeply grateful to the FoVea Organizing Committee and Advisory Board for conceptualizing and sustaining an award as unique as the Travel and Networking Award. Simply preparing the application materials transformed my conference experience, as it allowed me to think deeply about researchers whose work not only inspires me, but whose input in the evolution of my research could play an 

instrumental role in shaping my career. Attending VSS to present my recent empirical findings as a first year Postdoctoral Fellow; and as a speaker and organizer of the Symposium titled “Critical Perspectives on Vision Science: Towards Unbiasing Our Methods and Role in Knowledge Production”; my conference experience was already set to be incredibly rewarding. However, it was greatly enhanced by connecting with mentors whose work I was intimately familiar with, but hadn’t had the opportunity to connect with at a personal level. Any early career researcher can, at some level, relate to the hesitation in approaching an established researcher, but when an award necessitates such interactions, it creates not just the ability for a candidate to attend important conferences, but form lasting connections that have the potential to shape their lifelong research. Not only was I thrilled to have a chance to sit down with two spectacular researchers whom I’ve repeatedly encountered through papers and talks, I was also emboldened by their openness and enthusiasm at our meetings. My confidence in how I approached the conversation increased upon learning that it was one that my mentors themselves were genuinely interested in having! Broadly, I learned that such awards benefit everyone involved, and I hope that they will continue to be made accessible for the benefit of as many people as possible. 

The two networking targets I identified were Dr Talia Konkle, whose lab in MIT studies object and category representation in the ventral temporal cortex and Dr Leyla Isik, who studies the brain’s ability to extract social information from naturalistic interactions. Dr Konkle’s work probes the part of the cortical surface that I am most familiar with, and Dr Isik utilizes many of the analysis techniques that I have also used as a part of my dissertation work, in probing the role of an intriguing patch of cortex — the superior temporal sulcus — in representing multimodal social information, which is also an important region of interest in my current work on how reading engages the distributed language network. It was straightforward to identify mentors, as I have been following both their work for many years, including at past VSS meetings. I prepared for the meetings by going over their recent publications and thinking through all the ways in which their work intersects with mine, but the conversations ended up being a lot more generative than what I had planned or imagined. I described some of my recent work to Dr Konkle, but we spent most of the time we had together discussing the importance of the first paragraph of a research statement. Like a true mentor, it felt like Dr Konkle was not just interested in my results, but in the span of my career. My meeting with Dr Isik followed my poster presentation, at which she generously took the time to stop by, so our discussion was focussed on my proximal goals. Dr Isik was forthcoming and transparent about her journey on the job market, and reiterated the importance of crafting a good research statement while applying for faculty positions. She also gave me some excellent advice about the timeline at which to apply and how to adjudicate between spending time on conducting research, writing papers and grants and preparing application materials. Both conversations were insightful and invigorating. I have had the privilege of working with incredible research mentors starting with my Master’s degree, through graduate school and now in my current postdoctoral position, but receiving time, attention and feedback from the mentors I identified through the FoVea Travel and Networking Grant helps me feel even less alone in everything that is to come.


Anna Corriveau

I am a psychology PhD student at the University of Chicago finishing my third-year in the program. I study sustained attention and, in particular, I am interested in predicting and improving individuals’ ability to maintain attention over time. As a graduate student midway through my career, I was excited to meet with two respected researchers to talk about future goals and pathways forward. Both meetings proved invaluable, as I was able to chat about my own research as well as hear their advice for navigating the next steps of my academic career. I am grateful to the FoVea committee for organizing this opportunity for scientists in the early stages of their research careers. 

I was able to meet with two researchers who are not only leaders in their fields but also respected mentors. My first meeting was with Dr. Julie Golomb, an expert in visual attention and perception. I talked with Dr. Golomb about my ongoing research investigating behavioral and neural predictors of sustained attention and we discussed the directions I hope to explore in the future. We also talked about navigating the second half of a graduate program, seeking out post-doc positions, and the importance of championing one’s own research. Her encouragement and advice was highly motivating as I think about my goals for my graduate career. My second networking target was Dr. Talia Konkle who is a leader in using computational neural networks to understand the brain.  We discussed potential approaches for computationally modeling sustained attention using neural fMRI data. We also spoke about seeking potential post-doc opportunities and how to find the right fit in a lab. Again, I left my meeting with Dr. Konkle feeling excited about continuing my research and prepared to navigate the next steps in my academic path.

I enjoyed these scientific and meta-scientific conversations with both networking targets. In particular, it was helpful to hear perspectives from senior researchers about the somewhat informal process of finding post-graduate positions and important factors to consider that may impact one’s success after graduate school. It was also incredible to establish a relationship with these scientists in which I will feel comfortable seeing and talking with them at future conferences. The ability to have conversations about the scientific and non-scientific aspects of academia is a major benefit to early-career researchers, and I am thankful to FoVea for lowering the barrier to having these conversations. I highly recommend anyone contemplating applying to the FoVea Travel and Networking Award to take advantage of this unique and important opportunity.


Evi Hendrikx

I had the opportunity to meet up with two brilliant researchers: Jessica Cantlon and Stella Lourenco. 

I met up with Jessica Cantlon for lunch during VSS. Jessica investigates number representations, amongst others during (typical) development. We talked about research into numerosity and timing in general, and we discussed one of my specific interests here: whether and how they could be related. We went into some of the current gaps in the literature and hypothesized about what the missing results could be. Furthermore we shared ideas and experiences regarding equity and diversity. 

Next, I met up with Stella Lourenco. This was online, after VSS. It was encouraging to see that regardless of unforeseen circumstances, it was still possible to have a meeting. Stella investigates number as well, but argues that numerosity is interdependent with other magnitude information in the environment. She therefore distinguishes perceived and conceptual number. We discussed projects that we were currently working on and how these were or could be related to each other. It was inspiring to see how she applied hypotheses initially developed for number, such as the perceived and conceptual distinction, to other research areas. As she would put it: “the world seems to make sense after all 😉”. 

Besides theoretical discussions, I received suggestions and invitations that will be valuable to my future academic career. I want to emphasize that it was mainly creating a concrete networking plan, that allowed me to focus on coming up with questions regarding personal development or more meta-level, career-oriented questions. Usually, I would rather give priority to reading as much as theoretical knowledge as possible. However, also the “non-theoretical side” was actually an important aspect of both meetings! 

Jessica gave me suggestions for the direction of my research during a potential postdoc, by assessing what specific expertise she was currently missing in the field. She also kindly invited me to have drinks with the rest of her lab in the evening, which allowed me to meet even more talented researchers (and have a great time!). Stella encouraged me to reach out if she could help me to find a position in the US after my PhD. Furthermore she suggested a follow up in-person meeting whenever I will be in the area, to hear how my projects are developing. I left both of the meetings feeling inspired and confident for potential future networking opportunities. A big thank you to FoVea for making this possible!


Brianna Hunter

The FoVea networking and travel award provided me the opportunity to attend VSS for the first time and have meaningful interactions with my two networking targets. I had the pleasure of meeting with Drs. Ben Balas and Melissa Kibbe while at VSS, which was invaluable for both my personal and professional growth. As a first year postdoc, actively creating a career plan for the future adapting to the current transition, these conversations were incredibly productive.

During my conversation with Dr. Balas, we talked at great length about the application process for academic faculty jobs and how goodness-of-fit is critically important on both ends. He generously shared anecdotes from his own application process and also his thoughts on the resources available to researchers at different types of institutions. I was also fortunate to meet his partner, who is also a developmental researcher, and she was similarly able to share her perspectives on how to manage work-life balance in academia. Their advice and experiences deepened my understanding of the academic landscape and my interest in finding the right professional fit.

In my discussion with Dr. Kibbe, we focused on career transitions and effective time management. She started the conversation by sharing that she believes the transition from graduate school to postdoc was much greater than the transition from undergrad to graduate school. We talked about the importance of this postdoctoral time for me to develop an independent research identity while still benefitting from feedback from my advisors. She also gave advice for me as I think towards my next career steps, such as how to manage time commitments, communicate expectations with co-workers, and utilize open science practices (e.g., registered reports) to scaffold the transition to independence.

Overall, I found my meetings with Drs. Ben Balas and Melissa Kibbe to be incredibly fruitful, and I am deeply grateful for their continued support and mentorship as I navigate future career transitions. The FoVea networking and travel award not only facilitated these interactions but also allowed me to expand my professional network by establishing new connections with respected researchers in my field. 


Samantha Jenks

One of my goals for VSS 2023 was to be able to connect with more people than I had in the past year. That is why receiving this award was so beneficial to me because it provided me the opportunity to meet with two people, and it also gave me the confidence to talk with others. I met with Dr. Marisa Carrasco and Dr. Martin Rolfs who gave me insight to further my projects as well as sound career advice. Due to the positivity that I was met with during these meetings, I became more open to introducing myself to others and was able to enjoy spontaneous conversations. 

I first met with Dr. Marisa Carrasco. This meeting was great because I was able to go into detail about what I have been working on and receive feedback on a few of my projects. Since my research directly relates to what her lab does, we were able to further discuss where the visual asymmetries in the foveola might originate. This conversation was very insightful because it gave me better ideas about the direction that I should take my next project. In general, talking with Dr. Carrasco provided me with a new and complementary perspective of the research that I have been working on. We also agreed to see each other again later this summer at ECVP. 

My second meeting was with Dr. Martin Rolfs. I really enjoyed having this meeting because we talked about the current research that we are both doing, but also talked about how one can begin to guide their careers. Since I am a third year PhD, I have some projects that are already in function, but I am currently at a crossroads of where I can take my research. As a result, I asked Dr. Rolfs advice about the logistics of deciding which direction I should begin to steer my research towards. This question was answered with positivity and openness and we began to also talk about what it is like to do research in a different country. During this conversation, I was invited to expand the possibilities of where I would be willing to do my research. 

Overall, I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to meet with Drs. Marsia Carrasco and Martin Rolfs. Not only was I able to talk in depth about my research, but I was able to receive some sound advice on thinking ahead after my PhD.

Natalia Khodayari

I would like to deeply thank the FoVea team for selecting me as a recipient of the FoVea Travel and Networking Award for VSS 2023. During my first attendance to VSS, I had the privilege of meeting Drs. Jeremy Wolfe and John Serences where we discussed many topics ranging from current research to future goals. 

Dr. Jeremy Wolfe is a professor of Ophthalmology and Radiology at Harvard Medical School where his lab investigates the neural mechanisms and real-world applications of guided search in vision. My meeting over coffee with Dr. Wolfe focused predominantly on discussing the role of distractor suppression in selective attention and guided search. When I introduced the topic, Dr. Wolfe asked that we ‘try to come up with an interesting story’ where suppression would play an important role in search. This single statement stuck with me, as it was so casual yet so effective at getting to the heart of developing strong research questions. From this single question, we postulated various instances where suppression may play a role in guided search and how different forms of suppression may have different degrees of influence on attention. To this, we discussed why suppression effects tend to be smaller than enhancement effects and whether suppression effects are generally small and less-influential than enhancement effects, or whether context and forms of suppression affect the degree of influence suppression may have on search. 

Dr. John Serences is a professor in the Department of Psychology at UC San Diego who investigates the neural mechanisms of attention, memory, and decision-making utilizing neuroimaging and computational methodologies. During lunch, we first discussed my current research on the mechanisms of enhancement and suppression. During this conversation, Dr. Serences offered great feedback on a different way to use the split-half analysis method to investigate an alternative form of internal-reliability in my experiment. We then discussed my future academic plans as an eventual post doc and later professor. Dr. Serences offered helpful advice regarding how to prepare for these positions and the application processes. We discussed my pursuit of broader applications in improving education efficacy and our experiences in the US education system. Dr. Serences alleviated many questions I had and made me feel far more prepared to pursue my future academic goals. 

Beyond encouraging me to contact my two incredible Network Targets discussed above, the FoVea Award taught me a priceless lesson that I will hold for the rest of my life: to reach out! I previously held immense weight on reaching out to other academics, but this experience has empowered me to contact our community more freely and with greater confidence. As a result, I additionally chatted with many other wonderful researchers all from a simple email, twitter message, or in-person introduction. My first VSS experience could not have gone more positively and I again, deeply thank the FoVea committee for granting me this opportunity. 🙂 


Lisa Kroell

I received the award towards the end of my PhD and wanted to use the networking meetings as an opportunity to collect ideas for a grant proposal and initiate potential collaborations. My meetings therefore involved very concrete, project-centered discussions. I met with Prof. Hamutal Slovin from Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv and with Prof. Martina Poletti from the University of Rochester. Both of them are experts in active, low-level visual processing at the foveal scale and approach this topic from different angles and with different methodologies. 

Hamutal examines the neural properties of low-level vision and its modulation by fixational saccades using various methods such as voltage-sensitive dye imaging and optogenetics in macaque monkeys. In recent experiments, her and her team started investigating an increase

in foveal V1 activation preceding the execution of fixational saccades (an idea which was motivated in part by our psychophysical findings in human observers). During our meeting, Hamutal gave me a thorough explanation of their experimental paradigm and results. We furthermore discussed the potentially different neural underpinnings of our findings in small- and large-scale saccadic eye movements. Even before our meeting, Hamutal had connected me with members of her lab and initiated a second meeting in which I was able to gain further insight and discuss the steps necessary to provide neurophysiological evidence for a key

characteristic of our findings with her team. Martina and her lab employ high-resolution eye tracking in human observers to study attentional and perceptual phenomena that are conventionally characterized in the peripheral visual field within the central foveola. In our meeting, we discussed potential psychophysical experiments that could advance my project in general. We subsequently brainstormed ideas on how high-precision eyetracking may lead to a deeper understanding of our findings, and devised experimental designs that could be tested in a potential future collaboration.

In sum, both of my networking meetings will likely shape my research focus in the upcoming years. The FoVea community is incredibly supportive and comprised of people who make every effort to lift each other up. I am very happy to be part of this community and would encourage everyone to apply.


Florencia Martinez Addiego

I am very grateful to have been awarded the FoVea Networking and Travel award. This was my first time attending the Visual Sciences Society (VSS) annual meeting. As I am close to concluding my third year of my PhD program, I know that this conference was an excellent opportunity for me to begin exploring post-graduation opportunities. Specifically, I aimed to use this conference to start having conversations about different career paths and start building more concrete trajectories. With the help of the FoVea award, I was able to network with incredible junior and senior scientists, learning about each of their perspectives and receiving invaluable advice.  

For VSS, I asked Dr. Leyla Isik and Dr. Talia Konkle to be my networking targets. I chose Drs. Isik and Konkle because of their expertise and knowledge in computational methods and models for answering cognitive neuroscience questions. I also knew beforehand that I wanted to use the meetings to explore new analytical directions and ideas for future research questions. Moreover, both interest me as potential future post-doctoral advisors. 

Dr. Isik has studied the advantages of a hierarchical organization in object recognition extensively and her lab focuses on understanding how humans can acquire a large amount of visual and social information from very complicated scenes. During our conversation we talked about the different ways we could leverage computational modeling to better understand visual action representations. I also had the opportunity to speak to her a little about my own research findings and we discussed different ways I could incorporate computational modeling into my work. Finally, we also spoke about how she looked for different post-doctoral opportunities, how she approached the conversations, and what qualities she looked for in a good mentor. 

During my meeting with Dr. Konkle, we talked about the different levels of an abstraction hierarchy as it pertains to action understanding (from low-level kinematics to a higher-level goal). We touched on how she became interested in computational modeling and the ways she thinks it might be helpful for providing insights into how the brain accomplishes tasks we take for granted (e.g. being able to recognize an action’s goal despite variations in context). Towards the end of the conversation, we began exploring different questions computational techniques could help answer as it pertained to action execution.

Being awarded the FoVea travel grant pushed me set up and prepare for networking meetings – something I do not know I would have had the courage to do otherwise. I made meaningful connections and will be continuing the conversations I started with both Drs. Isik and Konkle in the future. 


Anna McCarter

I am very grateful to have received a FoVea Travel and Networking Award to assist me with attending VSS this year. This was my first VSS and I’m happy to say it far exceeded my expectations. There were excellent, interesting posters and talks all day, and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing people in the field including Tim Brady and Wilma Bainbridge.

I met with Tim Brady in the courtyard during the coffee break on my first day at the conference. We started off talking about VSS and what it’s like. This was very helpful given that this was my first time at VSS. In addition, we talked about what other conferences visual memory researchers go to. It was informative to learn that Psychonomics and VSS are the main ones. After discussing conferences, we delved into my current project on the visual testing effect. I was happy to hear that Tim agrees with my hypothesis about our data (that the testing effect relies on a prior knowledge structure). In addition, I introduced my dissertation idea to him and got some useful pointers including the suggestion to use a response wheel which is quite fitting. Overall, Tim and I had a great conversation, and it was nice to see him around throughout the rest of the conference.

I met with Wilma Bainbridge during the coffee break on Monday. Since my dissertation will involve drawing as an encoding strategy, we spent a lot of our time discussing the logistics of drawing such as what tablets are best, potential movement challenges with older adults, and what to use as a control condition. It was great to learn about all of this from someone who has literally written the guide on using drawings experimentally. She also recommended that I speak with Jeff Wammes given his expertise in this area. (I ended up having a wonderful meeting with him shortly after VSS.) Wilma and I also had a great conversation about being an academic with kids since Wilma just had twins. It’s encouraging to hear that it’s doable to have an academic career and be a mom. Overall, Wilma and I had a very productive conversation and I really enjoyed getting to know her.

Having the opportunity to speak with these experts in the field was really impactful. The actual conversations that we had were very useful and encouraging. Beyond that, I now feel more confident reaching out to other researchers to request a meeting and I think I will spend a lot more time networking at future conferences. Overall, this experience was very informative and empowering. 


Sanika Paranjape

I am now finishing the second year of my PhD at The George Washington University, and I was able to attend my second ever Vision Sciences Society (VSS). I selected Dr. Marlene Behrmann and Dr. Nancy Kanwisher as my networking targets, both of whom are incredibly accomplished researchers in the field of vision science. The thought of meeting with them was intimidating but exciting, and they both agreed right away to serve as my networking targets. 

VSS is a wonderful yet overwhelming experience, as commiserated by Dr. Behrmann during our chat. As soon as we met, she mentioned how inundated she was by the amount of information there is to take in, with so many posters and talk sessions throwing data at you every day. I was grateful to hear that such an experienced and well-known scientist can still have these feelings in a conference environment. We both agreed that the best part of these conferences is the chance to reconnect with friends we haven’t seen in a while, as well as meet new people and learn about the many different projects happening in the field. Dr. Behrmann and I also talked about scientific summer academies, which is another fantastic way to build your network and get an in-depth learning experience for a few weeks.

I recently decided to pivot research projects when I realized my first project wasn’t working as planned. I shared this struggle with Dr. Kanwisher, who noted that this happens often in everyone’s science journeys. As she said, we must mope and then quickly move on to make new progress. We talked about what direction I am planning to go in for my new study, and she was able to give me some suggestions on ways to improve it. I also told her how I am still debating between going into industry versus staying in academia. She gave me some great advice on ways to build my skill set in ways that would help me whichever direction I choose, such as making sure my coding skills are strong.

FoVea has created such an incredible opportunity for me and other women in science. Without this, I would not have worked up the courage to contact others in the field and had a chance to talk to and learn from these amazing scientists. Having FoVea as a reason to reach out has likely already made so many strong networking connections, both for those who receive the award and those who do not, which is integral for all early career researchers.


Tess White

As a first year graduate student, I find myself rather small in a very big pond. I come to find that reaching out to other labs can be rather intimidating, especially when they fall out of my research circle. That’s why I took the leap at asking to meet with Dr. Marisa Carrasco at NYU and Dr. Cathleen Moore at the University of Iowa. This award gave me the confidence and support to meet with these people and make the most out of my short time in Florida. 

I first met with Dr. Cathleen Moore. We started off our meeting talking about my current work on perceptual organization, a topic she is deeply invested in. While discussing how I ended up studying what I currently study, we were reminded that work I did as an undergrad was actually heavily based on some work she did several years prior. I was able to find my old poster PDF for that project and she and I spent close to an hour discussing what we thought could be happening perceptually. She heavily encouraged me to continue that line of research and write a manuscript based on it. Overall, we plan to meet again in the future and continue to nurture this new connection. 

Due to time constraints and a family emergency, I was unable to meet with Dr. Carrasco during the conference, but she and I are still in contact and plan to meet virtually in the upcoming weeks. As a bonus however, I was able to meet with Dr. Viola Stoermer at Dartmouth University. She and I discussed less of the science side at the very beginning, and tended to focus the first half of our conversation on what it means to be a woman in a STEM career. She also explained the reasoning behind her lab’s move from California to Dartmouth, and what had to happen logistically for that move. For the second half of our conversation, we talked about perceptual warping when it comes to attention. As my current work pertains to phenomenological expansion and shrinkage, I was able to get her feedback on how the role of attention might be playing a role in that. Overall, our meeting was highly successful. 

I would highly recommend those that are still in the early phases of their careers, especially those who are first or second year grad students to reach out and make those connections as early as possible. While it can be super intimidating to forge those connections at first, getting on people’s radar can only serve as a benefit to you.


2022 FoVea Travel and Networking Award Recipients


Avi Aizenman

As a first-year postdoc, I found myself questioning how to make the most of the current opportunities at my disposal, and how best to balance my time in lab between research, mentorship, grant writing, and applications, alongside life outside the lab. For my networking plan, I met with Professor Jenny Read, and Professor Anya Hurlbert, both female scientists who have managed robust and fruitful careers in academia and whose research interests align with my own. 

I ended up meeting with Professor Read twice. In our first meeting, we discussed the questions from my networking plan, which ended up being incredibly fruitful! Professor Read shared her views on balancing research with other responsibilities in and out of the lab. She additionally shared tips for mentorship and resources that have helped her become a better mentor over the years. Professor Read also shared the reality of her journey starting a lab as an independent PI with young children, and the challenges (and joys) of this process. In our second meeting, Professor Read and I had a lively discussion about future directions for a research project, which ended up being very helpful!

My meeting with Professor Hurlbert was fascinating! She described many different opportunities and funding structures in the UK for young researchers which I didn’t know about. Professor Hurlbert additionally discussed balancing research with a family, and the unique struggles she faced as a female PI. It was useful to hear from her about pitfalls to avoid in mentorship relationships, and skills to pursue to help refine my leadership abilities. 

This was an incredible opportunity to meet and learn from other female researchers! In the past, I have been hesitant to email researchers I’ve never met before, and this experience has shown me that our community is full of scientists eager to meet, and to share advice. Thank you to FoVea for taking the time and care to create this program, and to the networking targets for sharing their time! 


Jasmine Awad

I am a first-generation Latina-Middle Eastern graduate doctoral student in my 4th year at the University of Washington. My interests lie in improving and promoting accessibility and equity in learning through the development of technologies for differently-abled populations. In particular,  my current research is designed to understand the observed performance gap seen in mathematical achievement between Deaf/Hard-of-hearing students and their hearing peers by exploring differences in cognitive processes (such as working memory and the visual spatial sketchpad) and potential visual attentional bottlenecks in Sign Language users during learning. As a minority in my field, I understand the importance of visibility and of reaching for opportunities whenever they are available. With that in mind, I’ve used the opportunity afforded by the FoVea Travel Award to reach out to two senior scientists with research that aligns with my own interests and experiences as women in science that I can learn from: Dr. Marisa Carrasco & Dr. Ella Striem-Amit. I arranged to have lunch with each of them and truly enjoyed my one-on-one experience. 

The first lunch I had at VSS was with Dr. Ella Striem-Amit. She is a successful Middle Eastern researcher and is the head of the Sensory and Motor Plasticity lab at Georgetown University. Her research focuses on cognition and neuroplasticity in individuals with sensory deprivation (blind and Deaf) as well as motor deprivation. This lunch was followed by another lunch with Dr.Marisa Carrasco, who is a well-known and successful Latina researcher in the field of visual attention and head of the Carrasco Lab at NYU. Her research focuses on exploring the effects of attentional mechanisms on visual processing in both neurotypical and special populations. During these lunches, we talked in depth about my background as a scientist and my research projects. Each network target was extremely encouraging and gave invaluable advice on the ways I can make my projects stronger. They also offered to connect me with more researchers with similar interests, so that I may receive more feedback from them and ultimately expand my network. One of the most enjoyable topics of these lunches other than research were about our lives, cultures, and families. The concept of networking felt so daunting before this process, and afterward I honestly felt so happy with how approachable, informative, and wonderful Dr. Carrasco and Dr. Striem-Amit were.

Both individuals I have selected for this application are strong, respected women in science – someone I aspire to be – who use their research to not only understand the human brain but also to improve accessibility and equity in a variety of fields such as rehabilitation and learning. Before applying for this award, I would have never felt brave or capable enough to introduce myself to these researchers, let alone hold a conversation with them. This award offered me the push I needed to start networking, and also gave me the confidence I need to maintain networking habits in the future. Thank you, FoVea, for this award and opportunity!


Angelica Godinez

As I reflect on the application process and meeting with my networking targets: Rowan Candy and Karen Adolph, I am reminded of the power in creating the application in the first place. After I submitted the application, my networking targets and I had already agreed to meet even if I did not get the award, which I’m sure is the case for many who apply. Furthermore, writing the application helped me prepare and ask more targeted questions during the meetings— an approach I hope to continue during my career.

I met Rowan in the courtyard under the blazing sun during one of the lunch periods at VSS. We began by talking about my current research and experience as a first-year postdoctoral researcher. This conversation naturally led us deep into scientific topics and into the feasibility of testing such questions in development. I was surprised to know that there are areas in development that are more straightforward to measure such as reflexive sensory responses compared to areas or questions that require more inference to drawn from the researcher. In hindsight, it makes sense, but it was good to hear it from an expert. From there, Rowan gave me some tips for where to seek further information and to be discerning about using an emerging technology for the sake of popularity versus using it to advance understanding in a field. 

Since Karen did not attend VSS, I met with her shortly after the meeting via zoom. Very similar to my meeting with Rowan, my conversation with Karen began with my research and general interest in meeting with her. After that, we dove right into the science. Karen pointed out that there are generally three different developmental approaches: epistemological, child psychology and comparative psychology. Her take on the different approaches and how one would ask a question in each made me wonder what kind of developmental approach I would like to take and whether I can formulate my questions in a way that best aligns with that approach. From there, I asked about her journey into development and the range of studies she runs. I already knew that she was an amazing researcher but listening to the range of work that she is currently involved in makes her that much more apparent. 

Overall, my meeting(s) with Rowan and Karen left me inspired and with a lot to think about. I am very grateful to have gone through this experience— I will use it as a model for future networking targets. My conversation(s) with Rowan and Karen ended with the understanding that I will reach out to them whenever I need scientific or career guidance. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. 


Shui’Er Han

Much thanks to FoVea for organizing this award and for granting me the opportunity. Forging connections and collaborative relationships are important components of a research career, but I have always found it intimidating to reach out to scientists beyond my immediate research circle. The FoVea Travel and Networking award has benefited me immensely in this end, as it pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me consider the directions where I want to take my research. These benefits have been timely, as being a postdoc, I am at the point in my career where I need to start establishing research independence. In addition, the institute I will be based at next year does not have a large vision science community, so establishing a network through the award will help to keep my research centrally within vision science. 

My networking plan was to meet Drs. Daphne Maurer and Allison Sekuler, who both have a record of successful mentorship and are respected experts in their respective fields of visual development and ageing vision. As I am interested in using some of my Virtual Reality (VR) tasks to study perceptual changes across the lifespan, I was hoping to gain some advice regarding research in child development and ageing vision, and if possible, establish a collaborative relationship. I met with Dr Maurer during VSS 2022, and during the meeting, we discussed the possibility and the challenges of a VR task in children. Dr Maurer kindly provided me with some useful tips and agreed to provide consultation for the developmental aspects of a study I am currently planning. Due to scheduling conflicts, I am working out a suitable meeting time with Dr Sekuler. However, Dr Sekuler has been supportive in our communications thus far, and I am sure it would be a rewarding experience. 

Apart from my networking targets, I also had the fortune of meeting Drs. Krystel Huxlin and Gabriel Diaz at VSS 2022. Dr Huxlin is known for her work on the rehabilitation of visual function in stroke patients, whereas Dr Diaz is an expert on the visual guidance of action and is very familiar with technologies such as VR and motion capture. Having taken the step out of my comfort zone, it became easier for me to communicate with experts outside my immediate circle. I was impressed at the versatility of VR as a tool and learnt a lot from the intellectual discussion. 

I would encourage any female early career vision researcher to apply for this award. Regardless of the outcome, the experience of applying would give you the confidence and provide some clarity in what you’d want for your career. From my experience, I found that senior scientists are generally supportive of early career development, so even the act of reaching out while preparing the application would potentially put you in contact with a future collaborator and mentor.


Simran Purokayastha

My research so far has covered a wide range of topics but have all been guided by a wish to see my work have not just scientific, but human impact. As I near the end of my PhD and am deciding the next step in my career (not just in academia, but potentially outside of it), I wanted to seek out and learn from diverse perspectives, and that’s the reason I applied for this opportunity. My networking plan involved meeting with Dr. Krystel Huxlin (University of Rochester (UoR)) and Dr. Preeti Verghese (Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute (SKERI)), whose research interests dovetail with mine and who are both well-established female scientists with unique career trajectories. With both, I discussed science in some detail, but a lot of our conversation – only snippets of which I cover below – was focused on third variables that impact our science. 

With Dr. Huxlin, our conversation began with what factors led her to choose basic science research over medical practice, which was her initial training. That led to a discussion of how she balances her medical training, research interests, and industry applications in developing her current research philosophy. I also wanted to know more about her thoughts on continuing in academia, versus industry. She succinctly summarized what would be important to a career in academia (enjoying writing: not just research papers, but grants; and openness to ideas) and the primary advantage: flexibility. Her suggestion for choosing between the two was to plan for the long term and evaluate the best fit for one’s personality. Her parting, encouraging advice was that I didn’t have to choose one over another: “you can do anything!”. 

With Dr. Verghese, I was particularly interested in her journey in science from India to the US and any unique challenges she faced along the way. These prompts led to discussions on the realities of doing science in India versus the US, particularly in the light of individual family circumstances and our respective lived experiences, and how to give back to science in India while working in the US. Dr. Verghese’s primary suggestion was to build a mentoring circle consisting of people who know you well, who had experience in their respective fields, and who have your best interests at heart. Talk of mentoring led to conversations about mentoring styles and working on making science more inclusive, something I am passionate about. These exchanges led to a discussion of the work environment at SKERI and what someone applying to do a postdoc there should consider. Another helpful nudge from Dr. Verghese was to seriously consider applying for a K-99 if looking to pursue a postdoc (particularly useful since it’s a source of funding open to all nationalities).

Overall, this concerted effort at building connections and establishing – to borrow Dr. Verghese’s term – a mentoring circle was extremely useful. Being able to interact with senior scientists at length allowed me to engage deeply not just with their scientific interests, but also to connect with them on more human terms, and that makes such exchanges invaluable.


Sophia Robert

I am very grateful to have been granted the Fovea Networking and Travel award this year to attend my 2nd in-person meeting of VSS. I’m currently finishing up my second year of graduate school and at a critical juncture as I am shifting research directions and starting to set the foundation for my thesis work. Facing many decisions and not quite having a concrete plan for my trajectory through graduate school and beyond, I wanted to use the Fovea award as an opportunity to practice professional networking with outstanding women scientists at different stages in their careers and gain insight into the professional and personal decisions that led them to where they are today. Preparing the networking plan was an instructive exercise in itself because it required being more intentional about explicitly formulating the goals of my meetings and ensuring that they aligned with the experience and expertise of my networking targets. 

For the 2022 VSS meeting, I selected Dr. Wilma Bainbridge and Dr. Marisa Carrasco as my networking targets. I asked Dr. Bainbridge to meet with me because I was interested in her seminal research on memorability and mental imagery and her recent transition to assistant professorship at University of Chicago. During our meeting, we discussed how she came to stake a claim in memorability research from her background in robotics and her experience working in a research lab in Japan, where we both have family. I also learned about her process setting up a lab as a new PI at a big research university and her approach to developing some of the creative research techniques that she shared in her VSS talk session. 

I selected Dr. Carrasco as a networking target because she is a renowned expert in psychophysical behavioral experimentation and visual attention, she interests me as a future postdoctoral advisor, and she has experience teaching at both small liberal arts and large research institutions. Serendipitously, while preparing for this application and learning more about the relevance of Dr. Carrasco’s work to my interests, Dr. Carrasco was awarded the Carnegie Mind and Brain Sciences Prize in recognition of her contributions to vision science and neuroscience and psychology more broadly. Attached to the Carnegie Prize is a graduate student fellowship that is meant to facilitate networking and collaboration between Dr. Carrasco and a CMU graduate student. I applied for and was lucky to be awarded this fellowship. During our meeting at VSS, we were able to touch base about the overlap in our research interests and potential projects and ideas for future collaboration. I also learned more about her path through academia and her experience teaching and researching at different kinds of institutions. 

I want to thank FoVea for this opportunity as I otherwise might not have had the drive and structure to make these connections at this stage in my life. Learning how to prepare for these conversations and cultivate professional relationships at this stage in my education is invaluable because they will only become more important as I progress through my career. With this experience under my belt, I have more confidence to make such networking efforts on my own in the future and that is very empowering as a woman in science.


2021 FoVea Travel and Networking Award Recipients


Sarah Cormiea

I have been attending VSS for years and I still find that I get something new out of it every  single time. As a young research assistant, VSS was my first-ever conference. There was so much  science to absorb; I goggled at the endless sea of posters and listened to interesting talks that I could only mostly understand. Over time VSS transformed into a comfortable and familiar place, an  annual reunion for academic friends and colleagues spread out all over the world. Going through the  FoVea Award application process made me realize the strength and generosity of the VSS  community all over again. Both of the people I contacted immediately agreed to networking  meetings (whether or not I actually won the award). Taking part in this opportunity has helped  dispel any fears I might have had about reaching out to others in the future. 

My first meeting was with Wilma Bainbridge, who studies interactions between perception  and memory. She recently started a faculty position at the University of Chicago. We discussed her  strategies for navigating postdoc life, setting up a new lab, and designing a long-term research  program. Her research examines people’s drawings as a naturalistic window into their experiences  and memories. I use free-form verbal descriptions of environmental odors for a similar reason. I was  delighted to hear that she remembered a talk I gave a few years ago at a small workshop. This led to a spirited discussion about some interesting parallels between her work on image memorability and  my research into odor nameability. She also helped me brainstorm tons of new experiment ideas and possible research threads.  

Next, I met with Chris Baker, who runs a lab at the NIMH. He studies how neural  representations of visual stimuli change with learning and experience. This meeting made me  realized how different government research labs can be from academic ones. Because the timescale  of projects is different, he feels empowered to take on high-risk/high-reward projects that might not  be possible on an academic timeclock. This was great information for me to consider as I move  forward through my career. We also talked about his work showing how perceptual representations  of images unfold over time to give rise to recognizable objects. When I begin a postdoc position this  fall, I will be using EEG to study a similar phenomenon in olfactory perception. He kindly offered  to meet again in the future if I had questions once my projects were underway.  

VSS has always been a venue to share research, learn from peers, look at illusions, and party  by the beach. This year I also got to experience the amazing community of scholars willing to support early career researchers and women in the sciences. I cannot thank the FoVea committee  enough for giving me this opportunity.


Catherine Dowell

Dr. Fajen and I met on May 24th to discuss research interests and networking. First, Dr. Fajen asked about my VSS presentation and asked that I walk him through the study and how I came to do the study since he couldn’t attend the poster session live the next day. I told him that Dr. Hajnal suggested the project and using Gibson’s feelies because he had always thought they would make interesting stimuli, he knew I was interested in 3-D shape perception, and that it would be a good way to introduce me to the new topic of affordance perception while still working with something I had experience with (3-D objects). I walked him through the project and answered some of his questions about the study and its implications. Afterward, we discussed studying affordance learning, which is the topic of my in-progress dissertation and something that Dr. Fajen is currently interested in and is very knowledgeable about. We talked about how perception does have to include affordances, but affordances can be very useful when studying perceptual tasks, especially in applied research. We also discussed the process of attunement, Dr. Fajen’s research on the subject, and my interest in studying attunement of affordances in older adults, a topic that I plan to pursue in the future. Finally, we talked about how networking virtually is very different from in-person networking but that the key is still to be unafraid to simply approach people and start up a conversation or arrange for a meet-up. Dr. Fajen asked if there was anyone I’d like him to introduce me to, and when I said I wasn’t sure who he knew, we talked about people he thought I might like to meet and if I was already acquainted with them. For example, he thought I should meet Flip Phillips, and I told him I had met Flip at a past VSS but had not had any contact with him since. Dr. Fajen said he knew Flip well and would connect with him about reaching out to me. We spent the remainder of the hour talking about V-VSS and the interesting talks/posters we encountered. 

Dr. Todd and I met on June 1st to discuss research, career development, and networking. At his request, I briefly relayed my research history, current projects, and plans for the future. We talked about how I had gotten into affordance research (a new area for me at the time) since entering my doctoral program and how the concept of affordance has evolved from what it originally was. We both agreed that the idea of affordances was underdeveloped when it first came about but that it has recently been expanded upon and elaborated, which has allowed it to be used to answer some very important questions in perception research. I then explained my idea for my dissertation, and Dr. Todd offered suggestions. Finally, we discussed networking and the importance of forming collaborations with people my age who could support and challenge me as we develop our careers as researchers.


Haydée G Garcia Lazaro

The FoVEA Travel and Networking Award was an incredible experience for me this year. Networking with two senior scientists who I admired and are role models has impacted my career in a very positive way. Last year, I moved from Germany to San Francisco to start my postdoc during one of the highest COVID pandemic peaks. Given the circumstances, I soon realized that I would have very limited contact with my peers and senior scientists at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute and minimal networking in-person opportunities at the upcoming conferences. Therefore receiving the FoVEA award meant a lot for my career this year. Thanks to FoVEA, I had the opportunity to discuss my research with two prominent scientists in my field and get invaluable feedback and recommendations on how to navigate the academic world.

I met Dr Heida Maria Sigurdardottir, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Iceland, at the very beginning of the VSS meeting. It was a very supportive and fruitful talk. She gave me feedback about my poster and project and encouraged me to expand my research in several lines. She also shared her knowledge about visual perception and attention and statistical regularities in vision, and we discussed how to apply these principles to my research in auditory perception. We also shared knowledge and experiences running online experiments as an alternative to on-site measurements during these difficult COVID times. Our talk prolonged more than we expected, but it was very motivating, and it reassured me of my reasons to pursue my career in Academia. I’m very grateful to Heida for being so generous with her time and being a great scientist, and a very friendly and enlightening person. 

My meeting with Dr Ione Fine, Head of the Vision and Cognition Group at the University of Washington, happened during the last days of the VSS meeting. It was very productive and supportive; we went through my CV and my career plans, and I got valuable advice on the main assets and skills needed to succeed in Academia. I also received from Dr Fine many helpful strategies for obtaining funding and becoming an independent researcher in the American system. Our conversation was like a bit of a tour of navigating the academic world and do not die in the middle of it. She was a very supportive and authentic model of dealing with challenges in academic environments and daily life. Her vibe and enthusiasm were and are highly inspiring! She opened the door to continue our mentoring process during my future plans. I am very grateful to her for this, and of course, I am planning to take the chance to do it.

I am also very thankful for the FoVEA award and all that it represents. It was an enlightening experience for me, and it also helped me realize the benefits of networking whenever and wherever possible. My take-home message is that we have to take or create such opportunities when they are not there because networking is essential during all stages of our career. While the idea of FoVEA networking is not exclusive to meeting female scientists, it is very encouraging to know that there are great female scientists out there pushing to create a fairer and equate academic system for everybody.


Hanna Haponenko

When I think about how I want my professional life to look like, I see myself as a scientist first, product designer second, managing my own employees third. Choosing to pursue a PhD to understand more about how people focus on objects and locations in 3D space, I began to see my skills as transferable to other domains in industry. Yearning for some commercial experience, I developed a company, called Axcessiom Technologies, in my early PhD years by designing facial gesture recognition tools for an advanced driving assistance system (see At my core, I want to make people’s lives easier, more accessible, and overall, more fun. 

My intermingled interests in basic science research and application-heavy industry projects influenced my decision to reach out to Dr. Laurie Wilcox and Dr. David Brainard, two highly active scientists with multifaceted backgrounds. I was hoping they could give me some clarity about what road I should take post-PhD. 

Dr. Laurie Wilcox, head of the 3D Perception & Psychophysics Laboratory at York University, shared her experiences of navigating the high-calibre research field of three-dimensional depth perception. When I asked Laurie about her work with industry partners such as IMAX and Christie, VESA, and Qualcomm Canada, she expressed excitement about being able to design and develop projects involving 3D film, virtual and augmented reality, and image quality. With her expertise, people worldwide have been able to perceive 3D films and VR objects free of visible compression-related artefacts. Laurie and I also spoke about the freedom that basic research gives scientists. In a commercial setting, individuals are often faced with the pressure of pumping out results at a faster pace than what can be afforded by the meticulous nature of academic research. In the world of basic research, however, Laurie was able to manage her own lab, dictate the goals of her own projects, and set her own schedule. 

Dr. David Brainard, the RRL Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Vision Research Center at UPenn, shared his diverse history of dabbling in fields of physics, electrical engineering, and cognitive sciences. A piece of advice David gave me when I told him I was interested in both industry and academia was encouraging me to do what I love while thinking about the general architecture for what jobs in which I may excel. Both academic and industry positions, at the senior levels, necessitate manage students or employees and a multitude of projects. However, like Laurie, David found that one of his favourite milestones in life was starting up a lab as a junior researcher, a slice of time that came with infinite possibilities and potentials.

Reflecting on my conversations with Laurie and David, I feel nudged to decide. Should I enter a post-doc? Should I continue down the commercial route? Whatever happens in the next few months, I know I’ll be doing what I love. At the end of the day, and as cliché as it may sound, that’s all that really matters to me. 


Zoey Isherwood

I am a postdoctoral scholar, and my research primarily involves using fMRI to study perception, natural scene statistics, and colour vision. Given that I am currently on my second postdoc position, I am also at the stage of seeking out more permanent roles as a researcher. The FoVea Travel and Networking Award has given me the opportunity to discuss my research as well as this career transition with senior scientists, Dr. Linda Henriksson and Dr. Cheryl Olman. 

In regards to discussing our shared research interests, it was great to get a fresh perspective on some of the research questions I have been tackling. Also, given the high level of expertise my networking targets have in multivariate pattern analysis and laminar fMRI, this was a great opportunity for me to reach out and collaborate with senior scientists—which was a first for me. This has granted me the opportunity to expand my analysis skillset along with fostering the development of domestic and international collaborations.

It was also extremely beneficial to hear how my networking targets transitioned to more senior positions as researchers. I seldom hear stories from female senior scientists of how they got to where they are today, so it was great to hear what each of their journeys were like. It became more tangible as to what this path may look like for myself, and I was also given a lot of great advice on what I should and should not do along the way.

I want to reiterate how grateful I am for the opportunity that the FoVea Travel and Networking Award has granted me. The award provides an excellent opportunity and context for junior scientists to approach and network with senior scientists. The award has certainly increased my confidence in approaching senior scientists for advice. It has also granted me a more open line of communication with top researchers in the field of vision science, whether that be for general advice or for future collaborations.


Crista Kuuramo

I am a PhD student midway to completing my degree, so applying for FoVea networking award was a perfect catalyst to start meeting researchers in my field and learning more about applying to postdoc positions after graduating. At first, the idea of reaching out to senior scientist seemed a bit daunting; I was unsure whether my networking targets were going to respond let alone agree to meet with me. However, the meetings turned out better than expected and the experience was altogether positive.

My first networking target was Dr. Paul Bays, who is a principal investigator at the Computational Cognition Group from the University of Cambridge, Department of Psychology. Although the meeting felt somewhat constrained at first, we quickly continued to talk about our common research interest: visual working memory (VWM). Dr. Bays is a veteran in VWM, so this was a very valuable opportunity for me to obtain feedback about my research. Specifically, we talked about deterioration of VWM representations and exchanged ideas about its possible mechanisms. I got some useful tips on improving my current research and how to take it forward. Next, we talked about what is needed to succeed as a postdoctoral applicant. I learned that it is okay to branch out outside your PhD topic when looking for a postdoc position, but it is helpful to familiarize oneself with the research of the group you are applying to. As this was a first meeting with a senior scientist outside my immediate research group, I did not really know what to expect, and I could have been more prepared for the meeting. Meeting Dr. Bays, however, helped me to push my comfort zone and left me more confident for the next meeting.

My second networking target was Dr. Wilma Bainbridge, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. She recently opened her own lab, so I was eager to meet a successful young female scientist who I regard as an academic inspiration. At first, we talked about how a method that I have used in my research (classification images) could be implemented to study image memorability, a primary research topic of Professor Bainbridge, and we even discussed a possible collaboration. Next, we continued to talk about our experiences of the global pandemic and how it has affected data collection and other aspects of our work. The conversation continued organically to many different topics ranging from cultural differences in academia between Europe and the US, the challenges of being a female scientist, and work-life balance. This time I was a bit more prepared, which helped me to get more out of the meeting.

All in all, this experience was very valuable as it showed me that meeting even senior scientist is easier than you would think. I am very grateful for the opportunity and recommend everyone reaching out to researchers in your field, even if you do not apply for this award.


Yih-Shiuan Lin

During the previous years of my PhD life, there were times that I felt lost and bewildered planning the next steps of my career and would really like to seek  advices and opinions from more experienced researchers. Therefore, I am extremely  honored and grateful for being awarded the FoVea 2021 Travel and Networking Award which grants me the precious opportunity to meet two senior scientists, Prof.  Zhaoping Li and Prof. Radoslaw Martin Cichy. Both professors agreed to and  supported my networking plan immediately after I reached them. I met them both  before V-VSS 2021 began, allowing me to receive their feedbacks on my poster  presentation in advance. 

I met Prof. Li twice online. During our first meeting shortly before the poster  uploading deadline, she made invalueable suggestions on how I could improve the  contents of my poster and pre-recorded video tour. I will never forget her advice on explaining one’s work to the extend that “even a dentist can understand your  research”. Another memorable moment of the meeting came when Prof. Li, a well established scientist, invited me, a junior researcher still struggling with her PhD  study, to give feedbacks on her own presentation. At that moment, Prof. Li demonstrated how to be truly open-minded to welcome and cherish opinions from  anyone regardless of status and experience. In our second meeting, we discussed  topics on how to gain insights in data by visualizing them, better ways to analyze the  eye-tracking data, and modeling psychophysics results. 

After a short briefing of my PhD work, the meeting with Prof. Cichy first  concentrated on my fMRI experiment regarding how to better define regions of  interests, what to do when faced with unequal trial numbers, ideas to apply a  searchlight multivariate pattern analysis, and what possible comments from  reviewers I might receive and thus should prepare for. We switched the focus of our  meeting in the second half instead to advices on building an academic career. Prof.  Cichy shared his opinions and suggestions about the importance of having passion  for your research, the benefits of working with well-known PI/laboratory, and the  possibility of making advocates and contribution in open science as a selling point  when one searches for a job instead of just a personal choice. At the end of the  meeting, Prof. Cichy pointed me to some research hubs in differen countries if I want  to apply for a position in visual neuroscience. 

I really appreciate the time both professors were willing to spend on our fruitful meetings. I have learned a great deal from their advices and insights and both of  them offered future networking opportunities. My two network targets are great role  models devoting in guiding and helping researchers in their early career stage. I can  only hope that one day I could return the favor by adapting and bringing their positive  attitudes and enthusiasm to offering guidance for someone in need.


Melisa Menceloglu

The FoVea travel and networking award presents a rare opportunity to formally meet and interact with prominent scientists in the field. Specifically, I chose to network with Dr. Jody Culham (Western University, Canada) and Dr. Yaffa Yeshurun (University of Haifa, Israel), both of whom have expertise in areas that are closely related to my research interests. In addition to discussing research, I appreciated the opportunity to hear from two successful women scientists and find inspiration in their productive careers. On a more personal note, both Dr. Culham and Dr. Yeshurun have studied in the US and started their labs in their home countries. I was especially eager to hear about their experience on this topic as I am also considering a similar path. 

With Dr. Culham, I discussed my ideas for a new project where I plan to study the EEG-based neural correlates of temporally precise motor preparation of goal-directed eye and hand movements as well as an ongoing project where I study the ability to estimate the position of a moving object behind an occluder. She gave me valuable advice on both projects, helping me interpret some of my findings and suggesting follow-up experiments for the ongoing motion estimation project, and also raising some important points and suggesting control conditions for the new temporal motor preparation project. In addition to research, I appreciated her input on career development topics including how to approach the job market and the application process, how to find opportunities to network, and how to be resilient when running your own lab. Lastly, she shared some of her fun graduate school memories that she had with my PhD advisor Satoru Suzuki, which I greatly enjoyed:) 

With Dr. Yeshurun, I discussed my work on temporal orienting of attention and her recent work where she examined the time course of temporal orienting of attention and established the limits around this ability in a painstaking series of experiments. I was excited to hear more about this work directly form the expert herself as I have been interested in similar questions and the potential extensions/modifications to this limit under different attentional contexts. Additionally Dr. Yeshurun also helped me interpret my somewhat weird findings in the motion estimation project. Dr. Yeshurun also gave me valuable advice on career development including how to form productive collaborations and their importance, and some important considerations about moving back to one’s home country and building a research lab and a career there.

Overall, I very much appreciated this opportunity and recommend it to others who are considering applying! 


Samantha Montoya

Without the FoVea Networking and Travel Award, I would have been very intimidated to initiate networking with senior vision scientists. This award provided the impetus to contact Drs. Ione Fine, Fang Jiang, and Allison McKendrick. The ability to virtually meet one-on-one with these senior researchers has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I am a second-year neuroscience graduate student, and this opportunity came while planning my thesis project, preparing to submit an F31 application, and approaching my preliminary oral exams. I chose to network with Drs. Ione Fine and Dr. Fang Jiang because of their expertise in visual perception and neuroimaging research in populations with sensory loss and their commitment to supporting women in science. I also contacted Dr. Allison McKendrick because of her research on Visual Snow Syndrome—a neurological condition resulting in the perception of flickering dots spanning the entire visual field at all times—which will be the focus of my thesis work. Dr. McKendrick was exploring the Australian Outback during the virtual VSS 2021 Conference, but we are planning to meet over Zoom later this summer. 

Dr. Jiang and I talked about various topics including plans for my thesis work, career goals and her experiences as a vision scientist. She was able to offer advice about scanning participants with sensory impairments, tips for contacting senior scientists about their relevant research, and how to find a career that’s a good fit. A couple of these career paths included teaching at a small liberal-arts college, which may provide more flexibility, or programming to improve digital accessibility, which is something I’m passionate about as a person with a visual disability myself. I hadn’t seriously considered either of these paths until our conversation. 

In my meeting with Dr. Fine, we also discussed my current thesis plans and potential careers that take advantage of both my neuroscience and studio art degrees; I could pursue the illustration of children’s science books or coloring books. Dr. Fine emphasized the importance of enjoying my research and not worrying too much about what’s to come—be that my upcoming prelims or my long-term career path. She also offered to put me in contact with other researchers at the University of Washington who might be able to offer advice about my thesis work.

These conversations allowed me to consider alternative career paths and establish connections with female vision scientists outside of my university. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet these successful female role models so early in my career. Receiving the FoVea Networking and Travel Award was a very valuable experience — I hope to be involved in future FoVea events to help others access the same opportunities.


Samoni Nag

This year at VSS, I was in my 3rd year as a PhD student—the sweet spot between being labeled a “junior” and “senior” grad student. I devoted much of the first half of my graduate program to attending and teaching classes, developing new technical skillsets, and delving into the writing process/creating research products. That said, I neglected to have meaningful conversations about post-graduate opportunities. Having received a FoVea travel award during this foray from “junior” to “senior” graduate student, I used this as an opportunity to contemplate and discuss paths moving forward.      

I met with Jeremy Wolfe of Harvard Medical School, and we touched on a variety of topics including my current research using a “big data” visual search dataset and collaborations with the Army Research Labs (ARL), what-to-do after graduate school (both within and outside of academia), various types of mentorship models, and timelines for which I should consider as I approach the end of graduate school. Jeremy highlighted the fact that “now” is the time for which I should begin to think about next steps in my career. Whether I decide to stay in academia or go into industry, I should have a clear sense of whether I want to remain research-based or not. At this point, we discussed my lab’s collaborations with ARL, and the conversation took us to different research paths outside of a typical university setting. Jeremy also emphasized the dichotomy between transitioning from an academic to industry lane and vise-versa: There is difficulty in transitioning back into academia after having left but that is not necessarily the case when transitioning into industry after having been in academia for a while. I found this information to be insightful particularly because I am currently open to paths in academia and industry. The last bit of advice on this front I got was to really start engaging with others in the field at around the end of my 4th yeah (a year before defending my dissertation). Conversations and engagements that are fostered over time tend to result in the most productive networks and I will be carrying this advice with me. All in all, I found our discussion to be quite fruitful and I am grateful for Jeremy who has left his door open for us to continue this dialogue further as I progress through the rest of my trainee career. 

As we’ve all learned during the past year and a half, networking with anyone from anywhere is not as difficult as it once was. With ‘Zoom’ now added to our regular vocabulary, I believe that networking with other scientists in the field will be more accessible and more frequent. While I do enjoy attending VSS and networking there in-person, I hope that I and other trainee scientists will continue to use both avenues of networking moving forward. I would like to thank FoVea for giving me this opportunity to expand my network even though we had to do so in a virtual setting!   


Lynn Schmittwilken

Already at the early stages, networking is one of the most important components of a successful scientific career. However, as a female second-year graduate student, the prospect of networking can be very intimidating. For me, this year’s V-VSS 2021 was the first opportunity during my PhD to present my very own research and to get feedback from the community. Therefore, the announcement of the FoVea Travel and Networking award came just at the right moment in time. It helped me to explicitly think about where I see my PhD project, and in which direction I want it to evolve. Additionally, it helped me to clarify where exactly in my current research I might need additional expertise from outside my working group, and identify the people that could support me with this. Complimenting the expertise within my working group, I therefore decided to meet Prof. Dr. Robert Shapley from New York University and Prof. Dr. Michele Rucci from the University of Rochester to discuss my current research and get their advice on sensible next steps in my PhD. 

In our conversation, Robert Shapley and I focused on discussing the physiological foundations of my theoretical work in great depth. He gave me sensible advice on possible improvements when modeling early visual processes, and he pointed out some interesting test cases that I want to follow up in my future research endeavors. Additionally, we had a great discussion on how to build a long term scientific career and the relevance of networking in order to do so. I was looking forward to the meeting with Michele Rucci because his work on the relevance of spatiotemporal processing for visual perception lay the foundation for the research questions that I am interested in. During our conversation, he gave me valuable insights on the relationship between his and my work, and suggested some sensible next steps to advance my ideas. Additionally, we discussed the prospect of a collaboration between our labs to explicitly test some of our hypotheses experimentally. Overall, his insights were valuable to me both on a professional as well as personal level and strongly encouraged me to pursue my current research interests. 

Above all, I can only recommend applying to the FoVea award early in your career because it can help to get a clearer focus of your research goals and to get connected with the vision science community from the start. Personally, the award helped me to gain more confidence in my research and it empowered me to network more with established senior scientists. With this, I want to thank my networking targets Robert Shapley and Michele Rucci as well as my PhD supervisor Marianne Maertens and FoVea for their support and this great opportunity.


Lynn Sörensen

I’d like to pursue a post-doctoral position after my PhD, as the past years of doing research  have really fostered my curiosity and skills. Yet, with a pandemic turning the world upside  down, I grew more hesitant to take concrete steps towards this goal. I didn’t even know  where and how to start. Having a roadmap to setup a networking meeting through this award  was immensely helpful, and allowed me to reflect on my current questions and career  options. 

During v-VSS 2021, I was able to meet with my networking targets, Dr. Talia Konkle and  Prof. Dr. James DiCarlo. I was amazed by their genuine interest and their generosity towards  me, in taking the time to thoughtfully advise me on the next steps in my career. It was a true  pleasure to delve into scientific discussions with them, and to share observations I have made  during my own work. In particular, I wanted to ask for advice on how best to decide what to  focus on during my postdoc in terms of methods and topics. This led to two insightful  conversations, which have provided me with an intuition on how to manage the balance  between striving towards new directions one the one hand, while also staying close to the  topics I am most intrigued by on the other. Discussing these considerations directly with two  experts that successfully struck this balance in their own work was particularly helpful,  because it steered me towards thinking more long-term, a perspective that, as a PhD student, I  am not yet that used to take. 

I am very grateful to FoVea for creating this award and giving me this opportunity. These  networking meetings were an extremely valuable and positive experience for me and have given me more confidence as a female vision scientist to build up a professional network.  Prior to this application, I had not considered to set up such meetings myself. The experience gained through this award has taught me a number of new ways to create a professional  network, and that networking meetings can be particularly insightful and effective to achieve  this goal. 


Susanne Stoll

I used the FoVea networking opportunity as a springboard to connect with scientists whose research interests were bordering but not directly coinciding with mine. During my PhD, I investigated the short-term plasticity of topographic maps in the human visual brain. In doing so, I realized that studying any form of plasticity or change is complicated by phenomena like regression towards the mean which make an artifactual change look like a real phenomenon. When my PhD work came to a close, I furthermore realized that I would like to expand my line of research to multisensory integration and other sensory systems. As such, I reached out to Esther Kuehn whose research focuses on the somatosensory and ageing brain as well as Stephen Stigler who is an expert in the history of statistics and regression towards the mean. 

My conversations with Esther revolved around merging our research interests, a potential postdoc position in her group, research fellowship applications, and what it requires to kick-start periodical scientific gatherings. Esther also provided me with the opportunity to give a talk in one of her lab meetings, to join a symposium she founded recently, and to meet with some of her lab members to discuss their research projects. Along the way, she also found a way to fund a postdoc position and I have joined her team since. Overall, my networking experience with Esther was fantastic, giving me ample opportunity to evaluate whether working in her lab would be the right next step for me as a vision scientist. 

Stephen and I talked about a series of articles on regression towards the mean which he forwarded to me prior to our meeting. Before our chat, I also asked him for his opinion on a preprint on regression artifacts I had published recently and a corresponding poster I presented at VSS. His feedback made me realize that it might be worth simplifying some parts to make them more digestible for a broader audience. Stephen and I also discussed why regression artifacts are often overlooked and potentially hard to grasp. In light of this, I presented some ideas for future articles aimed at raising awareness of regression artifacts within the vision sciences and beyond. Stephen offered to provide me with feedback if I end up putting these ideas into writing. This is an excellent opportunity for me to approach regression artifacts from different angles, thus providing a more complete bigger picture view on the topic. 


2020 FoVea Travel and Networking Award Recipients


Hiu Mei (Doris) Chow

I would like to thank FoVea for giving me this award, which has motivated me to reach out to three professors at different career stages and trajectories (Drs. Marty Banks, Preeti Verghese, Jeremy Wilmer) to talk about career options and development. Chatting with my networking targets has essentially broadened my view of what networking should be—a mutual exchange of ideas, lived experiences, and stories. I am very grateful for their time and generosity. Below I will share a few lesson learned:

1. Know your reasons for connecting. You choose your networking targets and conversation topics depending on your whys. One clear distinction to make is whether you are looking for research-related or career-related advice. As an early postdoc in early 2020, I was interested in exploring various career options. Thus, I was looking for a variety of mentors when I compiled my list of networking targets. Many junior researchers (myself included) tend to shy away from explicit career conversations with senior researchers. I used to believe that it can make me look too ambitious (if I ask about career advancement) or not serious about research (if I talk about career exploration). But neither is (and should be) true. Only you know best what you need, so own your whys

2. Keep your conversations targeted but leave room for genuine exchange. Not everyone is comfortable with having one-on-one conversations, especially with senior scientists. How do you take control of your conversations? I learned that it is often a good idea to include a short self-introduction at the beginning, and be explicit about what I wanted to know. I also learned that the conversation could go in unexpected directions that create genuine connections. For example, one of my networking targets and I had a heartwarming conversation about infertility and family planning, which I believe is still largely ignored in academia. My suggestion is always to prepare, as motivated by a respect for other people’s time, but be open to see how the conversation goes!

3. Grow from it and find opportunities to get better at networking. Communication mistakes do happen, and there are things that I would have done differently now. This experience afforded by FoVea Award allows me to grow from my mistakes and prepares me for further networking. For example, I have since reached out to other researchers at other conferences and in different disciplines. I apply what I learn to connect with professionals beyond academia. Last but not least, I started my own ‘breakfast club,’ where I meet with two good scientist friends regularly to set goals and solve problems in our careers. A multitude of factors (e.g., being in a pandemic, growing up, and recognizing the importance of peer mentorship) motivated these initiatives, but applying for and getting the FoVea Award is definitely a great part of it. I highly recommend others to apply for the FoVea Travel and Networking Award and will be happy to connect with anyone considering it.


Claudia Damiano

I recently obtained my PhD from the University of Toronto and relocated to Belgium to begin a  postdoc position in the lab of Johan Wagemans. Being in Europe and meeting a new network of  researchers has been a great experience so far, but I was worried about being away from my  Canadian/North American network for too long. Thus, I wanted to take full advantage of this  opportunity to meet with researchers that I would not be able to meet by chance at a local  European conference. I reached out to Monica Castelhano, Emily Ward, John Henderson, and  Mike Dodd. They all responded enthusiastically and were happy to meet.  

Ultimately, my networking target was Monica Castelhano, from Queens University in Ontario,  Canada. The others were willing to meet with me but could not commit to being my networking  target because they were not planning to attend VSS.  

I met with Monica virtually during V-VSS and had a very fruitful conversation about my future  goals and how best to achieve them. As a Canadian currently working abroad, the idea of  eventually settling back in Canada has been on my mind a lot. For that reason, I wanted to ask  Monica about her perception of the Canadian academic job market at the moment and how  she predicts it will be over the next few years. I am grateful to Monica for sharing her thoughts  and experiences with me, even if it wasn’t always good news. For example, she spoke of several  job searches being cancelled due to COVID-19 (but she is hopeful that they will be reposted in  the coming years). Additionally, she gave me practical advice about writing a stand-out research  statement, and about the importance of letters of recommendation. We also briefly discussed  ideas for a new experiment I am developing, involving eye tracking. She helped me to refine my  research question, making it much easier to design the appropriate experiment going forward.  

I would like to thank Monica for the great meeting, and FoVea for providing young female  scientists with the opportunity to network with prominent researchers in the vision science  field. On a personal level, I benefited immensely from simply applying for this award. For  instance, Monica was willing to meet with me even if I did not win, and the other potential  networking targets I had contacted during the application process were also willing to have (virtual) meetings with me despite not being able to be my official networking targets. Overall,  this process taught me to not be so shy about reaching out to researchers I admire. Most are  happy to chat!


Catherine Manning

I was pleased that FoVea continued their ‘travel’ and networking award this year, despite the cancellation of the in-person meeting due to the pandemic. After working from home for over 3 months, I found the networking opportunities associated with this award particularly useful and I really appreciated the chance to talk about my research and career development with new people. The FoVea award came at an ideal time in my career as I have recently returned from a 12-month career break (maternity leave) and I am currently expanding my research on visual development in childhood into new areas such as perceptual decision-making and dyslexia. I chose my networking targets, Professor Deborah Giaschi and Dr Dobromir Rahnev, due to their expertise in these areas.

I discussed with Professor Giaschi about my current dyslexia research and her approach to this field. She suggested some areas of research that I had not previously considered and also offered some suggestions for tasks that might be possible to administer online, in light of current difficulties with in-person testing. We also picked up on a discussion we had started at VSS in 2018 about children experiencing motion in the opposite direction, and we are planning a collaboration to pursue this. We have also discussed the possibility of collaborative testing efforts when we are able to collect data from children again. Professor Giaschi kindly highlighted a relevant presentation at the virtual VSS conference, and talked with me about my career options. Two things that I found particularly useful were her suggestions to consider doing a systematic review to boost my CV, and that I might need to construct my own job opportunities, particularly in the post-pandemic job market. Professor Giaschi also pointed out some other scientists for further networking meetings.

I discussed with Dr Rahnev about my current diffusion modelling results in autistic and dyslexic children, and how to fit these with my EEG data. Being new to the field of perceptual decision-making, I found it invaluable hearing Dr Rahnev’s take on the current state of the field. One particularly useful insight was about how I should not necessarily expect a 1:1 mapping between my neural measures and model parameters, and that I shouldn’t take the diffusion model too literally. These insights will be helpful in interpreting and writing up my current results. Dr Rahnev kindly offered to look through drafts of my work, which will be really useful.

The experience of applying for a FoVea award really encouraged me to think carefully about what I could get out of networking meetings, and the networking experience was very positive (not at all awkward, as I sometimes fear it could be!). This will encourage me in future to set-up meetings to make the most of networking opportunities at VSS and other conferences. Thank you FoVea!


Emma Stewart

My FoVea networking meetings came at a time in my career when I was progressing from working primarily on my PI’s project to applying for, and ultimately working on and managing my own research grant. As such, it was an important time to form my own research network and connections, and both of my networking meetings were invaluable for this.

My first networking target was Ruth Rosenholtz, who I met with in 2020. A lot of my postdoc work focused on the integration of foveal and peripheral information across saccades, and during this time I have become more interested in the peripheral vision part of this process. As such, Ruth was the natural choice to discuss peripheral perception! At our meeting we discussed some recent data I had collected, and Ruth gave me some great ideas for further analyses. This meeting acted as a starting point for me to keep in regular contact with Ruth, and she has been an invaluable source of advice and interesting scientific discussion. 

My second networking target was Eileen Kowler, who I met with in 2021. As an eye movement researcher, Eileen has published the groundwork for so many different areas that I am interested in, and it was great to get the opportunity to talk to her. We talked about some of my recent work, and my future plans, and she gave me very helpful advice on my future academic career. Eileen’s work has influenced my ideas throughout my career, and it was really helpful to be able to discuss some new research ideas and questions with her. This was a really valuable discussion, and Eileen gave me a lot of useful suggestions.

It was great to be able to talk not only about science, but about career and research problems in general, and these meetings allowed us to cover a lot more topics than one would usually get when meeting people at a poster for example. This award has been a huge stepping stone to forming my own collaborations and scientific network. It has also been fantastic to give me the confidence to reach out to senior researchers, which seemed a bit daunting before this whole process! I would like to thank both of my networking targets for their time, and also FoVea for creating this award that gives young female scientists the opportunity to form such important connections. 


2019 FoVea Travel and Networking Award Recipients


Tiffany Carther-Krone

As a 4th year PhD student I have reached a pivotal point in my professional development where I need to start considering the next steps regarding my career trajectory.  While important, the idea of networking with senior scholars has always seemed like a daunting task, as it was hard to imagine busy and successful academics having time to chat with me.  When the FoVea Travel and Networking Award was announced, I was encouraged to apply and it felt like the perfect opportunity to push myself outside of my comfort zone to reach out to scientists who I admire in the research world.  My networking plan involved meeting with Dr. Monica Castelhano and Dr. Allison Sekuler, whose research interests not only align with my own, but who have both obtained successful careers as female scientists in academia.

With Dr. Castelhano our conversation started with a discussion about how some of her research involving real-world scenes to examine scene gist might translate into the context of my own research involving visual illusions.  This led to a candid conversation about how to overcome the feeling of failure when research projects don’t work out the way they were originally expected to, coupled with a comforting reminder that even the most successful researchers sometimes have to revamp a study two or more times before it works out.  Our conversation ended with a discussion about balancing family life with academic life, and the importance of recognizing that different seasons of life will require prioritizing time accordingly. 

With Dr. Sekuler, we began our conversation talking about balancing commitments and how to prioritize when deadlines all seem to occur simultaneously.  With an interest in the next steps following graduate school, we also talked about reaching out to potential post-doc advisors, ways to enhance leadership skills, and career opportunities available to graduate students that aren’t necessarily tenure-track related. Her final advice was a reminder that even amidst the busy life that balancing academic and family commitments together brings, to be sure to find time for myself, a reminder that I very much needed.

Above all, this opportunity really helped increase my confidence as a female scientist.  Having such a positive experience with both Dr. Sekuler and Dr. Castelhano helped me realize that networking is an important way to share research ideas and ask for advice from others who have been in my position before. With that said, I would like to thank my Networking targets for all the great advice and FoVea for organizing this amazing opportunity. 


Michele A. Cox

Much thanks to FoVea for the unique opportunity provided by this award. I benefited immensely from the exercise of identifying networking targets in advanced of the meeting. The act of explicitly codifying who I wanted to meet with and why was immensely helpful on a number of fronts. First, it made me consider not just where my research line is presently but also the directions I might want to take it in the future. Second, and perhaps less surprisingly, preparing for each meeting made them more impactful. In fact, in reviewing my application while writing this report, I realized that I actually discussed each of scientific topics I outlined with each of my networking targets. I came away not only with concrete ideas for experiments and next steps, but also plans for how I can get formal and informal feedback on my research questions and approaches as I develop them.

In all, I met with Mary Hayhoe of University of Texas at Austin, Preeti Verghese of Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, Jeremy Wolfe of Harvard Medical School, and David Peterzell of University of California Berkeley. In addition to stimulating scientific discussions, I also had useful discussion around topics relating to career development. One benefit of having several meeting was the diversity of perspective I got on my career development questions. Major take aways for me were that there is no one way to have a successful research career, and that, with luck, I have more career years ahead of me than I do behind me. This was particularly impactful to me a new postdoc settling into a long-established research group while mapping out my own research line.


Jolande Fooken

I am a senior PhD student thinking about a career in academia. The FoVea Award was the perfect opportunity to set up networking meetings with senior scientists to chat about pretty much anything. I previously had the chance to discuss my research with other scientists in my field. For example, I signed up for “meet the professor” at VSS at previous conferences. However, the brilliant thing about the FoVea Award is that the topic of conversation is completely up to you and that you get a one-on-one meeting with any researcher that you can pin down.

I am a German vision scientist currently located in Canada and was interested to meet with other German researchers that returned to Germany after being abroad early in their careers. I met with Karl Gegenfurtner, Melissa Võ, and Martin Rolfs, three senior scientists at different career stages and universities. With each networking target I discussed possible career paths and they highlighted what had helped them to become a vision scientist in Germany. The experiences they shared with me were very valuable on both a personal and professional level. Whereas I prepared a set of predetermined questions, I was surprised to find that every meeting went into a different and sometimes unexpected direction. In the end, I received unique advice from each of my networking targets highlighting that different skills and experiences can contribute to a successful career in vision sciences.

If you are a female vision scientist considering to apply for the FoVea Award, do so. Just going through a mental list of possible networking targets will help you to think about your research focus and professional career path. Networking is something you cannot start early enough, especially, if you want to stay in science. Overall, it was a great experience from taking the initiative to contact my networking targets to meeting with them at VSS. Thanks to FoVea for offering this great award!


Iris Groen

I’ve been an enthusiastic and regular attendee of VSS since graduate school. Attending previous meetings greatly helped me advance my career, as getting to know both junior and senior colleagues working on similar topics help me build a network of peers which in turn made me feel more confident when presenting my own research. However, I wasn’t able to attend VSS 2018 because I was pregnant with a due date in early June. My pregnancy also coincided with the start of a new post-doc position and due to this switch-over I didn’t end up having enough data to be able to submit an abstract for VSS 2019. Receiving the FoVea award nevertheless allowed me to attend, and this was very important to me as it helped me stay up to date with current developments and maintain my network at VSS at a time where I had a decrease in my productivity, which could easily have been perceived as a ‘disappearance’ or drop-out from the field.

I choose to meet with Dr. Aude Oliva, who is Principal Research Scientist at CSAIL-MIT, and Executive Director of MIT-IBM Watson Lab and MIT Quest for Intelligence. She is a personal hero of mine because I consider her a founder of the field of scene perception, my main research field. I find her ability to straddle the border between neuroscience and AI – applying models and computational insights from computer vision to human perception and neuroimaging – very inspiring. This ended up being a very fortuitous choice because by the time the meeting happened, I had started to apply for assistant-professor positions and had in fact just received an job offer in an Informatics department, where I was planning to start an interdisciplinary group focusing on the computational mechanisms of scene perception. We discussed Dr. Oliva’s experience with leading an interdisciplinary group consisting of computer vision and human vision scientists and the ensuing challenges and pitfalls, which was extremely helpful to me. We also discussed some ideas for experiments related to my ongoing work in my post-doc for which Dr. Oliva provided some good and useful feedback.

Setting up a ‘networking plan’ may seem a bit contrived, but I felt that having a one-on-one meeting that was designated explicitly for this purpose of networking was in fact very valuable. While given the overlap in our interests and research I might have been able to talk to Dr. Oliva in a casual encounter during e.g. a poster presentation, this meeting allowed me to prepare and to ask more targeted questions and to get her feedback on my personal career development. The fact that FoVea facilitates this type of interaction is thus a very important and valuable contribution to women’s careers and I hope it will inspire junior (or senior!) scientists to set up such meetings at their own initiative – I will certainly try to do this for future meetings, and I imagine it is nothing but a joy to be a networking target for someone else someday.


Anna Heuer

When I applied for this award, I had been working on a new project on temporal information in visual working memory for about six months. This is the first time that I am in the role of a Principal Investigator responsible for my own funding, so this project is not only important to me because I care about the research topic, but also because I feel that its success is critical for my career over the next few years and probably beyond. The first couple of experiments produced promising and interesting results, and I thought that at this stage, the development of the project would greatly benefit from expert feedback. Therefore, I chose two networking targets, whose work overlaps with different aspects of my project: Timothy Brady for his work on the representational architecture of visual working memory and Yaffa Yeshurun for her work on temporal processing and attention. Both were generous with their time, and we got to discuss a range of issues during our meetings, from theoretical implications to experimental details and upcoming challenges. I am particularly grateful for some practical advice on timing and design choices in temporal attention tasks, which I am sure will save me a lot of time and frustration in the future. Some new ideas for further experiments also emerged during our conversations and I am eager to try them out.

A great thing about the FoVea Travel and Networking Award is that the application process itself is extremely worthwhile, irrespective of whether or not the application turns out to be successful. It forces the applicants to pause and think about the big picture of their research and career, about what specifically they would like to get advice or feedback on, and about who would be the right senior scientist(s) to talk to about this. We probably all have some idea of that anyway, but the FoVea award provides a structure that may seem weirdly formal and a bit awkward at first – having to write a “networking plan” and contact “networking targets” – but that is actually a great way to gain more clarity and that pushes you to take action. So I would like to urge anyone who is reading this because they are considering applying to do so (and if it works out, the award and the funding are a nice additional bonus). Many thanks to Fovea for creating and organizing this award!


Lindsay Santacroce

Networking is an important component to developing a foundation for a successful future in academia. However, approaching senior scientists at conferences can often be overwhelming and intimidating, especially for those in early stages of their career. This past fall, I attended a local conference as a second-year graduate student where I first learned of Dr. Mary Hayhoe’s research during her keynote presentation. I was just beginning to develop my interests for graduate research, which included the capacity limits of attention and the costs of performing two simultaneous tasks, or dual tasking. I was interested in studying the effects adding a cognitive task might have on one’s gait while walking (cognitive/motor dual tasking) and learning about Dr. Hayhoe’s research immediately sparked an idea on how her methods could be applied in my research. Even with a clear motive, I never got up the courage to approach her during the conference.

Upon discovering the FoVea Travel and Networking Award, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to finally reach out to and meet with Dr. Hayhoe. During our meeting at the VSS conference, I was able to tell her about my idea to implement her foot placement and eye-tracking methods as novel gait measures in a cognitive/motor dual tasking study. She provided valuable feedback and information on her methods, including how I could set up the study, which measures will be necessary to collect, the devices I will need, how to interpret the data outputs, and potential pitfalls that might arise. She also offered to help me in the future, should I have any questions. Because her methods have yet to be used in the dual tasking literature and are unfamiliar to both my advisor and I, her guidance was extremely helpful in laying the foundation of my research project. In addition to providing feedback on my research idea, she also gave me advice on how to succeed in academia, especially as a woman. Given her reputation as a well-established scientist with collaborators around the world, her intel and stories were inspiring. It was also comforting when she shared that she, too, used to be shy and hesitant when approaching more senior scientists. Overall, the information I gained from my meeting with Dr. Hayhoe was tremendously valuable and I appreciate her taking the time to meet with me.

The experience I’ve gained from applying to the FoVea Travel and Networking Award was eye-opening in many ways. Not only was I able to meet with a senior scientist to receive feedback on my research, but I learned how uncomplicated networking can be. Setting up the meeting was as simple as sending an email and the meeting itself was more casual than I had originally expected, which makes me feel much more comfortable about networking in the future. I’m grateful for the opportunity FoVea has given me and I believe their mission will continue to encourage young female scientists to be more confident in networking with senior scientists.


2018 FoVea Travel and Networking Award Recipients


Cristina de la Malla

The FoVea Travel and Networking Award is an excellent opportunity for students and post- docs to get advice on their research and academic trajectory from Senior Scientists at VSS. Unlike the discussions that we normally hold during a poster session, which are normally related to a specific set of results, and often time limited, setting a meeting within the FoVea environment requires the applicants to think about what they need advice on. We are used to ask for and get advice and feedback from our work, but sometimes we might also want to look at our trajectory and get advice about what to do next, or how to get where we want to. In my case, when applying for the award I had been a post-doc at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam for about three years, trying to obtain a tenure-track position. I chose Dr. Anna Montagnini (Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone, Marseille, France) and Dr. Miriam Spering (The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) as my Networking Targets. They work on research topics close to mine (so the scientific discussion was ensured), but beyond that they got tenure-track positions early in their careers, so they were the perfect targets for me. Thus, I did not only get feedback on my work, but they also carefully prepared our meeting and helped me in understanding what would be best for me to get a tenure-track, or which parts of my CV could be enhanced and how I could achieve that enhancement. Furthermore, we discussed different possibilities for grants, projects, supervision and how to get and deal with them.

Beyond all the information and feedback I got from them, I learned something else. We sometimes do not make the effort of actively networking with senior scientists when attending conferences. There might be different reasons for that. Maybe because we are shy, or because we might expect a negative answer we might not dare to ask for a meeting with someone. However, the will, the enthusiasm and the energy that both Dr. Montagnini and Dr. Spering put into our meeting made me aware that these meetings really worth it. For all this, I would like to thank my Networking targets and the FoVea for all the scientific and career advice I got. This will certainly be useful for next steps in my career.


Erin Goddard

Thanks to FoVea for organizing this great award, the whole process has been really beneficial to me. My networking plan involved meeting with Prof David Brainard, who is a leading researcher in the field of color vision, and whose research interests overlap with my own. Prof Brainard met with me and offered helpful advice on how to develop my career and prepare for applying for a faculty position in future. We discussed my ideas for possible future grant proposals, and Prof Brainard helped me to better define and frame my research questions. As a result of our meeting, Prof Brainard organized for me to be invited to speak to the Vision Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania in November this year, which will be a valuable opportunity to present my research, meet other vision researchers, and to gain experience in a setting similar to a job talk. Prof Brainard also offered to give me feedback on grant and fellowship proposals I prepare in future.

I’d encourage any female early career vision researcher who is considering applying for this award to do so, since the act of applying for the award provides an excellent opportunity to make contact with someone who can help with your career. When I contacted Prof Brainard about applying for this award, he offered to meet with me regardless of whether I received it, so even an unsuccessful application could be of value.


Emilie Josephs

As a third-year graduate student, my work was starting to produce cohesive results, and I was beginning to wish I could talk to other researchers in the field to situate my new findings. I knew whose feedback I would be interested in, but reaching out to those individuals was daunting. When the FoVea Travel and Networking Award was announced, it acted as a catalyst, giving me the structure — and the extra push — to contact senior scientists I was hoping to learn from. I reached out to three people: Melissa Võ, Monica Castelhano, and Russell Epstein. All three are people who have thought deeply about cognitive and neural representations of scenes, and who I thought would have interesting perspectives on my own work exploring the representation of reachable space (“reachspaces”).

With Russell Epstein, I discussed recent neuroimaging results showing dissociable representations for reachspaces and scenes. The conversation allowed me to practice presenting my work in a one-on-one setting, where questions come more frequently and delve deeper than in talk settings. With Melissa Võ, we discussed how some of her ideas on scene structure might apply to reachspaces, and brainstormed ways to test whether her models applied to both kinds of environments. Finally, my meeting with Monica Castelhano started with an animated discussion about data, and ended with a candid conversation about the challenges a young female PI can face, especially early in her career, and some strategies to mitigate them. This meeting was a perfect complement to the FoVea Workshop this year, which discussed “Remedying the (Still) Too Slow Advancement of Women”.

Science is not an individual pursuit: there are always people we know we should talk to, people who have thought hard about issues close to our own. As a young scientist, this was something that I understood, but I didn’t know how to make it happen. Participating in this FoVea award showed me that it’s as easy as sending an email. I learned more from each of those conversations than I was expecting. Meetings like this afford the opportunity to hear broader perspectives on our work, to be exposed to other opinions and models, which leads to new ideas for experiments to arbitrate among them. Furthermore, I learned that meeting with senior scientists for career advice is as powerful as meeting with them to share scientific ideas. There are challenges to being a PI that cannot be anticipated as a grad student, and hearing from the experiences of others, and the solutions they have devised, is extremely valuable. Next time, I won’t need the galvanizing force of a travel award to encourage me to set up these kinds of meetings. The FoVea Travel and Networking Award is a great program, and has demystified for me the concept of meeting with senior scientists for opinions and advice.

Abigail Lee

As a third-year PhD student studying in the UK, where PhD degrees typically last 3-4 years, I have just over a year left of my PhD, meaning I am at a critical stage for both my research and considering my next steps for the future. With this in mind, I chose two networking targets for the FoVea Travel and Networking Award, one whose work relates very closely to my own, and one who would be very valuable to talk to about furthering my career.

My first networking target was Preeti Verghese, who I was very interested in talking to about my current experiments. In the past she has done work that is extremely closely linked to my research investigating the different ways that we may combine information about the speed of moving objects. When we met, she suggested lots of possible explanations for my findings that previously I had not considered, as well as new ideas for things I could look at. She also kindly suggested two useful new experiments for me to carry out after VSS, and offered to Skype call if I had any further questions.

My second networking target was Allison Sekuler, who I wanted to talk to more about career development. We discussed a range of topics, including managing a lab whilst in leadership roles, ideas for research, research funding in Canada, and dealing with trolls on social media. Allison also introduced me to several other vision scientists, helping me to network further, and offered to give me a tour of Baycrest in Toronto, where she is vice-president of research and director of the Rotman Research Institute. Both Preeti Verghese and Allison Sekuler were very generous with their time, and I am very grateful for being able to meet with them both at VSS 2018.

Beyond what I gained from meeting my two networking targets this year, I also benefitted hugely from applying for the FoVea Travel and Networking Award in 2017. Despite not winning the award at that time, I met with my networking targets at VSS 2017 anyway. Those meetings led to me being able to visit several labs at the Centre for Vision Research at York University in Toronto after the 2018 VSS meeting, where I hope to be able to get a postdoctoral position in the future.

More generally, the FoVea Travel and Networking Award has made me much more confident about approaching and talking to other researchers, both at conferences and through email. Whilst in the past I would have been hesitant about contacting other scientists and asking them about their research or to meet, I now feel much more comfortable about doing so. I am incredibly grateful to be a recipient of the 2018 FoVea Travel and Networking Award.


Kimberly Meier

I am a graduate student finishing up my PhD this summer. I am at a key stage in professional development where I have the opportunity to make pivotal decisions regarding the skills I acquire during postdoctoral training. In addition to pursuing my academic research interests, I have developed an interest in the role that organizations in government, industry, startup, and clinical contexts can play in translating research and methods from the vision sciences into applied settings.

In line with this curiosity, I took the opportunity provided to me by the FoVea Travel and Networking Award to meet with senior scientists who have built different kinds of careers in applied research settings: Drs. Laurie Wilcox, Andrew Beau Watson, and Benjamin Backus. Collectively, these three have experience managing grants and partnerships with industry and government agencies while maintaining a productive university research and teaching career, moving from fundamental vision science research to the role of Chief Vision Scientist at a multinational technology corporation, and balancing a part-time university appointment while working with a clinical translational start-up as Chief Science Officer. All began their careers with training similar to my own, and have supervised trainees who have entered a variety of academic and industrial careers, so I knew they would be able to provide some useful insights based on how their unique career paths unfolded.

The informational interviews I had with all three scientists were really illuminating. We talked about how they transitioned from PhD studies to the “real world,” and whether non-academic partnerships were on their radar at this point. It was interesting to see the variety of ways in which these partnerships began – for example, while one person was approached by an industry partner, another initiated contact with a company via a web contact form! I also found that they were attracted to partnerships for a variety of different reasons – this included a desire to make more directly applicable contributions than those made in theoretical research, but also excitement over the chance to tackle new kinds of challenges compared to what they were used to. I asked about the skills they would recommend developing, and the biggest surprises or obstacles they encountered. We also discussed how time and budget are managed differently compared to what I have been exposed to in academia.

I have never reached out for advice from anyone who is in a later career stage than I am, but this experience taught me how valuable this simple action can be. It’s also much easier than I anticipated. I thought it would be awkward to approach someone for a chat like this, but it didn’t turn out that way at all – all three were enthusiastic about setting up a meeting, took me very seriously during our discussion, and seemed very happy to share their experiences and advice with me. If you see someone with a career you aspire to – get in touch, even if it seems intimidating!


Anna Shafer-Skelton

Networking was particularly critical for me this year, since I was at a decision-point in my work investigating what types of scene information may be stored in memory across brief delays. Working with Dr. Tim Brady, I had hoped to find a paradigm that was a good entry into investigating what types of information about scenes (e.g., layout information, global image properties, semantic information) were preserved across brief delays. The work I presented this year called into question the paradigm we had used as our first entry point into addressing this question, suggesting that instead of previous results reflecting boosted performance due to memory across delays, they reflect improvement in an orthogonal part of the task.

At VSS 2018, I had two networking meetings, one with Dr. Russell Epstein and one with Dr. Monica Castelhano. While the vast majority of visual memory research tests memory for discrete, simple visual objects, both Dr. Epstein and Dr. Castelhano have experience working with real-world scenes and thinking about the impact our choice of stimuli may have on how we characterize the way the mind works. Both meetings helped me gain a broader perspective on this field and on the challenges of investigating scene layout in memory. During my meeting with Dr. Epstein, we discussed potential experiment designs for addressing the question of memory for scene layout information using cognitive neuroscience methods. Dr. Epstein is also an expert in spatial navigation, and he pointed me towards some relevant work I haven’t read before. We talked about how memory across fixations may operate differently than memory across multiple views of a scene, and we discussed the relative contributions of working memory and long-term memory in both processes. Relatedly, in both my meeting with Dr. Epstein and my meeting with Dr. Castelhano, we discussed how the presence of depth information in a scene may influence how we actively explore it and what types of information may be stored about these scenes in memory. Dr. Castelhano also had interesting data about prioritization of foregrounds of scenes that underlines how critical it is to study how vision works in natural scenes as well as in arrays of discrete visual objects, and her insider knowledge on the memory paradigm I have been using will be useful if I continue using it in the future.

Overall, the FoVea Travel and Networking award created a fantastic opportunity for me to interact with senior scientists in my area of research, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the experience.


2017 FoVea Travel and Networking Award Recipients


Kathryn Bonnen

Over the next year I will complete my PhD and become a postdoctoral researcher with the goal of obtaining a tenure-track research position. I chose three networking targets (Lynne Kiorpes, Anthony Norcia, and Michael Landy) for the FoVea Travel and Networking Award. Each of them was chosen because their careers and research interests overlap with my current research agenda and career goals.

During previous years at VSS, I’ve had a number of positive, productive conversations with senior scientists from outside my home institution but almost exclusively in the context of poster sessions in which I was presenting a poster. As part of the award application process for the FoVea Travel and Networking Award, I formulated an argument for why I wanted to meet each of the targeted senior scientists. This process was incredibly valuable and it reframed how I thought about networking at VSS. I was forced to consider interactions outside of the context of a poster session. I became comfortable with the notion that it was reasonable to ask a senior scientist for some of their time during a conference to discuss overlapping interests, to ask questions about their science or my science, and to seek their opinions about how to progress in my career even if it’s not necessarily going to take me to their lab. When I submitted my application I decided that I would still try to meet with each of the targets even if I did not receive the award. It occurred to me that interacting with senior scientists in my field was a necessary part of the transition to being a more mature and independent scientist, a transition that it was time for me to start making.

Shortly after I submitted my application, I attended Cosyne, a conference focusing on computational and systems neuroscience. Influenced by the FoVea application process, I identified two scientists that I wanted to have longer conversations with: one who I was interested in working for as a postdoc and another whose work I’d been reading recently. I introduced myself to each of them early in the conference and invited them to my poster. They both visited my poster and this led to other interactions throughout the conference. This success was encouraging and reinforced the utility of setting networking goals ahead of upcoming conferences.

During VSS, I met with each of the networking targets. The topics of conversation included ongoing projects in their labs, my current research, and my postdoctoral transition. I also had several brief informal conversations with each of the scientists as I ran into them at posters and between talks. Reflecting back on VSS for the purpose of writing this report, I realized that these informal conversations were particularly important. They were evidence that the FoVea Travel and Networking Award was succeeding in one of its primary goals: helping female vision scientists to build their professional network.


Jodie Davies-Thompson

The Vision Sciences Society conference contains a wealth of talks and poster presentations relevant to my research, including face processing, prosopagnosia, and visual plasticity. As my 10th VSS meeting however, 2017 was of particular importance due to the meetings I had lined up.

This year, on Monday 22nd May at 1.30pm, something extraordinary happened: independent from the conference program, a group of ~15 prosopagnosia researchers from around the world, sat down together and discussed consensus of diagnosis for developmental prosopagnosia. The group identified specific issues that needed to be addressed. Due to the success of the meeting, the group plans to organize further meetings, as well as an official mailing list and website containing information from the ~33 international researchers/groups involved in prosopagnosia research, opening up information to other researchers and the prosopagnosic community. Needless to say, this was a rare and valuable experience, which paved the way for further collaborations.

The day before, I met with my ‘networking target’ – Dr. Joe DeGutis – to discuss rehabilitation of prosopagnosia. Despite the large number of studies on prosopagnosia, very few have attempted rehabilitation of prosopagnosia, and nearly all have been single cases. To date, only three studies have attempted rehabilitation in a cohort of prosopagnosics – one by Joe DeGutis (DeGutis, Cohan, & Nakayama, 2014), and a more recent study by myself (Davies-Thompson et al., 2017). With both training programs showing promise, we decided to combine our efforts and resources to progress prosopagnosia rehabilitation research faster. Specifically, we aim to 1) compare the efficacy and efficiency of the two face training programs, and 2) understand how training can be tailored for each person to improve outcome. This collaboration provides a unique opportunity to assess which avenues are worth pursuing further, and where future resources should be directed. We are currently working towards funding applications for NIH (US) and the ESRC (UK).

One of my long-term research interests has been to investigate sub-types of developmental prosopagnosia. In acquired prosopagnosia, damage to different parts of the face network can cause face recognition problems; developmental prosopagnosia is also likely to be heterogeneous. Understanding the variability in face recognition deficits can help to tailor training programs to the individual and improve clinical outcomes. Currently, I am building an international multicenter collaboration, with the aim to examine the neural correlates of prosopagnosia sub-types. At VSS, I met with three of these researchers to further discuss the project as well as funding opportunities: a challenging issue due to geographical constraints with funding bodies. Enquiries with various funding agencies, including the Human Frontier Science Program, are ongoing.

In all, VSS 2017 was a highly productive meeting, which has resulted in a minimum of two international collaborative projects, as well as providing the opportunity to be involved in a large group discussion with other prosopagnosia experts. Moving forward, I will be applying for 3 grants with collaborators I met with at St Pete’s Beach. I only hope that the funding agencies are as enthusiastic about the projects as we are.

Davies-Thompson, J., Fletcher, K., Hills, C., Pancaroglu, R., Corrow, S. L., & Barton, J. J. (2017). Perceptual learning of faces: A rehabilitative study of acquired prosopagnosia. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

DeGutis, J., Cohan, S., & Nakayama, K. (2014). Holistic face training enhances face processing in developmental prosopagnosia. Brain, 137(6), 1781-1798.


Brittney Hartle

The FoVea travel and networking award provides an excellent basis for making contact and meeting with relevant experts at the Vision Science Society’s (VSS) annual meeting. It provides an opportunity to connect junior and senior vision researchers from a broad range of disciplines. I arranged to meet with Dr. Andrew Glennerster, a professor of visual neuroscience and head of the Immersive Virtual Reality Laboratory at the University of Reading to discuss my Ph.D. research on shape perception in virtual environments in head-mounted displays (HMD).

During our meeting, we discussed my research plans to evaluate the accuracy of depth perception of virtual objects rendered in HMDs. My work will establish whether the capabilities of current consumer HMDs can be used to evaluate performance in tasks that depend on fine depth discrimination. Dr. Glennerster commented on the value of this work, since the quality of depth from HMD systems has yet to be evaluated using traditional psychophysical methods. We also discussed his previous work on the latency, spatial calibration, and navigation in virtual spaces. He described techniques he used in his own research to achieve accurate calibration using established camera calibration techniques and ray tracing to estimate parameters of HMDs. During this discussion, we talked about his used of the nVis SX111 HMD compared to more modern HMDs, like Oculus Rift CV1. Our discussion ended with an open channel for collaboration and an opportunity for a future lab visit.

Overall, my discussion with Dr. Glennerster provided insight into potential issues that may arise in the preliminary stages of my research. While planning my experimental design, the discussions with senior scientists like Dr. Glennerster will prove invaluable and time saving over the course of my Ph.D. The FoVea travel and networking award provides an opportunity for junior scientists to reach out to senior scientists to meet and discuss shared research interests, regardless if the applicant receives the award. I recommend this travel award to future VSS attendees as a means to overcome apprehension regarding making contact with fellow vision scientists. Lastly, I highly recommend attending future FoVea workshops at VSS. The topic of this year’s workshop, “Negotiation: When and How to Do It Successfully” discussed issues for women in professional work environments. The hosts, Dr. Marisa Carrasco and Dr. Allison Sekuler, created an engaging space that promoted open discussion of issues commonly faced by women in the workplace that is relevant to vision scientists of all genders. Previously, I had not given these issues careful consideration, but feel that I will be better prepared to deal with them in the future.


Amanda Robinson

I would like to thank FoVea for awarding me one of the inaugural FoVea travel and networking awards, not only for the funding but also for the opportunity to represent FoVea and women in vision science. It was fantastic to be able to network with top scientists at the Vision Sciences Society meeting at St Pete Beach, Florida in May 2017. Receiving this award afforded me the opportunity to meet with three top vision scientists from around the world, all of whom were extremely generous with their time. In my networking meetings I was fortunate enough to discuss many interesting topics relating to vision science and cognitive neuroscience, as well as more practical aspects of being a scientist, like applying for grants and publishing papers. I met with Dr Bruno Rossion from the University of Louvain, Belgium (UCL), Dr Liad Mudrik from Tel Aviv University, Israel, and Dr Stefanie Becker from the University of Queensland, Australia. Dr Bruno Rossion and I chatted about many topics relating to face perception and the technique of fast periodic visual stimulation. I gained a lot of insight into the nuances of design and analysis of frequency tagging experiments. We had an interesting discussion about the development of lateralised visual perception. Our interests overlap a great deal so it was fantastic to have some time to pick his brain. I had a really informative discussion with Dr Liad Mudrik about integration of visual and multisensory features, both from a low-level and higher-level perspective. At the conference Dr Mudrik gave a symposium talk that I really enjoyed, and we spoke about a topic that she had mentioned in her talk, namely the importance of experimental replication and how science relies on converging evidence. Dr Stefanie Becker and I discussed many interesting topics including attentional processing in humans as well as in honeybees, which I studied years ago during my Honours project. It was also informative talking to Dr Becker about the current scientific landscape in Australia. I plan to return to Australia this year, and Dr Becker gave me a great deal of insight into the current climate for grant and fellowship funding in the country, which was extremely helpful. Once again I would like to take this opportunity to thank FoVea for this award, as I was able to attend VSS and meet with high profile scientists, which was made possible with their generous funding. I learnt a lot from discussions with my networking targets and the meetings undoubtedly helped me refine my networking skills and expand my networking circle, which will certainly come in useful in my career. I plan to keep in contact with all of my networking targets and hope that our discussions will lead to future collaboration.


Kara Emery

For the 2017 FoVea Travel and Networking Award, I proposed a networking plan with Dr. Bevil Conway to discuss issues of mutual interest in our research and a potential for collaboration. I am currently a graduate student studying the neural representation of color, specifically how individual differences in color perception interact across changes in hue, saturation, and luminance. Dr. Conway is a leading color scientist investigating the function of and information coded by cell types in the processing pathway of color perception using single-neuron recordings, fMRI and psychophysical techniques. A recent study for which Dr. Conway was a co-author evidenced luminance invariant, hue-selective cells in the inferotemporal cortex, demonstrating responses like those which underlie the differences in color appearance judgments that I have measured behaviorally (Bohon et al., 2016). At the 2017 Vision Science Society meeting, Dr. Conway and I met to discuss the similarity in our results and have planned to apply some of the modeling techniques outlined in his recent paper to my data. In this paper, Dr. Conway and his co-authors modeled the response functions of neuron populations to understand how they might be organized to represent perceptual color space. They compared the organization and tuning properties in these populations to what would be expected from canonical models of color perception. I am currently working on developing an outline for which modeling techniques from his paper that I would like to learn and to apply to the factors extracted based on my hue-scaling data. Together we’ll decide which techniques would be most informative and make predictions based on the chosen analyses for how the two datasets might compare. Furthermore, our conversation developed into a discussion on many of Dr. Conway’s previous studies, including his work on color language, categorization, and the influence of natural scene statistics on color-coding. Ultimately, I enjoyed exploring these various topics with Dr. Conway, and his ideas on the function of color perception in humans. I look forward to the continued development of our collaboration, and I am grateful that the FoVea Award encouraged my networking with Dr. Conway. This experience will continue to be critical to the development of my research and an inspiration to my vision science career.