Industrial Engineering Graduate Seminar

Thursday, April 13 at 3:30 pm to 4:20 pm
Seamans Center, 4030
103 South Capitol Street, Iowa City, Iowa

Industrial Engineering Graduate Seminar IE:5000  Title: Repurposing Cognition Presented by: Doug Gillan, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University Abstract: The tasks that we do every day, from driving cars to using computers to watching movies and TV, are far beyond what our minds/brains evolved to do (e.g., processing our bodies moving at 65 mph, reading text, and performing mathematical calculations). My talk will propose that, in order to do these modern tasks, we have to take cognitive processes that evolved for other purposes (such as finding food, avoiding predation, tribal social relations, finding a mate) and repurpose them. I will discuss a fewexamples of repurposing, with data from my lab and others. In addition, most modern tasks involve interactions with technological devices. Understanding the original evolutionary purposes for the cognitive processes underlying the modern tasks may aid in the design of human-technology interfaces to reduce mismatches between users and these devices.  Bio: Douglas J. Gillan is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at North Carolina State University (NC State) in Raleigh, NC. He received a B.A. in Psychology from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN) in 1974 and a Ph.D. in Biopsychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1978. He was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University and a Sloan Foundation Cognitive Science Fellow at University of Pennsylvania. He worked for 10 years in industry at the General Foods Research Center and at Lockheed Engineering and Sciences at NASA-JSC. He returned to academia as a visiting scholar at Rice University, then as a faculty member at the University of Idaho, New Mexico State University (NMSU), and NC State. He served as the Head of the Departments of Psychology at NMSU and NC State for five years and 10 years, respectively. Gillan is a Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He has served as an Associate Editor of Human Factors and a member of the editorial board of The Journal of Usability Studies. His research interests focus broadly on the interaction between humans and technology. He has investigated issues in human-computer interaction and human-robot interaction. Much of his research has centered around the cognitive and perceptual processes that underlie comprehension of graphical and numerical displays of information. In addition, he has published extensively on the relation between science and practice in human factors. The National Science Foundation and the Army Research Laboratory have funded his research. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Tara Hoadley in advance at

Contact Info: Tara Hoadley,