Thursday, May 16, 2024

Written by: Office of Strategic Communication

Professor Bob McMurray was one of four faculty members to be named 2023 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general-scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

McMurray was elected for “distinguished contributions to the psycholinguistics of speech perception, spoken word recognition, and reading, including the development of these abilities across the lifespan and in typical and atypical populations.”

For the past decade, McMurray has been at the forefront of applying the tools and theories of cognitive science to understand word recognition and language processing in different types of people. His lab has current studies tracking how children recognize and learn words, and how word recognition changes as people age. His team also has partnered with researchers in UI Health Care to study word recognition with people who have hearing loss and use cochlear implants. The results reveal an astonishing diversity to how people solve the basic problems of language.

McMurray has laboratories on campus, at UI Hospitals & Clinics, and in a research hub he established in Cedar Rapids. In these facilities, his team of undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and research staff employ an array of sophisticated methods—eye tracking, computational modeling, and cognitive neuroscience—to decipher how the brain processes words and language.

“The AAAS fellowship is one of the most prestigious forms of recognition in the academic community,” McMurray says. “I see dozens of names of scientists and scholars on this year’s list that I've admired since I was an undergraduate. It is humbling to be included among them and to be recognized by my peers in the field for the work we are doing.”