Associate Professor of Psychology Michael A. Grubb recently received a $470,000 five-year Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that supports his research on reward learning, selection history, and attentional control.
“This project advances our scientific understanding of how an observer’s past modulates their attention in the present,” Grubb said. “The educational objective is to develop, deliver, and refine a unique set of educational opportunities.” Those include: 1) creating a data-focused lab course to accompany his undergraduate seminar on selective attention, 2) formalizing his approach to teaching programming in his research lab by creating a mentoring program wherein older students in the lab teach younger students, and 3) starting a campus chapter of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM) to promote LGBTQ visibility and inclusive mentoring in the service of retaining LGBTQ students in science.
Grubb said that his long-term research goal is to advance understanding of the external, internal, and developmental factors that determine the focus of attentional prioritization in any moment to better understand the role that attention plays in perception, action, and cognition. Using behavioral, eye-tracking, and neuroimaging methods, “the research objective for this grant is to test two hypotheses concerning selection history, the reflexive prioritization of previously attended items,” Grubb said.
During the current academic year, Grubb is a teaching fellow in Trinity’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). This yearlong program supports teachers who wish to undertake a project of innovation in their teaching and to be part of an ongoing conversation about pedagogy. Grubb said he will focus on the development of a lab course to accompany his attention seminar, adding that he will deliver the course annually, making refinements in line with feedback from a formal, end-of-term assessment that he will develop as part of the CTL project.