I did my undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I worked with Brian Butler for my Honour's thesis, and Doug Mewhort provided invaluable assistance at that time.
I pursued graduate work at McGill University in Montreal under Mark Seidenberg's supervision. There I was involved in research concerning how people read and understand printed words.
My initial projects concerned how people read words aloud, mostly in terms of testing Seidenberg and McClelland's (1989) neural network model, which was published while I was Mark's student.
For my doctoral dissertation, I focused on people's memory for the meaning of words, conducting experiments with adult human participants to test ideas based on neural networks. I still find word meaning immensely fascinating and continue research in that area.
I conducted my Postdoctoral research at the University of Rochester with Mike Tanenhaus. While I was there, I jumped "up" a step, and studied how people understand entire sentences. I also met Michael Spivey at Rochester, and we have collaborated over the years.
During that time and in the interim, I've been interested in how people figure out what a sentence means by taking the meanings of words, combining that with their knowledge of how the world works, and then combining that with information about sentence structure (syntax or grammar). As part of this research, I and my colleagues have implemented computational models of parts of this process. My most important colleagues over the past several years in this endeavour have been Mary Hare and Jeff Elman, and I continue to work with them on issues involving how knowledge about common events is represented and used to understand sentences.
I began my career at Western as an Assistant Professor in 1993. I became an Associate Professor in 1999, and then a Professor in 2005.
My research continues to focus on word meaning and sentence comprehension, although I now incorporate neural imaging experiments (ERP and fMRI), in addition to experiments with adults (including word processing, sentence reading, and eyetracking experiments), and neural network modeling. I am also somewhat involved with research on patient populations.
I have been extremely lucky to work with numerous excellent graduate and undergraduate students who have gone on to careers in academia, communicative disorders, neuropsychology, and private sector research.
Currently, I typically teach two undergraduate courses per year: Psychology 3800, Psychological Statistics using Computers (SPSS), and Psychology 3139, Cognitive Science. Graduate courses that I have taught over the past few years include Sentence Comprehension and Semantic Memory.
For a current listing, the Psychology Department's undergraduate calendar may be viewed here.