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Fisher to Deliver Distinguished Faculty Lecture on October 18

Donald Fisher

Donald Fisher

Emeritus Professor Donald Fisher, the director of the celebrated Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory and the former head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, will deliver one of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Distinguished Faculty Lectures on Tuesday, October 18, at 4:00 p.m. Professor Fisher will be presented with the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest recognition bestowed to faculty by the campus, at the conclusion of the lecture. See event website.

The title of Professor Fisher’s lecture will be “The Eyes Have It: A Window into the Mind, and it will be presented in the Bernie Dallas Room of the Goodell Building on campus. This lecture is free and open to the public, and a reception follows Fisher’s presentation. For information, call 413-577-1101.

Fisher’s Human Performance Laboratory is a multi-disciplinary research facility at UMass Amherst, based in the MIE department. Since its founding in the 1980s, the lab’s research has focused on driver behavior and driver safety. Fisher is a renowned national expert on distracted driving and other related issues.  

As Dr. Fisher explains the topic of his lecture, “A common thread links long-standing questions in cognitive science, gerontology, transportation, and healthcare. Cognitive scientists want to know whether we really need to put aside our cell phones while driving. Gerontologists want to know whether some of our cognitive processes can be spared as we age. Transportation specialists want to know why younger and older drivers crash so often. Healthcare officials want to know why some 100,000 deaths each year are attributed to medical errors. In seeking answers to these and other questions, we need to understand how to use information that arrives at the eyes in order to shed light on the latent cognitive processes that govern performance.

Fisher adds that “This lecture will show how such an understanding can help answer these questions and why such an understanding is essential in a time when machines (e.g., autonomous vehicles) are seemingly making such understanding ever less necessary.”

Fisher earned his Ph.D. in mathematical psychology at the University of Michigan after receiving an Ed.M. in child development and social policy at Harvard and a B.A. in philosophy and chemistry at Bowdoin. He joined the UMass Amherst faculty in 1982 following a teaching appointment at Indiana University.

An author of dozens of studies, many of them related to cognition and traffic safety, he sits on the editorial boards of the publications Human Factors and IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors(October 2016)