The Psychology Department’s Black Scholar Series: Duane Watson

Date / Time

March 6, 2023 - March 7, 2023

All Day


UIC Psychology Presents: The Black Scholar Series 2022-2023

Duane Watson | Monday and Tuesday, March 6-7, 2023 

Speaker Bio: Duane Watson is the associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion and the Frank W. Mayborn Chair of Psychology and Human Development in Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. He earned his AB in psychology from Princeton University, and received his doctorate in cognitive science from MIT After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester, Watson joined the department of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He moved to the department of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University in 2016. Watson’s research focuses on the cognitive processes that underlie language production, comprehension, and reading. His research has been funded by both the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. He is currently an associate editor at the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, and has served on the Psychonomic Society Governing Board since 2018. He was the 2021 Chair of the Psychonomic Society Governing Board. Watson is also a co-founder of the SPARK Society, an organization that works towards increasing the number of historically marginalized groups in the brain and cognitive sciences. He currently serves on the SPARK Society Governing Board.

Monday, March 6, 2023
1–2:30 p.m.
Main Lecture: “Understanding the Link Between Language Experience and Language Processing”

A speaker’s language environment plays an important role in language use. The language environment is critical for language learning and vocabulary growth in children, and in predicting the difficulty of processing words and sentences in adults. In this talk Watson will present a set of studies that will show that the relationship between language exposure and language use is complex. Watson will present experimental evidence suggesting that daily internet reading habits are linked to individual language processing styles. On the other hand, Watson will also present evidence showing that multiple exposures to certain types of sentences do not necessarily make these sentences easier to understand for listeners. Finally, Watson will discuss some of the ways in which the spoken language environment can play a role in language use, and will present a pilot study showing that social factors, such as a shared opinion with a conversational partner, can influence subtle linguistic factors such as speech rhythm. Registration.

2:45–3:45 p.m.
Affinity Session: 
The Affinity Session provides the opportunity for Black students, staff and faculty to come together in community with each other and the visiting scholar to collectively reflect on their realities of being Black and in the field of psychology. Registration.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Noon-1 p.m.
Special Session: “How can Psychologists Improve Equity and Inclusion in the Field?”

In this session, Watson will share his experiences working as a Black scientist in the predominantly White field of cognitive psychology. He will discuss his experiences co-founding the SPARK Society, an organization whose mission it is to increase the number of Black and Brown cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists, as well as his experiences as an Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.  Registration.

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