Science Lecture Series

The Science Lecture Series at Otterbein University was established in 1987 under the leadership of Dr. Philip Barnhart, Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Dr. Jerry Jenkins, Chair of the Department of Chemistry. The George W. and Mildred K. White Science Seminar Fund sponsors the annual scientific seminars. Through these seminars, national leaders in science and technology share their insights about the future of scientific endeavor.

The Science Lecture Series is coordinated by a committee, chaired by the Office of Academic Affairs and comprised of the Science Outreach Coordinator and representatives from the Science Division, including the departments of Chemistry, Equine Science, Psychology, Nursing, Physics and Astronomy, Life and Earth Sciences, and Mathematical and Computer Sciences.

2020 Science Lecture Speaker: Dr. Jim Tanaka

The George W. and Mildred K. White Science Lecture Series at Otterbein University will present a free public lecture by Dr. Jim Tanaka, a perceptual psychologist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. 

6:00 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020
Riley Auditorium, Battelle Fine Arts Center
170 W. Park Street
The lecture will be followed by a reception in the Battelle Center lobby.

Our face is our identity. It is who we were in the past, who we are in the present, and who we will be in the future. But are the cognitive processes and neural mechanisms involved in own-face recognition different from the recognition of other highly familiar faces, such as the face of our best friend or spouse? In his talk, Dr. Tanaka will present and critique the psychological and brain research investigating the special status of own face recognition. He will discuss the infant and animal research that employs self-recognition as a marker of consciousness and self-awareness. Finally, he will speculate how social media and the proliferation of selfie’s might influence our sense of self and whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Dr. Tanaka, a perceptual psychologist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, will share his ground-breaking research in the field of cognitive and neurological processes underlying object and face recognition. His research has brought him to working with children with autism, utilizing special technology designed to help improve their facial recognition abilities.

Tanaka is an internationally recognized researcher in the vision sciences who studies the cognitive processes and neural mechanisms of face and object recognition. He has devoted much of his career toward understanding the processes of face recognition in people on the autism spectrum. Many people on the spectrum have difficulty recognizing faces and understanding facial expressions which results in problems in their everyday lives. In 2009, Tanaka established UVic’s Centre for Autism Research, Technology and Education (CARTE) composed of faculty, students, professionals and families, dedicated to the design, testing and implementation of new technologies in autism. By creating “new tools for different minds,” the work of Tanaka and his group have improved the lives of thousands of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

About the George W. & Mildred K. White Science Lecture Series at Otterbein

Established in 1987, the George W. and Mildred K. White Science Lecture Series at Otterbein University sponsors annual scientific seminars that bring national leaders in science and technology to campus to share their insights about the future of scientific endeavor. Past speakers have included Dr. Robert Grubbs, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry; Dr. Tina Henkin, 2006 winner of the National Academies of Science Pfizer Prize; Dr. Steven Pinker, Harvard professor and renowned experimental psychologist; Dr. Andrea Ghez, an international expert in observational astrophysics; Dr. Sean B. Carroll, a leading voice of evolutionary science in the U.S.; animal behaviorist Dr. Steve Nowicki; and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dr. William D. Phillips.