Colour conversations across Europe — a report from the travels supported by the Tom Troscianko Memorial Award
Supported by the AVA Tom Troscianko award, this August I embarked on a three-week-long journey. I visited four different cities in three different countries, several labs, two major museums and a vision conference. I took trains and planes and caught an overnight ferry ride across the North Sea. It was a great science-driven adventure.
My first major destination was the European Conference in Visual Perception, this year held in Belgrade. There, I co-organized a symposium on “Advances in studying the perception of surface properties”. As a part of the symposium, I also presented my current work on studying colour constancy using naturalistic tasks. I received valuable comments on this work from the colleagues in the field, but I was even more pleased with the overall success of the symposium, which sparked lively discussion among the vision scientists who study lightness, colour and material perception. This discussion continued throughout the meeting and brought forward ideas for future workshops and collaborations.
The second major component of my trip was a weeklong visit to Anya Hurlbert’s lab at Newcastle University. For more than a year, my post-doctoral supervisor Dr. David Brainard and I have been closely collaborating with Professor Hurlbert and her graduate student Bradley Pearce on a project aiming to characterize human sensitivity to changes in illumination in real and simulated scenes. I have been leading the component of this project in the Brainard lab, designing and conducting experiments that use simulated stimuli. The visit to the Hurlbert lab was my first chance to experience first-hand the real-scene version of these experiments, and to learn more about the multi-channel LED-based spectrally tunable illumination sources that make precise control of illumination possible in such scenes. Gaining experience with this novel technology, which is currently unique to the Hurlbert lab, was very valuable, particularly because I intend to employ the naturalistic tasks that I have been developing for studying colour constancy in real stimulus scenes in my future research.
During this visit I also gave a talk about my current work at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, and had the opportunity to visit the labs of Dr. Gabriele Jordan and Dr. Quoc Vuong, members of the Newcastle vision group, and enjoy great conversations on colour vision and beyond.
On my trip I also visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where I searched for inspiration for future work. Finally, in London I went to the National Gallery, where I saw the “Making Colour” exhibition — a fascinating journey through the history of pigments combined with a large-scale colour constancy experiment — co-organized by Anya Hurlbert.
I am indebted to AVA for supporting my travel, and to Tom for the inspiration on how to balance a passion for life with a passion for science.