AVA Awards Recipients Report - Callum Mole

Geoffrey J. Burton Memorial Award

The AVA Geoffrey Burton Travel Award enabled me to attend this year’s Vision Sciences Society conference in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida. I presented a poster entitled ‘Steering control using feedback from near road edges does not rely upon retinal flow’. The poster session was immensely useful and actually a very entertaining experience. It was a pleasure finding out what my research ‘heroes’ thought of my work. Two others from my laboratory were presenting closely related work in the same poster session, and the poster session showcased the work of our lab well, hopefully preparing the scientific community for our forthcoming manuscripts.

VSS is one of the biggest vision conferences in the world and the perfect place to meet the scientists populating my reference list, and discovering that they are, in fact, regular human beings. It was also a great opportunity to network – to meet fellow PhD students and Post-Docs from other laboratories who will be the potential reviewers and employers of the future. Whilst this was entertaining in itself (facilitated by white sandy beaches, ice tea, and grouper sandwiches) I think this networking will have been invaluable to begin building my international collaborative network.

The conference was incredibly well organised, and the breadth and depth of research at the conference was quite amazing, varying from a keynote by Bruno Olshausen on “Vision in brains and machines” to a thoroughly entertaining talk by Michael McBeath on the “Mexican” La Ola Wave. The process of completing a PhD, writing a thesis and hunkering over data modelling and analysis scripts, can easily become an isolating and insular process, so I found the immersion in the varied world of vision science both inspiring and motivating – two things sorely needed as I furiously embark on completing my thesis.

A particular highlight of VSS was the infamous demonstration night, in which, the dress heavily featured. Other entertaining demonstrations were the Reverse Stroop Battle hosted by Cambridge Research Systems, which is the perfect game for vision scientists (not least because it requires very little co-ordination), Thatcherising my own face, strobe ping pong, and a plethora of bamboozling visual illusions.

I would like to thank AVA for their financial support – I would not have been able to attend the conference without it!

Callum Mole
University of Leeds