AVA Awards Recipients Report - Nathan Mifsud 2016

Tom Troscianko Memorial Award

Inspired by Tom’s larks and indiscriminate curiosity, I cycled 1,200 kilometres in Spain, France and Germany on a nonlinear trajectory anchored by several lab visits. I am deeply grateful to the AVA and ECVP 2016 committee for their generous support, as this unique, valuable opportunity was only made possible by receiving the Tom Troscianko Award.


My trip began by shifting spatial context from Sydney to Barcelona to attend the European Conference on Visual Perception, which was crowded with stimulating, varied research; a useful showcase of the field to this vision neophyte. I presented a talk on my novel use of saccadic movements to investigate neurophysiological attenuation of self-initiated stimuli, and met many friendly people, a couple of whom I converged with later in their hometowns.


Following the conference, I entered the Catalonian countryside and sweltering embrace of a luminous September. I pedalled the vertically oriented Pyrenees, tracked the southern French contour, underwent vineyard adaptation, had an eccentric time in Montpellier, ascended the salient Mont Ventoux (pictured!) and processed natural scenes in the lush Drôme region and stunning periphery of Grenoble. I surveyed occlusion and haptic properties of wild campsites, crossed the ignoble threshold of a holiday park, and was accommodated by many allocentric locals, who showed me local sights and cooked delicious dinners (saving me from foraging).


When I reached the Lyon Neuroscience Research Centre, I visited Anne Caclin and Aurélie Bidet-Caulet. I toured their MEG and EEG facilities, presented to their highly engaged team, and had lovely conversation about our research and clinical experiences. Next, I reflected on illusory borders at the Dreiländereck in Basel, and discovered Zaha Hadid’s Vitra Fire Station, a masterpiece of visual and vestibular playfulness. After another stint in the saddle through the splendid Black Forest, I caught a train to meet Markus Lappe at the University of Münster. We had fascinating discussion on optic flow, biological motion and much besides. His lab members gave me a warm reception, and I threw knives at robots in their VR room.


The final target was Paris, where I had the privilege and pleasure to meet Florian Waszak at the Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, whose work in action and prediction is closely related to my thesis topic. I also observed a journal club in which an intriguing equiluminance helmet prototype was exhibited. All in all, I had a brilliant six weeks. I am indebted to everyone mentioned and many others for their kindness, encouragement and assistance.


Nathan Mifsud (UNSW Australia)