What Is A Reedie, Anyway? (continued)

Juliet wrote her thesis on visual processing, operated Reed’s nuclear reactor, and sang a capella with the Herodotones.  Photo by Matt D'Annunzio

Juliet Shafto psychology

Hometown: Livingston, New Jersey

Adviser: Prof. Michael Pitts [psychology 2011–]

Thesis: “Neural Signatures of Conscious Face Perception: The N170 is Absent during Inattentional Blindness”

What it’s about: My thesis examines how the process of visual perception differs for unseen images, specifically faces, using electrical potentials recorded at the scalp. Faces are especially interesting because they are some of the most important visual stimuli we encounter, and as a consequence they are processed uniquely from other objects.

What it’s really about: Trying to prevent people from noticing a face for 10 straight minutes.

Who I was when I got to Reed: I was hoping that just maybe Reed could be even close to as amazing as it sounded (spoiler alert: it was). I’m a reasonably content person, but when I got to Reed it was like: “Wow! I was missing out on a lot of things.” I was a bit of a loner. I spent most of my time working and didn’t seek out people very often. Then I got here and made amazing friends. The people I met here had a willingness to engage in dialogue about anything and really delve into any issue. I’m still busy with work all the time, but now that’s what my friends do, too.

Influential book: When I was very little I used to read a lot of comics. I loved “Calvin and Hobbes.” My dad used to say I learned a lot about the world that way, because I’d read these comics and ask, “What must be true about the world in order for this to be funny?”

Favorite spot: The EEG lab in the psych building is called the SCALP Lab, which stands for Sensation, Cognition, Attention, Language, and Perception. It’s where I did most of the work for my thesis and has an entire wall of windows, which makes all the difference.

Cool stuff I did: Operated the nuclear reactor. Sang soprano with an a cappella group, the Herodotones. Played the guitar and ukulele with a lot of friends.

How Reed changed me: I used to think of “paradigm” as the quintessential jargon word that means nothing. But when you’re in psychology you actually use that word a lot, and it’s pretty meaningful. I also believe in the power of friendship.

Scholarships, awards or financial aid: Work-study, loans, Reed grants, and various named scholarships each year.

What I would tell prospies: Keep doing the things you love. You don't have to know exactly where you are headed right now, but if you continue to pursue what you care about, you'll find a path that works for you. (Or, at the very least, you won't be bored.) 

What’s next: I’m headed to Carnegie Mellon to study visual perception and cognitive neuroscience.