DR. SUSAN E. BRENNAN, Stony Brook University
As multimedia technology and the Internet become ever more ubiquitous, it is essential to understand how people use verbal and nonverbal information in both face-to-face and mediated settings. Professor Susan Brennan's work has been influential in understanding the interplay of visual and linguistic information in task-oriented communication, as well as in exploring new uses for eye-tracking and speech technology.
A leader in Stony Brook's cognitive science community, Dr. Brennan has been instrumental in building interdisciplinary teams to pursue innovative research questions and to train graduate students across disciplines. Her research focuses on language use and visual communication in discourse contexts, using behavioral experiments, corpus analysis, simulation, and most recently, eye-tracking. She is particularly interested in how people achieve a joint focus of attention in conversation, how they coordinate speaking and understanding, how they adapt their speech to one another, and how they avoid and repair misunderstanding. She applies her findings to the human use of technology, both in multimedia interfaces to computer "partners" and in mediated communication between remotely located pairs of people. Increasingly, collaborating with other people is as likely to take place over distance or time as it is face-to-face. Professor Brennan's newest project (with collaborators in Stony Brook's Psychology, Linguistics, and Computer Science Departments) aims to make speech interfaces to computers more adaptive to their human partners.
Professor Brennan, who received her master's degree from MIT and her doctorate from Stanford, joined the Psychology Department in 1990. She holds a joint appointment in Computer Science and is also associated with Linguistics. Her research has been continuously supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 1992, totaling over $3.5M in research funding, and she has served on NSF grant panels for seven years. She is currently Graduate Director and Associate Chair in Psychology. In addition to teaching and mentoring graduate students, Professor Brennan teaches cognitive psychology, psycholinguistics, and human factors to undergraduates. She is internationally visible, recently giving keynote and plenary addresses at EDILOG 2002 (Scotland), the 2000 Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Hong Kong), and the Elsnet Invited Address at Eurospeech 2001 (Denmark). She is currently associate editor of Discourse Processes and consulting editor of Psychological Science; previously she served as consulting editor of Computational Linguistics.