NEWSMAKER: Marcel Just
Noteworthy: The Carnegie Mellon University professor has been selected to receive the Society for Text and Discourse Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. It is given to scholars who make significant strides in how people comprehend language and text.
Residence: Squirrel Hill. Originally from Montreal, Canada.
Family: Partner, Barbara, and two sons, ages 29 and 34.
Education: Just did his undergraduate work at McGill University in Montreal and earned his Ph.D. at Stanford.
Background: Just has spent his career at CMU since coming to the university as an assistant professor at age 24. His research has centered on how what the eye sees leads to what the brain understands. He founded and is director of CMU's Scientific Imaging and Brain Research Center. He and his colleagues have developed a theory of autism called unconnectivity theory, which suggests the cause is poor communication between the front and rear of the brain. In addition, he and a colleague used machine-learning techniques and brain-imagining data to identify the contents of thoughts, allowing the researchers to technically read the minds of people in a brain scanner.
Quote: “In 1994, I had the opportunity to run my first MRI. All these years, I'd be speculating, developing theories about what was going on inside the mind. For the first time, we could see the activity in the brain, and I've never looked back.”
— by Megan Guza