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Back From Louisiana
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Well, I went down to Lafayette this weekend and met with some faculty and graduate students at UL. An interesting mix, mostly nice and smart and professional. Dr. Cech (pronounced "check") is the director. He's working with how we store relationships in memory and also how communication varies depending on the medium (face-to-face, computer chat, etc.). Others are studying the cognitive basis of creativity by looking in depth at case studies of creative individuals. Others are doing linguistic work regarding spatial concepts.

The people I met in the department are much more psychology-centered than where my interests lie, but there are other faculty that were on vacation who are working more actively with modeling cognition, rather than studying it.

A couple of things I learned that I didn't know. Part of UL is the New Iberia Primate Research Center, which has over 5,000 nonhuman primates from 11 species, including chimpanzees. Apparently much of the research is pharmaceutical, though there is some opportunity to do more behavioral and neurological research. Dr. Cech spoke as if not a lot of this was currently going on, though.

I also learned that UL had an entry, CajunBot, into last year's DARPA Grand Challenge (the content for creating an autonomous ground vehicle). It doesn't sound like anybody from the CogSci program was involved with the project, but I'd definitely like to talk with some of the people working on it.

Anyway, it was a good trip...made me feel better about the decision to go back to school. That could change, of course, but for now I'm pretty excited and optimistic.

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