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The University of Southampton

New Head of Psychology begins tenure at University of Southampton

Published: 11 August 2015
Professor Erik Reichle

Erik Reichle, Professor of Cognitive Psychology is now Head of Psychology at the University of Southampton, taking over from Professor Nick Donnelly who has held the role for ten years.

Both academics are members of the University’s Centre for Vision and Cognition research group. Professor Reichle’s research uses techniques of computational modelling, eye-movement experiments, and brain imaging to understand the perceptual, cognitive, and motor processes involved in reading; he has authored more than 60 articles on these topics in leading international journals.

Erik holds fellowships from the German Hanse Institute of Advanced Studies and the UK’s Leverhulme Trust and is on on the editorial boards of Journal of Eye Movement Research, Language and Linguistics Compass, Psychological Review, and Visual Cognition.

“It is vital to understand more about reading because it is the most important skill for people to develop in literate societies.,” he explains. “We need to understand what is happening in the mind during reading, especially the visual processes that enable us to encode individual works, the cognitive processes to retrieve the meaning of the words and building representations of the text, and the motor skills that are involved in moving the eyes from one word to the next. We now have a critical mass of academics in this specialism at Southampton and are well positioned to make breakthroughs in understanding what determines what happens in the mind of a reader when they are reading sentences on a page or online.”

Erik joined the University in 2013 after eight months as a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Southampton during his time as an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Earlier he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

He studied for his BSc degree in Psychology at Iowa State University, then took an MSc and PhD in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Erik’s book Computational Models of Reading will be published in the coming year. It reviews and evaluates the types of models he uses in his research and describes a new integrative computer model of the mental processes that are involved during reading.

Psychology at Southampton enjoys a high reputation for world-class research. All of its academic research submitted for the latest UK Government assessment of quality (REF 2014) was rated world-leading or internationally excellent for its impact on society and research environment. Psychology is ranked in the top ten of the 2016 Guardian newspaper university league tables and 11th in The Complete University Guide and has just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Southampton psychologists work in three divisions: Clinical Neuroscience, Cognition and Human Wellbeing which comprise an array of research centres. Recent research projects include improving the quality of life for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, improving the effectiveness of security screening in airports and warzones and improving quality of life for people suffering from dizziness and balance disorders.

“My aim is to build on Nick’s fantastic achievements and continue to grow this exciting department at Southampton as a world-leading centre of Psychology,” says Erik.

Watch Professor Reichle’s inaugural lecture to discover more about his research.


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