Professor & Graduate Program Director, Cognitive Science
While many cognitive scientists simplify their lives by studying one facet of human cognition (e.g., language or memory or visual perception), I complicate mine by studying ``cognitive control'' -- specifically cognitive control of immediate interactive behavior. This complication requires my students and I to account for not just cognitive elements -- knowledge, plans, strategies -- but also the real time aspects -- the fact that the world is changing and that in many situations even ``doing nothing'' reflects a decision to do nothing. It encompasses perception and action as both drivers and servants of cognition.
The tasks which we study range from the simple (such as nBack or AX-CPT) to the more complex (such as Phone Company Operators interacting with customers or Submarine Commanders hunting their enemies in deep waters). Lately we have turned to video games such as Tetris™, Space Fortress, and League of Legends™. (If you are interested in applying to grad school to work with me, please see my “In search of” page -- its link is in the “Latest Content” box [towards the upper right]. Also see our recent publications [the link to “Online Publications” is at the upper left].) For the first two, we study the acquisition of expertise down to the point-of-gaze, in our laboratory. For the latter, we mostly rely on a Big Data approach for mining publicly accessible APIs. These studies have led us to develop the Plateau, Dips, & Leaps approach to study the acquisition of extreme expertise by individuals and into issues of human-human (teams) and human-robot interactions.
Our basic and applied research feed into each other and are supported by a core of common techniques and methods including cognitive modeling, cognitive task analysis, and detailed collection and analysis of behaviors that take less than 1000 milliseconds to occur (e.g., eye gaze, keystrokes, and mouse movements) and which occur in near instantaneous response to dynamic system events.
Professor Gray earned his Ph.D. from U. C. Berkeley in 1979. His first position was with the U. S. Army Research Institute where he worked on tactical team training (at the Monterey Field Unit) and later on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to training for air-defense systems (HAWK) (at ARI-HQ Alexandria, VA). He spent a post-doctoral year with Prof. John R. Anderson's lab at Carnegie Mellon University before joining the AI Laboratory of NYNEX' Science & Technology Division. At NYNEX he applied cognitive task analysis and cognitive modeling to the design and evaluation of interfaces for large, commercial telecommunications systems. His academic career began at Fordham University and then moved to George Mason University. He joined the Cognitive Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2002.
Gray is a Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society, the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society (HFES), and the American Psychological Association (APA). In 2008, APA awarded him the Franklin V. Taylor Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Applied Experimental & Engineering Psychology. He is a past Chair of the Cognitive Science Society and the founding Chair of the Human Performance Modeling technical group of HFES. At present he is a Consulting Editor for the Psychological Review and the Executive Editor for the Cognitive Science Society’s first new journal in 30 years, Topics in Cognitive Science (topiCS). In 2012, he was elected a Fellow by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and spent his sabbatical in research at the Max Planck Institute Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition (ABC) in Berlin. Most recently, he received an IBM Faculty Award from IBM's Cognitive Systems Institute.