Dr. Allison Sekuler completed her BA, double majoring in Mathematics and Psychology at Pomona College, 1986; and her PhD in Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, 1990. She was the first Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience (2001-2011), and is a Professor, Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University.
Her current research is funded by NSERC and CIHR, and focuses on vision science, aging, cognitive neuroscience, neural plasticity, learning, face perception, and neurotechnology. Dr. Sekuler has conducted foundational, applied, and clinical research (including research in schizophrenia and autism).
Dr. Sekuler is also an expert in broader areas of higher education, including interdisciplinarity, internationalization, professional development training, and equity, diversity, and inclusivity (EID); and she has won numerous national and international awards for research, teaching and leadership.
Dr. Sekuler has over a decade of experience in University-level administration, serving as McMaster’s first Associate Vice-President (Research), as Associate Vice-President and Dean of Graduate Studies, and twice as the interim Vice-President (Research). Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Sekuler spearheaded McMaster's unique Indigenous Undergraduate Summer Research Scholar Program; supported interdisciplinary academic and research programs, including creation of the McMaster Indigenous Research Institute; and led development of MyGradSkills.ca, a free online professional skills training program for graduate students. She currently is leading development of @mentorsWISE, a virtual mentoring program for women in science and engineering.
Dr. Sekuler is committed to knowledge translation, serving as President of the Royal Canadian Institute for the advancement of science; creating video columns for Discovery Channel; developing public outreach
programs, such as Science in the City; popularizing international programs like Café Scientifique and the 3 Minute Thesis in Canada; and co-founding the successful #ScienceSunday platform.
She has served on and chaired provincial, federal, and international grant review panels and boards related to her research and to education. She currently serves on the Board of Governors for Hillfield Strathallan College; the Governing Board for the Ontario Council of Universities (co-Chair, Academic Colleagues); and NSERC's Committee on Discovery Research (Chair, Fellowships & Scholarships).
Industry Expertise (4)
Writing and Editing
Areas of Expertise (16)
Face and Object Recognition
Professional Development Training
Women in Science and Engineering
University of California, Berkeley: Ph.D., Psychology
Pomona College: B.A., Mathematics and Psychology
- Professor of Psychology Neuroscience & Behaviour McMaster University
- Member McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery & Study Graduate Program McMaster University
- Member School of Computational Science and Engineering Graduate Program McMaster University
- Adjunct Member Centre for Vision Research York University
Media Appearances (5)
McMaster University projects awarded $3.3 million to address auto industry, nuclear safety
"We are delighted that McMaster was awarded funding for two CREATE projects", says Allison Sekuler, interim vice-president, research, noting that only 13 projects were awarded across the country.
McMaster breaking barriers for indigenous students
The Hamilton Spectator online
"We wanted to let students know that they are not alone out there, that they're not the only ones that want to be a physicist or a historian … that there is a route they can take to achieve their dreams and their goals," said Allison Sekuler, professor of psychology and acting vice-president of research at McMaster...
Faculty jobs are rare, but Canada still needs its PhDs
The Globe and Mail online
Fast-forward back to the present, for Janey’s first day as a graduate student: Her eyes are now filled with dread and uncertainty about her future. Janey loves her field of study, but she knows that the years when a PhD was the ticket to a professorship at a prestigious research institution are as long gone as those joyful days of finger painting and puddle splashing...
McMaster aims to grow number of indigenous grad students in Canada
The Globe and Mail online
Allison Sekuler, acting vice-president of research and psychology professor at McMaster, was inspired to create the program after hearing about a similar one in the United States. She said when aboriginals do access postsecondary education, it can be in a “roundabout,” or “circuitous,” way...
Training the brain to sharpen your eyesight
Herald Tribune online
“There’s an idea out there that everything falls apart as we get older, but even older brains are growing new cells,” said Allison B. Sekuler, a professor of psychology, neuroscience and behavior at McMaster University in Ontario, who was not involved in the new study. “You can teach an older brain new tricks.”...
On the time course of attentional focusing in older adultsPsychological Research
2015 Many sensory and cognitive changes accompany normal ageing, including changes to visual attention. Several studies have investigated age-related changes in the control of attention to specific locations (spatial orienting), but it is unknown whether control over the distribution or breadth of attention (spatial focus) also changes with age. In the present study, we employed a dual-stream attentional blink task and assessed changes to the spatial distribution of attention through the joint consequences of temporal lag and spatial separation on second-target accuracy...
A robust and representative lower bound on object processing speed in humansEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
2015 How early does the brain decode object categories? Addressing this question is critical to constrain the type of neuronal architecture supporting object categorization. In this context, much effort has been devoted to estimating face processing speed. With onsets estimated from 50 to 150 ms, the timing of the first face-sensitive responses in humans remains controversial. This controversy is due partially to the susceptibility of dynamic brain measurements to filtering distortions and analysis issues...
Comparing face processing strategies between typically-developed observers and observers with autism using sub-sampled-pixels presentation in response classification techniqueVision Research
2013 In the present study we modified the standard classification image method by subsampling visual stimuli to provide us with a technique capable of examining an individual’s face-processing strategy in detail with fewer trials. Experiment 1 confirmed that one testing session (1450 trials) was sufficient to produce classification images that were qualitatively similar to those obtained previously with 10,000 trials...
Inversion leads to quantitative, not qualitative, changes in face processingCurrent Biology
2004 Humans are remarkably adept at recognizing objects across a wide range of views. A notable exception to this general rule is that turning a face upside down makes it particularly difficult to recognize. This striking effect has prompted speculation that inversion qualitatively changes the way faces are processed. Researchers commonly assume that configural cues strongly influence the recognition of upright, but not inverted, faces.
Perception of partly occluded objects: A microgenetic analysis.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
1992 The sensory information specifying objects is often optically incomplete: Objects occlude parts of themselves and other objects. However, people rarely experience difficulty in perceiving complete 3-dimensional forms. This report describes a paradigm for the objective study of completion effects and their microgenesis.