Meet: Jim Stevenson
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Who I Am
I am an experimental psychologist. I am also blind. My work has applications
for sighted as well as blind people. It involves representing mathematics,
graphs, statistics, statistical structures what we call stochastic
processes and Markov chains in multiple variables in each of those
and representing them as sound. So they are tone encoded sonic representations
of complex data structures.
This is basic research any scientist could use it
to either add sound to a graphical display or to put into sound more dimensions
than can be displayed graphically. There is considerable evidence that
the ears can hear patterns in different ways, different kinds of temporal
pattern that the eyes detect best. It is another mode for data analysis.
It could be used in medical imaging. It could be used in astronomical
analysis. It has already been already been tested in representation of
infrared spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy in chemistry.
My Career Path
At Pomona College I had a double major in math and psychology. Then I
attended Stanford University for my Doctorate in Experimental Psychology.
My thesis was on experimental hypnosis. I took a lot of math courses along
the way and then I took a post doctorate in biostatistics, and another
post doctorate year as statistical genetics.
Then I came to work at NASA Ames Research Center
were I was the statistical consultant on a number of projects including
the Aviation Safety Reporting System as it was being set up.
Now I am doing full time auditory display sonification
I have many mentors along the way. Jack Kilgard at Stanford University,
who ran the hypnosis lab, was tremendously instructive in the method of
doing experiments scientifically.
As a child
I was always interest in mathematics. In the eighth grade I was in a math
class where mathematics was presented merely as an arbitrary set of rules
but as rules derived for a reason. Once mathematics were rationalized
I couldn't get enough of it. I would read the next two years books over
the summer and skip the courses in high school.
The sonification work that I am doing now is deeply
connected to turning mathematical functions into sound.
Learn as much math and science as possible. Don't be afraid of the hard
classes. Take on the challenge and learn as much as you can.
I spend a lot of time on the Internet in new groups. I am very interested
in ideas of Ayn Rand called Physical Objectivism, meaning that the only
means we have of knowing reality is reason. The individual is supreme
in rights and should not be sacrificed to the state.