Dueck, CENTEC Win 16th Annual Award for Scholarship

by Rashad Mulla

Dueck, CENTEC Win 16th Annual Award for Scholarship
Colin Dueck (right) and the Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition (one of their research projects is on the left) are this year's Award for Scholarship WInners.

For the past 15 years, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences has highlighted and recognized faculty members for their consistent excellence in recent scholarship. This year however, for the first time in its history, CHSS is honoring an individual faculty member and an entire center. Colin Dueck, associate professor in the Department of Public and International Affairs, and the Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition (CENTEC) are the winners of the 16th annual Award for Scholarship.

Dueck is an expert in U.S. foreign policy, international strategy, diplomacy, and conservative American politics.

Throughout his career, he has written articles for a variety of prestigious publications, such as International Security, Orbis, Political Science Quarterly, the Review of International Studies, Security Studies, and World Policy Journal. In his work, he examines American foreign policy and international strategy from a variety of angles. His 2010 Policy Review article is titled, “Regaining a Realistic Foreign Policy.” He is the author of two books, most recently, “Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II,” published in 2010.

In a forthcoming scholarly article, he will examine the role of the national security advisor during the 2006 Iraqi troop “surge,” in which the president dramatically increased the amount of U.S. foot soldiers in Iraq. He is also in the process of writing a book on recent U.S. foreign policy strategies. Dueck describes the U.S. as moving toward an “offshore balance” scenario, emphasizing long distance strikes, foreign aid and diplomatic maneuvering in an effort to lessen a large military presence overseas. He plans to write a comprehensive review of this policy, which is highly relevant on a worldwide scale.

“To this day, the U.S. is the world’s leading power,” he said. “The decisions that the U.S. president makes in foreign policy can be very consequential, not only for Americans, but for the rest of the world as well. Overseas, every single utterance of foreign policy is followed very closely.”

Dueck was honored to receive the award.

“From what I understand, not many [faculty members] receive this award, so it’s very flattering,” he said.

The other winner, CENTEC, is directed by Raja Parasuraman, University Professor in the Department of Psychology. He directs a group of 10 faculty (7 in the Department of Psychology) and several postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students.

CENTEC was launched on July 15, 2010 and is funded by the United States Air Force, initially for a period of five years with a grant of $7.5 million. The center conducts research on neuroergonomics, a relatively new field that examines brain function in relation to performance, safety and efficiency in practical and work environments. The center works on projects for the Air Force, with the aim of enhancing human effectiveness in air, space and cyberspace operations. The Air Force is currently interested in how brain mechanisms affect regular tasks. CENTEC staff is tackling this mandate with three areas of focus: scholarly research, graduate student and postdoctoral fellow training (CENTEC funds 8-10 students each year), and collaboration with Air Force scientists, including an exchange program with scientists at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

Since the center’s inception, CENTEC scholars have been published in a variety of journals, including NeuroImage, Public Library of Science One, and the Journal of Neuroscience. Currently, the center is working on eight project areas. One project area deals with training the brain to accelerate learning of difficult perceptual and cognitive tasks using low-level “transcranial direct current stimulation,” a non-invasive brain stimulation technique. In a second project, CENTEC is developing better computer interfaces to control large numbers of unmanned reconnaissance and patrol vehicles. In a third project, the center is exploring genetic contributions to differences between people's tendencies to exhibit “automation bias,” which refers to the level of trust individuals have in computerized systems, even in the event that those systems exhibit faults.

“We now know quite a lot about brain mechanisms and cognition,” Parasuraman said. “It’s a natural next step to use our understanding of what’s going on in the brains of individuals to inform our decisions on how to make devices and systems more usable.”

Parasuraman noted that the center winning the award is a significant achievement.

“[This award] shows the value of interdisciplinary work,” he said. “Increasingly, in the world of science and social science, most of the grand and difficult challenges and problems require interdisciplinary approaches.”

Dueck and CENTEC will be recognized at the Celebration of Scholarship on Nov. 12, 2012.