It has often been said that two heads are better than one—but are they more effective? Graduate student, Géraldine Jeckeln in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas investigates wisdom-of-crowds effects in face recognition—specifically collaborative decision making. Her current research involves investigating the performance of forensic face identification examiners. Geraldine took a pause to share her research with us as well as render advice to her younger self.
What led you to pursue your research?
While I was completing my undergraduate degree, I was particularly interested in face perception and recognition, and I continuously sought opportunities to learn more about the field. As I started to delve deeper into this topic in my classes and seminars, I became familiar with the literature and came across Dr. O’Toole’s work. As I read more about the diverse topics investigated by her and her lab, I set my sights on completing my graduate research in her lab. I am thankful for all the research opportunities Dr. O’Toole has provided and all that I have learned from my colleagues ever since I joined the lab. Currently, my research focuses on the effects of collaborative decision making on face identification tasks. I am also involved in a project investigating forensic face examination.
What are some of the challenges you face?
One of the challenges we often face when conducting our research is limited access to a sample of participants that adequately represents the general population, with substantial variation in gender, ethnicity, and age.
How do you see your research making an impact in the future?
Whether for age verification, crossing international borders, or as evidence in criminal convictions, face identification decisions are often used to determine an individual’s identity. Therefore, our goal is to find ways to improve face identification performance in applied settings where errors (e.g., eyewitness misidentification, erroneous convictions, etc.) can lead to serious consequences. For instance, some of the research currently conducted in the lab examines the benefits of combining individual human judgments on face identification tasks with that of novel face recognition algorithms.
What advice would you give to the younger version of yourself?
The advice I would give to myself is to spend more time exploring broader areas of research. I noticed that as I became more enthralled by understanding face perception as a graduate student, I started to devote less time to other topics outside of cognitive science. Therefore, I would tell myself to enroll in different courses (e.g., linguistics, nutritional biology, genetics, etc.) and read literature that encompasses a broad variety of research areas beyond my primary topic of research.