Cindy Bukach, associate professor of psychology at the University of Richmond, has received a $600,000 grant to further her research on human cognition.

The James S. McDonnell Foundation 21st Century Science Initiative in Understanding Human Cognition – Scholar Award will allow Bukach to continue exploring how brain and behavior become specialized for categories such as faces, and how these skills transfer or change through experience or brain injury.

“My research examines how category specificity in the brain emerges and changes over time and in different contexts,” Bukach explains. “My research contributes to fundamental scientific theory and also addresses questions of real-world relevance. For example, why is it difficult to recognize or interpret the emotional expressions and intentions of people we categorize differently from ourselves? How can we best train doctors to diagnose illnesses like skin cancer?”

Bukach’s grant will be used over an eight-year period, focusing in part on advancing research opportunities for undergraduate students. Bukach’s award will fund three undergraduate fellowships per year. “I found it difficult to find research opportunities when I returned to college to pursue a second degree after staying home for my children’s pre-school years,” Bukach shared. “I eventually found a faculty member willing to let me become meaningfully involved in research, and I want to provide that same type of transformative experience for my students.”

Bukach has taught at UR since 2006. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.


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Associate Professor of Psychology
Chair, Department of Psychology
Object recognition
Cognitive and neural mechanisms of the development and loss of perceptual expertise across the
Organization of semantic knowledge
Category specificity in cognitively intact and impaired individuals
Face recognition