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Theory and Research

Researchers in the Field
Meet some of the educators, psychologists, and scientists whose work inspires the field.

Judith BurtonJudith Burton, Teachers College, Columbia University

Judith Burton is Professor and Director of Art & Art Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Previously, she was Chair of Art Education of Boston University and taught at the Massachusetts College of Art.  Dr. Burton received her Ed.D. from Harvard University in 1980. Her research focuses on the artistic-aesthetic development of children and adolescents, and the implications this has for teaching and learning. In 1995 she co-founded the Center for Research in Art Education at Teachers College, and in 1996 she founded the Heritage School – a comprehensive high school featuring the arts – located in Harlem, NYC. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters of books, and currently has two books in process of publication: A Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Visual Arts, and Creative and Mental Growth, 3rd Edition Revisited. She received the Manuel Barkan Award for excellence in research writing, and the Lowenfeld Award for lifetime achievement in art education from the National Art Education Association. Dr. Burton is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts in Great Britain, a Distinguished Fellow of the NAEA, and serves as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing, China.

Yuri DanilovYuri Danilov, University of Wisconsin

Yuri Danilov is an experimental and theoretical neuroscientist with extensive knowledge of the human sensory systems, including visual and vestibular sensory systems. He has actively researched visual neuroscience, tongue physiology and taste perception at the University of Wisconsin (UW) Madison during the last fifteen years. Previously, Dr. Danilov conducted intensive research in brain aging at the UW Regional Primate Research Center and the post traumatic compensation of visual function in the Department of Psychology, UW Madison. In 1998 he joined the Professor Paul Bach-y-Rita team of engineers and researchers to support development of the portable visual substitution system for people who are blind or have low vision. He is also the inventor and developer of the vestibular substitution system. Dr. Danilov received his Ph.D. from the Pavlov Institute of Physiology, Russian Academy of Science, where he studied the fine mechanisms of early vision.

John GardnerJohn Gardner, ViewPlus Technology, Inc.

John Gardner is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Oregon State University, and the founder and president of ViewPlus Technologies, Inc. He is internationally recognized as a leading expert on the physics of defects in materials. He has won a number of scientific awards, including the Humboldt Prize awarded by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. His physics research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Defense, NASA, and several private corporations and foundations.

After losing his sight in 1988 in mid-career, Dr. Gardner formed the Science Access Project ( to research and develop new technologies for access to complex information by people with print disabilities. ViewPlus Technologies ( is a spin-off company formed to commercialize the Tiger tactile graphics embosser technology and other technologies developed in the Science Access Project. It has grown to become a major access technology company with worldwide sales of millions of dollars per year. Dr. Gardner has presented hundreds of seminars, colloquia, and workshops; he has contributed and invited conference talks on physics and on information access by people with disabilities throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. He is considered a leading expert on access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) information.

Michael GravesMichael Graves, Michael Graves Associates
Michael Graves, FAIA, has been in the forefront of architecture and design since he founded his practice in 1964. Today, his two firms -- Michael Graves & Associates, the architecture and interior design practices, and Michael Graves Design Group, the product design and graphic design practices -- employ more than 100 people in offices in Princeton, New Jersey, and New York City.  Through its multiple studios, the services of the two firms are highly integrated, supporting a continuum among architecture, interiors, and furnishings, that result in a powerful lifestyle brand.

The architectural practice has designed more than 300 buildings worldwide encompassing many building types: large-scale master plans, corporate headquarters and other office buildings, hotels and resorts, restaurants and retail stores, facilities for sports and recreation, healthcare facilities, civic projects such as embassies, courthouses and monuments, a wide variety of university buildings, museums, theaters and public libraries, and both multifamily and single family housing. A native of Indianapolis, Graves received his architectural training at the University of Cincinnati and Harvard University. In 1960, he won the Rome Prize and studied at the American Academy in Rome, of which he is now a Trustee. In 1962, Mr. Graves began a nearly 40-year teaching career at Princeton University, where he is now the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, Emeritus. He has received 12 honorary doctorates and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. 

Michael Hanchett HansonMichael Hanchett Hanson, Teachers College, Columbia University

Michael Hanchett Hanson is a developmental and cognitive psychologist who specializes in the roles of cognitive semantics in creativity. He received his B.A. from Yale University and his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Columbia University. Today, Dr. Hanson is Director of the Masters Concentration in Creativity and Cognition at Teachers College, Columbia University. In that program he and his students conduct research concerning creative thinking across lifespan. He also has a consulting practice in curriculum design, working with organizations in the arts, boards of education and corporations. In that work he helps clients develop teaching and training programs that leverage their particular strengths.

Kojiro HiroseKojiro Hirose, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan

Kojiro Hirose completed his Ph.D. in Literature at Kyoto University in 2000. His current research interests include the history of new religions in modern Japan, including Oomotokyo and Reiyukai, focusing on the welfare work of each religious society. His on-going fieldwork concerns biwa-hoshi (blind minstrels), itako (blind shaman) and blind religionists or biwa (lute) players in Japan. Additionally, Dr. Hirose is applying an anthropological methodology to his comparative research on international disability culture, with inquiries into the occupation, life-style and history of people with disabilities in the U.S. and other countries. He intends to use this comparative study to help promote a "barrier-free" or "universal design" system for museums. 
Dr. Hirose’s publications include: Touch and Grow Rich: You Can Touch Our Museum! MINPAKU Anthropology Newsletter; Reconsidering Japanese Religious History: the Aum Incident and Blind Culture in Modern Japan in The Journal of the International Institute, University of Michigan; and Judo or Aikido: Propagation Strategies of Tenrikyo in the United States in Progress, Journal of the Tenrikyo Mission New York Center.

Morton A. HellerMorton A. Heller,  Professor of Psychology at Eastern Illinois University (EIU).

He  has edited four volumes, including the Psychology of Touch (Erlbaum) and Touch, Representation and Blindness (Oxford U. Press: UK ), and published numerous articles in refereed journals. His latest edited volume is Touch and Blindness: Psychology and Neuroscience (Erlbaum). He previously served as Chair of the Psychology Department at EIU. Heller is on the editorial board of Perception, and Perception & Psycholophysics.

David HowesDavid Howes,  Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia Universit, Montreal.

His research interests range from the anthropology of law and the sociology of art to cross-cultural psychology and the role of the senses in contemporary marketing and design. Together with Anthony Synnott, he founded the Concordia Sensoria Research Team in 1988, dedicated to exploring the varieties of sensory experience across cultures (see He has carried out research on the cultural life of the senses in Papua New Guinea, Argentina, and the American Southwest. He is the author of Sensual Relations (2003), co-author (with Constance Classen and Anthony Synnott) of Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (1994), and editor of Cross-Cultural Consumption: Global Markets, Local Realities (1996), Empire of the Senses: The Sensual Culture Reader (2004), and Culture in the Domain of Law (2005), among other works.

John KennedyJohn Kennedy, University of Toronto

John Kennedywas born in Belfast, where he went to university for his B.Sc. and M.Sc, before moving to the U.S. for graduate studies at Cornell. His first position was at Harvard, and then he moved to the University of Toronto, where he was Chair for the last three years, followed by a sabbatical in Salzburg, Florence, Copenhagen and Ireland. He was recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and given the Arnheim Prize by the American Psychological Association. His work on pictures and the blind was described by the New York Times as one of the ideas that change the way we think, and by The Times of  London as one of the top ten ideas of the year. For more information on Dr. Kennedy, visit his website at:

Steven LandauSteven Landau, Touch Graphics, Inc.

Steven Landau is Director of Research at Touch Graphics, Inc., a company he founded in 1997 to commercialize research on audio-tactile interactive computing, and to create new products for the blind and low-vision markets. The company has been the recipient of numerous U.S. government R&D grants, and has brought to market a Talking Tactile Tablet (TTT), a low-cost computer peripheral device that acts as a “viewer” for images produced in tactile (raised-line and textured) format. In 2006, the TTT won a Gold Medal in the IDEA Awards competition. 

The company also works in the area of museum accessibility, and is developing a new technology that empowers science museum visitors who are blind or have low vision to independently navigate and interact with exhibits using their own familiar cell phone as a controller for a network of environmental audio beacons.  In addition, Touch Graphics has carried out a series of exhibits that embody the principles of Universal Design, for institutions including the Smithsonian Institution, Science Museum of Minnesota, the National Building Museum, New York Hall of Science, and others.

Mr. Landau received a B.A. in Art from Oberlin College and a M.A. in Architecture from Harvard University.  He worked as a professional architect and educator for twelve years before forming Touch Graphics. He holds two patents in the field of assistive technology.

Alvaro Pascual-LeoneAlvaro Pascual-Leone, Harvard Medical Center, Neuroscience Lab

Alvaro Pascual-Leone, M.D.  Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He holds appointments as Adjunct Professor in Psychiatry and Neurobiology at Boston University, and in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Faculty of Arts and Science at Harvard University. Currently, he is also the Associate Director of the Harvard-Thorndike General Clinical Research Center and council member of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping. Dr. Pascual-Leone is Board Certified in Neurology and Neurophysiology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, a member of many professional societies, and the recipient of several honors and awards, including the Ramon y Cajal Award in Neuroscience (Spain), the Norman Geschwind Prize in Behavioral Neurology from the American Academy of Neurology, the Daniel D. Federman Outstanding Clinical Educator Award from the Harvard Medical School, and the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany).

Dr. Pascual-Leone's major areas of research interest are the physiology of higher cognitive functions and the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders, with a focus on the dynamic modification of brain function across the lifespan (Neural Plasticity), and the possibility of neuromodulation by brain stimulation techniques. He is the author of more than 200 papers in refereed professional journals, 2 books, and more than 50 chapters contributed to edited volumes.

Lotfi MerabetLotfi Merabet, Harvard Medical Center

Lotfi Merabet is a clinical researcher with the Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and investigator with the Boston Retinal Implant Project in Boston, MA. He has doctorates in both Neuroscience and Optometry, and maintains a clinical and faculty appointment in the departments of Ophthalmology and Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Merabet’s research interests focus on neuroplasticity and, in particular, on how the brain adjusts to the loss of sight and its relation to restoring functional vision and developing novel rehabilitative strategies for the blind.

Josh MieleJosh Miele, Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute

Josh Miele is an alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley where he received this B.A. in Physics and his Ph.D. in Psychoacoustics. His involvement with the development of accessible technology began in the early 1990s with outSPOKEN, an early screen reader for Macintosh computers. He is currently a Research Scientist at The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute's Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center. His research continues to involve the integration of inexpensive, mainstream technologies and the Internet to develop innovative approaches to information accessibility for blind and visually impaired people. Recent work has included research in the areas of tactile maps, audio/tactile graphics, auditory displays, and wayfinding technologies. Dr. Miele lives in Berkeley California with his wife and two children.

Nicholas MirzoeffNicholas Mirzoeff, New York University (NYU)

Nicholas Mirzoeffis Professor of Art and Art Professions, and Director of Visual Culture MA/PhD program at NYU-Steinhardt. His many publications include Silent Poetry: deafness, sign and visual culture in modern France (1995), An Introduction to Visual Culture (1999), and most recently Watching Babylon: The war in Iraq and Global Visual Culture.

Helen J. NevilleHelen J. Neville, University of Oregon

Helen J. Neville is currently the Robert and Beverly Lewis Endowed Chair and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Director of the Brain Development Lab, and Director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oregon in Eugene.  She was awarded a B.A. from the University of British Columbia, an M.A. from Simon Fraser University, and Ph.D. from Cornell University.  Her postdoctoral training was at the University of California, San Diego in the Department of Neurosciences.  Dr. Neville’s major research interests are the biological constraints and the role of experience in neurosensory and neurocognitive development in humans.

Helen PetrieHelen Petrie, University of York

Helen Petrie is Professor of Human Computer Interaction in the Department of Computer Science at the University of York in the UK. She originally trained in cognitive and experimental psychology before becoming interested in how people use computers and what makes them easy or difficult for people. She then undertook further studies in Computer Sciences. She has spent more than a decade conducting research on the use of computers and new technologies for people with disabilities and older people. Recently she investigated the accessibility of the World Wide Web for disabled and older people, access to technology enhanced learning for disabled students, and access to multimedia information through tactile and other means for visually impaired people.

Petrie was instrumental in the establishment of the National Centre for Tactile Diagrams at the UK’s University of Hertfordshire to promote the use of tactile diagrams in both education and everyday life for blind people. The National Centre is now part of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, and Ms. Petrie now works with the Centre for Tactile Images at the University of York.

Linda PringLinda Pring, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Linda Pring, Ph.D. Psychology Department, Goldsmiths, University of London, studied at the University of Newcastle and later at Birkbeck College, University of London. She joined the Medical Research Council Developmental Psychology Unit in 1980, and it was there that she began research with children and adults with disabilities. She has published more than 100 articles along with chapters and books on the topic of psychological and developmental aspects of blindness, savant syndrome and literacy. Dr. Pring now holds a Chair in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she teaches on the MSC in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, lectures on speech and language, and continues with research. She is working with Great Ormond Street Hospital, London on a study with infants and young children with visual impairment (VI); with Professor Adam Ockelford (Roehampton University) on research into musical ability in savant syndrome; and on her own in connection with object recognition in visual impairment. 

Jaime SanchezJaime Sanchez, University of Chile

Jaime Sanchez received an M.A. (1983), M.Sc. (1984), and Ph.D. (1985) degrees from Columbia University, New York. He has also been a postdoctoral research fellow at the MIT Media Lab and Cornell University (1987). He is Associate Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chile. He has developed several sound-based virtual environments for developing learning and cognition in blind children.

Currently, Dr. Sanchez is working on audio-based mobile devices to help blind learners to develop and rehearse problem-solving skills in real settings. His research interests include the impact of using audio on cognitive development in blind learners, usability evaluation methods, game-based learning, and mobile learning. He has published extensively on these topics and has also authored several books on learning with computers.

In 2006-2007 as Visiting Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Columbia University and the Center for Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation at Harvard University.

Krish SathianKrish Sathian, Emory University

Krish Sathian is Professor of Neurology, Rehabilitation Medicine and Psychology at Emory University, and Medical Director of the Atlanta VAMC R&D Center of Excellence in Rehabilitation of Aging Veterans with Vision Loss. His research interests are in normal and disordered tactile perception, multi-sensory perception with special reference to cross-modal interactions between vision and touch, and novel approaches to neurological rehabilitation. He has published extensively in these areas, and his research is funded by the NEI, NSF and VA. He is a member of a number of professional societies and was elected to the American Neurological Association in 2001. He was the recipient of Emory University’s Albert E. Levy Faculty Award for Excellence in Scientific Research in 2001.

Charles Spence Charles Spence, Oxford University

Charles Spence is the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory based at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University ( He is interested in how people perceive the world around them and, in particular, how our brains manage to process the information from each of our different senses (such as smell, taste, sight, hearing, and touch) to form the extraordinarily rich multi-sensory experiences that fill our daily lives. His research focuses on how a better understanding of the human mind will lead to the better design of multi-sensory foods, products, interfaces, and environments in the future. His research calls for a radical new way of examining and understanding the senses that has major implications for the way in which we design everything from household products to mobile phones, and from the food we eat to the places in which we work and live. Dr. Spence is currently a consultant for a number of multinational companies advising on various aspects of multi-sensory design, packaging, and branding. He has also conducted research on human-computer interaction issues on the Crew Work Station on the European Space Shuttle, and currently works on problems associated with the design of foods that maximally stimulate the senses, and with the effect of the indoor environment on mood, well-being, and performance.

Dr. Spence has published more than 250 articles in top-flight scientific journals over the last decade. He has been awarded the 10th Experimental Psychology Society Prize, the British Psychology Society: Cognitive Section Award, the Paul Bertelson Award, recognizing him as the young European Cognitive Psychologist of the Year, and, most recently, the prestigious Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany.

Mandayam A. SrinivasanMandayam A. Srinivasan, MIT Touch Lab

Mandayam A. Srinivasan is a Senior Research Scientist in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Srinivasan received his PhD from Yale University in 1984. He came to MIT in 1987 as a research fellow in the Newman Laboratory, and joined RLE in 1989 as Research Scientist in RLE’s Sensory Communication Group. Today, Srinivasan directs RLE’s Laboratory for Human and Machine Haptics, known worldwide as the Touch Lab.

V.S RamachandranV.S Ramachandran, University of California, San Diego

V.S Ramachandran is Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and a professor with the Psychology Department and the Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego. He has received many honors and awards, including a fellowship from All Souls College, Oxford. NEWSWEEK magazine named him a member of "The Century Club,“ one of the "hundred most prominent people to watch in the next century." He has published more than 120 papers in scientific journals, is Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopaedia of Human Behaviour, and author of the critically acclaimed book Phantoms in the Brain, which has been translated into eight languages and formed the basis for a TV series, as well as The Emerging Mind, and A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers. He has lectured widely on art, as well as visual perception and the brain, and is a trustee of the San Diego Museum of Art.

Dr. David Rose Dr. David Rose, Ed.D. Harvard School of Education.

In 1984. Rose helped to found CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) with a vision of expanding opportunities for all students, especially those with disabilities, through the innovative development and application of technology. Dr. Rose specializes in developmental neuropsychology and in the universal design of learning technologies.

In addition to his role at CAST as Founding Director/Chief Scientist of Cognition & Learning, Dr. Rose lectures at Harvard's Graduate School of Education where he has been on the faculty for twenty years. He has been the lead researcher on a number of U.S. Department of Education grants and now is the principal investigator for two national centers to develop and implement the National Instructional Materials Standard (NIMAS). He is the co-author of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning (ASCD, 2002) and is frequently a keynote speaker at regional and national educational conferences.

Additionally, he plays a key role in CAST's curriculum development work and has consulted to Houghton-Mifflin, Scholastic, Tom Snyder Productions, EBSCO Publishing, Pearson, Sopris West, and other publishers. He is an author of Scholastic's highly successful Literary Placeand Wiggleworks ®. Dr. Rose has testified before the U.S. Senate's Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and he advises state departments of education on policies related to the education of students with disabilities. Dr. Rose received his doctorate from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

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