From 1995-1997 I attended CCCC as a liberal arts student. At the time I was uncertain of my path, but had a strong interest in science, as well as the arts and humanities. Growing up in Barnstable, 4Cs was an affordable local choice that offered a strong educational curriculum and faculty. During my time here, I met many memorable teachers and friends. However, I would single out George Hoar, RIP, who was a fantastic ancient history lecturer; Dan McCullough, another great lecturer whose courses in introductory philosophy and ethics where always thought provoking; and lastly Mary Moynihan, for calculus and differential equations, a very caring lecturer with a great sense of humor (although the exams were often brutal!).
I've been quite fortunate to have the opportunity to travel extensively, as well as work with many amazing students and scientists from all over the world. While at 4C's I read Steven Pinker's book How the Mind Works and became interested in psychology and the neural and chemical basis of cognition and behavior.
After receiving my AA, I transferred to the honors program at UMass Amherst as part of the commonwealth scholar program. There, I studied psychology and neuroscience.
After graduating, I obtained a research technician position in the lab of Mary Hayhoe and Dana Ballard, at the University of Rochester. The lab is an interdisciplinary psychology and computer science lab, focused on studying human and computer vision using a variety of cutting edge technologies, including virtual reality, eye tracking and motion tracking. My supervisors became my friends and mentors, encouraging me to study vision science, psychology, computer science and mathematics. After several years as a research assistant (and taking advantage of free courses for UR staff), I enrolled as a PhD student in psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.
My work focused on eye movements and how we juggle multiple ongoing tasks that require our visual attention. After the PhD, I became a Rachel C. Atkins postdoctoral fellow in San Francisco. There, I researched impairment of eye-hand coordination in macular degeneration patients at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, with Laura Walker. I then moved to Stockholm, Sweden to work as a Marie Curie fellow at the eye tracking technology company Tobii AB. As part of the Marie Curie network, I researched application of real time processing of eye tracking data in psychology experiments with several groups, including collaborations with researchers in Norway, Spain and Germany.
Just a few months ago, I moved to Bristol, UK, to work in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol as a senior research associate with Iain Gilchrist and Casimir Ludwig. Our group is working on a collaborative project along with the Department of Computer Science to develop an augmented reality and computer vision platform that will use wearable displays and sensor technology to create an interactive digital assistant (imagine an interactive how-to-guide that provides advice in real-time if it detects you need help). For more details you can visit: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/expsych/people/brian-t-sullivan/
I’ve had the great privilege to live and work in amazing cities like Austin, San Francisco, Stockholm, and now Bristol. I’ve met and worked with talented and interesting researchers from all over the world including experts in engineering, ophthalmology, neuroscience, psychology, and computer science.
During the time I attended 4Cs, I had no idea what the future would hold, but looking back I think it is a great education at a bargain price, if you are disciplined at work hard many future opportunities can open up. Undergraduate education in the US is increasingly expensive and out of reach for working class families, community colleges play a valuable role in keeping quality higher education open to all. Of course, graduating high school and staying at home with your parents (as I did) isn’t as fun and eye opening as university dorms (Sorry Mom & Dad!), your future self (and bank account) will thank you for it!
Image: Brian Sullivan guest lecturing at department of Optometry at the University of Riga, Latvia.