‘Rising star’ of research awarded national Vanier Scholarship

Brock Psychology student Claire Matthews

Brock Psychology student Claire Matthews has received a prestigious national scholarship. Brock University photo

Brock University press release – A Brock University PhD student doing cutting-edge research on how children learn to recognize faces has received a prestigious national scholarship.

Psychology student Claire Matthews has been granted a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship that will see her use breakthrough methods to shed light on children’s perceptions of new faces and the processing of this information in their minds.

“One of the studies in my PhD will examine whether motion facilitates children’s face learning,” says Matthews. “If motion helps children learn, we may actually be underestimating children’s abilities by asking them to recognize a new face by just looking at static images.”

This is part of Matthews’ PhD program, which focusses on facial recognition across the lifespan to understand differences in the process of learning.

“Our lab is really the only one in Canada examining these types of questions from a developmental perspective,” she says.

This builds upon Matthews’ years-long facial recognition research, which has led to a partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and can help police officers and border officials do their jobs more effectively.

“Border Service agents need to analyze a photo of a person they have never seen before and quickly decide if that person is who they say they are,” she says. “I am working with the CBSA to use my research findings to help improve their training protocols.”

Professor of Psychology Catherine Mondloch, Matthews’ PhD supervisor in Brock’s Centre for Lifespan Development, says the work Matthews is doing is cutting-edge and will impact Canadians

“Claire is addressing unexplored questions in facial recognition with studies that demonstrate her ingenuity and commitment to research,” she says. “She is a rising star.”

The $50,000 Vanier scholarship is designed to attract and retain world-class doctoral students by supporting students who demonstrate both leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health-related fields.

“We are so proud of Claire’s many achievements. In particular, the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recognizes her as an outstanding researcher, contributing to not only the reputation of Brock University, but to Canada’s reputation for excellence in research,” says Diane Dupont, Interim Dean of Graduate Studies.



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