Psychology Department Welcomes New Assistant Professor

Barbara Juhasz, assistant professor of psychology, studies readers’ eye movement.
Posted 07/28/06
Barbara Juhasz has joined the Department of Psychology as an assistant professor.

Juhasz studies the psychology of reading. Her main task in investigating word recognition is to measure readers’ eye movements as they read sentences on a computer screen. The duration of readers’ eye fixations on words provides detailed information on how easy or difficult words are to understand, she explains.

While her research is usually conducted on literate adults, it has applications to the teaching of reading and the understanding of reading disorders.

“In my opinion, recognizing and understanding words is a very important part of the reading process,” Juhasz says. “I am particularly interested in how readers’ mental dictionaries are organized.”

Juhasz comes to Wesleyan from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she worked as the university’s Eye-Tracking Laboratory manager while completing her Ph.D. She received a bachelor’s of art in psychology from Binghamton University; a master’s of science in cognitive psychology from UMass, Amherst; and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from UMass, Amherst in May 2006.

She has been the recipient of several grants and fellowships including a pre-doctoral traineeship from the National Institute of Mental Health; a Study Visit Grant from the Experimental Psychology Society; a Psychology Departmental Travel Grant from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and a Dean of Harpur College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Support Grant.

At Binghamton, Juhasz was an undergraduate research assistant for Professor Albrecht Inhoff in the university’s Eye-Tracking Laboratory. She also worked as a teaching assistant for a course titled Research Methods and an instructor for two psychology courses and accompanying labs.

At UMass, Amherst, she worked as a graduate research assistant for Professor Keith Rayner at the Eye-Tracking Laboratory. In addition, she supervised four undergraduates in the lab, and oversaw two senior honor’s thesis students. She also worked as a teaching assistant for the course, Undergraduate Psychological Statistics.

“It was these early research experiences that inspired me to become an assistant professor and study reading,” she says. “I am very excited to involve undergraduates in my research.”

At Wesleyan, Juhasz plans to establish an internationally-known eye movement and reading lab.

“Wesleyan has a great reputation for both teaching and research. It is rare to find a university that excels in both of these areas,” she says.

Juhasz is the author or co-author of more than a dozen articles including “Immediate disambiguation of lexically ambiguous words during reading: Evidence from eye movements,” and “Orthographic uniqueness point and eye movements in reading,” published in the British Journal of Psychology; “Age-of-acquisition effects in word and picture processing,” published in Psychological Bulletin; and “Binocular coordination of the eyes during reading: Word frequency and case alternation affect fixation duration but not binocular disparity,” published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

In addition, she holds professional memberships with the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society.

Juhasz will teach Sensation and Perception in the fall, and in the spring, Statistics: An Activity-Based Approach and Psychology of Reading.

Juhasz says her family is especially proud that she has become an assistant professor at Wesleyan. Her grandfather, Wesley Sanders, attended Wesleyan, and her uncle, Peter Sanders, graduated from Wesleyan in ‘56.

She lives in East Hampton, Conn. with her husband, Matthew Vitiello, and their dog, Sid.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor