UCSD Cog Sci raids Portland, represents at CSS, and refreshes at food trucks

by Gedeon Deák

16 November 2010

(with additional reporting from Joshua Lewis)

August, 2010: Like a horde of Matlab-maddened Mongols, Cog Sci’ers (grads, faculty, and research staff) moved out from La Jolla to descend on Portland, OR, for the 32nd meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Donning dun duds and puce plaids to infiltrate the alt-sleepy town, department denizens dazzled with a deft display of cognitive science.

UCSD-at-CSS2010 was remarkable for several events: department founding member Jay McClelland received the Rumelhart Prize (came with a bona fide medal!), presented by our friend Bob Glushko. A panel discussion of G-prize-winners included not only Jay but our own colleague/dean Jeff Elman. Most important, our own graduate students and junior faculty made a most impressive showing, with outstanding talks by Jamie Alexandre, (former grad) Arielle Borovsky, Wen Hsuan Chan, Joshua Lewis, Ross Metusalem, and (former grad AND now junior faculty!) Ayse Saygin.

Some attendees were (a bit too) excited to find some quality food trucks (like the Volkswaffle: waffles in a VW camper, and Potato Champion: belgian style fries open until 3AM) parked a short walk from the Portland convention center. (See pictures) That became the food court for some, but for variety we hit up the Rogue Brewery’s pub: beers got thumbs up; food got mixed reviews. We enjoyed live music, lively nightlife, and a free, fast public transportation system (what a concept!).

Special awards for this year’s journey go to:

David Kirsh, with the “20 minute time slots cannot contain me” award for having the only regular talk at the conference slotted for a whole 80 minute session.

Tyler Marghetis, with the “But we’re scientists! ... Here for a conference!” award for uttering the preceding whenever our group was confronted by an authority figure.

For 2011, the CSS organizing committee should consider setting aside a few paper session slots for exemplary UCSD research. However, the location—Boston, MA—means that Josh, Jamie, Jake and Tyler will have to set aside a *little* more time for their road trip.

The UCSD Cast in alphabetical order (find them in the proceedings):

Presenters/authors included Jamie Alexandre, Ben Bergen, Arielle Borovsky, David Brang, Wen Hsuan Chan, Seana Coulson, Sarah Creel, Gedeon Deák, Virginia de Sa, Jeff Elman, Adam Fouse, David Kirsh, Marta Kutas, Joshua Lewis, Marybel Robledo, Ayse Saygin, Nathaniel Smith, and Tom Urbach, A few hardy compadres, Tyler Marghetis and Jake Olson among them, joined us for moral support.

Other FOCS (Friends of Cognitive Science at UCSD) and alumni who presented or were authors at CSS included: Adele Abrahamsen, David Barner, Bill Bechtel, Klinton Bicknell, Kara Federmeier, Joanne Jao, Hector Jasso, Roger Levy, Jay McClelland, David Noelle, Hal Pashler, V.S. Ramachandran, Hannah Rohde, Ursina Teuscher, Matt Tong, and Jochen Triesch.