2019 James McKeen Cattell Fellow

Roberta L. Klatzky
Carnegie Mellon University

A world-renowned expert in cognitive and perceptual processes, Roberta L. Klatzky has investigated such fundamental human capabilities as spatial representation and sensory-guided action. Klatzky’s work in basic science has described how active haptic exploration is linked to what people perceive by touching objects and materials, and how people update their positions in space through vision, hearing, touch, and even imagination.  A hallmark of Klatzky’s approach is to demonstrate that the findings and principles of basic psychological science can be used fruitfully in applications.  The diverse applied contexts informed by her research include navigation guidance, robot control, and surgical augmentation. 

Klatzky played a major part in the development of a navigation aid for the blind that uses spatialized (virtual-source) sound cues. She and collaborators implemented a novel method for controlling a robot in the dangerous task of detecting land mines. Her research has contributed to medical devices that use augmented reality to project images into the operative field and enhance delicate force information that would otherwise not be available to guide surgery.

In addition to her illustrious scientific career, Klatzky has served as a strong advocate for psychological science within the field and in the larger scientific community.  She is a Past Treasurer of the Association for Psychological Science. Klatzky is known for her generosity with time and wisdom to mentor young scientists and engineers.  She has been a tireless advocate for equality and for the success of women in academia.