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Analyzing the correlations between body movement and human perception

Vision, movement and social behavior are topics which, on the surface, might not appear to all be related. But Dr. Maggie Shiffrar's life as a researcher has been devoted to studying the interplay of the three.

The psychologist's primary research focus has been the visual analysis of bodily motion: how visual experience, motor experience and social processes all contribute to our perceptions of other people's actions.

This knowledge has practical implications, such as automobile systems that can help prevent, or minimize, accidents by detecting pedestrians in the path of cars. Shiffrar is also doing research, working with a Homeland Security grant, to learn how to identify people by their body movements who might pose security threats.

Thanks to generous funding from the Simons Foundation, Shiffrar is one of the first researchers to examine autism as it relates to the connections between visual analysis, body movements and the ability for people to interact. Shiffrar's work with individuals who have autism has determined that autism impacts the ability to detect and understand body movements.

In July 2012 Shiffrar became dean of the Rutgers Graduate School-Newark.

Shiffrar is an Elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association (2004) and the Association for Psychological Science (2005) and was the 2003 recipient of the Lansdowne Scholar Award from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. She received the 2009/2010 Hosford Scholarship Award for Research Excellence from Rutgers-Newark.

Shiffrar's research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), NATO, The Max Planck Institute, The Simons Foundation and Autism Speaks.

Shiffrar earned her B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her doctorate in psychology from Stanford University.