Canadian charme in Montréal

The summer of 2019 came with a very special highlight for me: Visiting Canada for the first time to attend not one but two co-located conferences and additionally introduce myself at the Shared Reality Lab at McGill University! After a quite calm flight I could enjoy the impressive city of Montréal, a city full of opposites with high skyscrapers and historic buildings side by side. The 52nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Mathematical Psychology and the 17th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling had again joint forces and took place together. My talk that introduced cognitive modeling work from my PhD was scheduled right at the first conference day after an insightful ACT-R workshop on the day before. I was really excited that “the big names” from the community such as John Anderson and Niels Taatgen attended my talk as well!

After a very successful talk at the McGill University and an amazing trip to Mount Royal (including sunset and fireflies!), the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society started and came with broad opportunities to extend my professional network. Introducing the poster of our former intern Lin Xu resulted in great feedback on future steps in this research direction. My talk afterward strengthened my networks even more, as I had the incredible opportunity to meet Andrea Stocco and Wayne Gray and discuss my research. I further had the opportunity to engage in mentoring activities and provide advice to the next academic generation, thus the trip turned out to be really worthwhile. The amazing fireworks and the beauty of Notre Dame and the Old Port only supported this impression!

Returning to Groningen

To add the final piece to my PhD thesis before submission, I had the amazing opportunity to return to the Cognitive Modeling Group at the University of Groningen and complete my ACT-R model under the kind supervision of Jelmer Borst. I made incredible progress during that time and also had the chance to enjoy the beauty of the city. My favorite activity: A relaxing bike ride to the Hornsemeer. An additional highlight for me as cat lover was to visit the cats café. I’m really attached to the city by now and always look forward to coming back!

Visiting “The Big Smoke”

Proceeding further in the year 2017, I had the amazing opportunity to visit London on the occasion of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Aligned to the conference topic “Computational Foundations of Cognition”, I brought along some work-in-progress results on the ACT-R model that I develop within my PhD thesis. Since I also attended the ACT-R workshop the day prior to the main conference, the stay turned out to be a real benefit for my ongoing work. My personal highlight: I had the incredible honor to meet John Anderson in person just before the ACT-R workshop started! When I presented my poster, several established researchers from the community stepped by to provide me very helpful ideas and hints. Besides attending the conference, there was indeed some time left to explore the city, for instance by visiting the Royal Greenwich Observatory or enjoying a cold ale in front of the Thompson Reuters building in Canary Wharf.

Organizing a symposium

When contributing to a conference, one possibility besides submitting an individual talk or poster is to organize an entire session, mostly called “symposium” or “work group” or something similar. On the occasion of the 58th Conference of Experimental Psychologists in Heidelberg, I decided to organize my first symposium that covered the topic of “Extending experimental cognitive research with ACT-R”. In addition to my own talk, I had invited former colleagues from Berlin and a colleague from Heidelberg. I also received very kind and encouraging support by Professor Verena Nitsch, who had provided a fascinating guest lecture at CrossWorlds just a few month before.

Meeting my fate and future

The year continued, and while my master thesis took shape, due to existing contacts I got notice of the conference on “Theory, Development & Evaluation of Social Technology” organized by the Research Training Group CrossWorlds in Chemnitz. My submitted contribution on interruption and resumption in a smartphone task, resulting from my master thesis, fortunately got accepted and thus I had the opportunity to present my work there. In addition to the scientific program that featured several high-class keynotes and invited talks, the CrossWorlds members had organized an incredible dinner at the restaurant Janssen. This particular conference already provided me the chance to establish stable connections to the local colleagues in Chemnitz, which helped a lot during the following years.

Cognitive modeling in Groningen

Like the year before, 2014 kept me busy with studying and teaching, particularly due to my master thesis. Since this involved dealing with ACT-R to a large extent, I seized the chance to travel to the Netherlands together with my colleague Sabine Prezenski, and attended the 4th ACT-R Spring School at the University of Groningen. Under the kind supervision of Menno Nijboer and Professor Niels Taatgen, I could improve and extend my model within the master class.