I first met Art in the beginning of my sophomore year at Brandeis. On the recommendation of a friend, I went to see Eve (unannounced, I believe, and embarrassingly naive) to ask her about "neuroscience". Instead of turning me away, she invited me in and met with me for about an hour, after which she said she thought I might be interested in cognitive neuroscience, scribbled something on a piece of paper, and sent me across the hall to Art's office. Art glanced at the piece of paper and offered me a position in the lab. I spent the next 3 years working in his lab, and by my senior year it was like a second home. (I'm pretty sure I slept there on at least one occasion while working on my honors thesis.) The grad students were like my older brothers, and it was the first time I realized that academia was like a giant, fun family. I was hooked.
I have such fond memories of the lab and of Art. He was always available and full of advice (just as long as you didn't email him), and I learned so much from him. He was an excellent advisor, giving me the perfect mix of direction and freedom. When it came time to apply to grad school, I mentioned that I might like to stay at Brandeis for an extra year and do a Masters. Art gave me two pieces of sage advice: (1) Unless I was "independently wealthy", why would I pay for a Masters program when I could get paid to do a PhD? (I had no idea PhD students got stipends!), and (2) It was "time for baby bird to leave the nest".
I will always be grateful for the opportunity and experience of being in Art's lab. Even though I crossed over to the "dark side" and do vision research now, I had such amazing preparation in Art's lab. When undergrads contact me to join my lab now, with professional-sounding emails mentioning how how they've read my papers and have all these future plans laid out, I remember how clueless I was and how grateful I am that Art (and Eve) gave me a chance.
P.S. A few of the more salient lessons I learned about Art during my time in the lab:
- He's married to Eve. I had NO idea for about a year and a half, until one day I was meeting with Art in his office, and Eve popped in and gave him an affectionate squeeze on the shoulder on the way out.
- He is occasionally forgetful (like the time he forgot I wasn't a grad student and got annoyed that I was going away for spring break and hadn't even asked him first).
- He has great stories (and will probably tell the good ones to you on multiple occasions).
- A full coffee pot is essential lab equipment.
Art, thanks for everything, and I'm sorry I couldn't make it!
Wingfield Lab undergrad 2001-2004
Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Ohio State University