When you examine the field of visual cognition it is impossible to not notice the impact of James T. (Jim) Enns. Jim started his training in Canada, receiving his undergraduate degree at the University of Winnipeg. He received his PhD from Princeton University in 1984. Since 1987 Jim has been a faculty member at the University of British Columbia, and has held the title of Distinguished University Scholar since 2003. Thus, for 25 years UBC and Canada have benefited from Jim's knowledge, skills, and desire to serve the discipline of Psychology.
If you had to state Jim's research topic in a single phrase you might say he investigates the role of attention in human vision, but this does not really do justice to the diversity of his research program. In his research Jim deftly brings together elements from perception, attention, consciousness, development, computational vision, art, emotion, neuropsychology, and social psychology, often answering questions that are interesting to scientists and lay-people alike. He was ahead of the curve in expanding the boundaries of perception/cognition research. Indeed, Jim is a master of good experimental design, and is skilled both at thinking "in the box" and "out of the box" when it comes to research ideas and design. Jim's ability to bring together seemingly disparate fields and approaches is evidenced in some titles from his talks and papers. For example, a recent talk of his was titled "Rembrandt and modern vision science: Following the eyes of the masters" and his publications include titles such as "The development of change detection," "The bicycle illusion: Sidewalk science informs the integration of motion and shape perception," and "Person perception informs understanding of cognition during visual search".
Jim's research in visual cognition has been funded by NSERC throughout his career, and has resulted in over 160 articles and book chapters. Jim has made important contributions to our understanding of visual masking and unconscious priming. Indeed, he and his collaborator Vince Di Lollo were the first to report object substitution masking, and to dissociate it from metacontrast and pattern masking. In addition, Jim has made large contributions in the areas of visual search, the attentional blink, perceptual development, and exploring links between perceptual processing, attention and conscious awareness. Jim has also co-authored several editions of his Sensation and Perception textbook, solo authored his book The thinking eye, the seeing brain, and edited three volumes on attention.
Jim has also contributed immensely by training the next generation of cognitive psychologists, both in Canada and internationally. In 2004 Jim was the recipient of the UBC's Robert Knox Master Teaching Award. Jim is also clearly a go-to person for training in visual cognition, and has helped to launch many successful scientists. A partial list of Jim's former PhD students or post-doctoral fellows who are now faculty members includes: Erin Austen (St. Francis Xavier), Darlene Brodeur (Acadia), Craig Chapman (Alberta), Mike Dodd (Nebraska), Steve Franconeri (Northwestern), Chris Healey (North Carolina State U.), Lisa Jefferies (Murdoch U., Australia), Jun Kawahara (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan), Alejandro Lleras (Illinois), Chris Oriet (Regina), Ronald Rensink (UBC), David Shore (McMaster), Dan Smilek (Waterloo), Lana Trick (Guelph), Troy Visser (Western Australia), and Adrian von Muhlenen (Warwick, UK).
Jim is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the flagship Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. Jim has truly shown excellent leadership in re-energizing JEPHPP, and his vision and generous guidance are helping to maintain and strengthen the reputation of an important journal in our field. This editorship has not been Jim's only leadership role in the field. Jim has previously held Associate Editor positions at Consciousness and Cognition (2007-2010), Perception and Psychophysics (2005-2007), Visual Cognition (1992-2004) and Psychological Science (2000-2003), and is a long standing Editorial Board member at Visual Cognition and the Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology. Jim has also been a member of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS) Organizing committee since 2000, a member of the Attention and Performance Organizing Committee and Advisory Council since 2000, and organized the 2002 CSBBCS conference in Vancouver.
In short, Jim contributes to the field of brain, behaviour, and cognition in ways large and small. His has been recognized for his accomplishments with the title of Distinguished University Scholar at UBC. Jim has also been named a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and in 2002 became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Despite his numerous accomplishments Jim is a remarkably grounded and humble person who makes ample time for family, travel, and athletic pursuits such as rock climbing and trail running. In all respects, Dr. Jim Enns is a very worthy recipient of the Donald O. Hebb Distinguished Contribution Award.