Aleksandra Kaszowska has joined the Department of Electronic Systems, Aalborg University as assistant professor in the Artificial Intelligence and Sound section.
She received her Master’s degree in experimental psychology from the Tufts University in Massachusetts, USA. Furthermore, Aleksandra Kaszowska holds a PhD degree in cognitive science, also from Tufts University.
Describe your area and research interests:
I am a cognitive and behavioral researcher. This means that I study how our brains and senses make it possible for us to do so many different things we need to do in order to function in our world – for example how is it possible that we do not bump into furniture when we walk around our apartments, even when we walk around in the dark? How do we know when to slow down or stop when we cross the street? Skills and behaviors that seem mundane to us, because we do them all the time, so we get so good at doing them we do them on autopilot. However, they are in fact very complicated; we just think they are easy because we are so used to doing them.
Furthermore, I study human behavior in different ways. Today’s technology allows us to observe so much detail about different behaviors, so instead of just asking people about things through standardized surveys, I can replicate conditions that are close to the real-world, everyday conditions in the research laboratory. For example, I use computer simulations for things like driving a car or flying a plane, or virtual reality googles if I want my research participants to have a more immersive and realistic, experience. I can also follow my research participants into the actual real world, for example by using glasses that have built in cameras, which record where people are looking as they play sports or go to a museum. This makes it possible not to simulate reality in the research lab, but study people in their normal, natural environment.
Which projects are you going to work on?
I joined the Department of Electronic Systems as an engineering psychologist, so my focus will be on studying various aspects of how people interact with technology, and by extension – how can technology be made friendlier for different people. I am interested in making things that help us address everyday challenges in an unnoticeable way.
I am part of a group working primarily with sound – majority of my projects will therefore be focused on hearing and making hearing better for everybody. I will be using my knowledge of human brains, senses, and behaviors to support the innovative engineering work. There are important questions related to hearing rehabilitation - for example, how we motivate people who need hearing aids to use them, or how can we make hearing aids easier to access and adjust to one’s needs and preferences.
There are also questions related to making hearing things easier for everybody under different conditions. For example, participating in online meetings while working from home. The sound quality is poor, which makes it harder to understand what your coworker is saying. Some people increase the volume, but listening to loud volume for a long time is not great. Placing humans (and their brains, senses, and behaviors) at the very center of the technological developments and solutions as an essential part of my research at AAU.
Why did you choose to continue your career at Aalborg University?
I really like learning new things through research, and I want to contribute to solving real-word problems. I also get to join and form interdisciplinary teams with other researchers and partners from public and private sectors.
Another equally important factor in choosing AAU as my new home is AAU’s teaching philosophy. Learning at AAU is about gathering fundamental knowledge, and then immediately applying that knowledge to formulating and solving pervasive problems outside of the classroom.
Any fun facts your new colleagues should know?
I was very excited to discover that in Denmark home cooking and baking is elevated to the rank of a national sport – so I have been spending winter evenings perfecting some skills and experimenting with new recipes that I can put to a good use once it is safe to gather again.