About Joel Pearson

From my early daysjoel_moy1 at school I was always torn between art and science. In high school I was the guy who stayed back late into the night, covered in paint, addicted to creating new artworks. But, I was also the guy that stayed back after biology, chemistry and physics class asking question after question about how the world around us works.

Later at university, I studied fine arts and expanded from painting and drawing to filmmaking. I fell head-over-heals in love with creating film that could truly move people. I loved filmmaking and was excited about its bright future. But at the same time I could not stop searching for answers to how the world works. I wanted more and more to make scientific discoveries. Before long the burning mysteries of how the brain works, how it creates our conscious experience pulled me into the world of science.

Whether it’s a breakthrough discovery about how the brain works or a new way to move people with a painting or by telling a story in film – the moment of breakthrough discovery, the spark of creative insight feels the same to me across these traditionally different disciplines.

I am currently a university professor, I run a research lab and teach. After jumping into the world of science my career took off with a bang. I published 2 papers as a 3rd year undergrad, followed by 4 more during my 4th year honours. In 2007 I completed my PhD in a record breaking 2 years all while squeezing in several around the world trips and international conference talks and colloquiums, alongside 4 publications.

Then after receiving a competitive CJ Martin research fellowship I worked in two different psychology and neuroscience labs simultaneously at Vanderbilt University Nashville TN. In 2009 I was honoured with the international William James prize awarded to one individual each year for the greatest contribution to our scientific understanding of consciousness.

In 2009 I took up a faculty position at the University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia and am currently an Australian health and medical research fellow. I have grown the research lab from 1 to 15 individuals, published in many high impact international journals and multiple textbook chapters. I have received over 1.8mil in competitive funding, given keynote lectures, taken part in crucial government think tanks, helped government granting agents make their funding decisions, taught at all university levels, created new courses and coordinated some of the worlds largest face-to-face classes (>1100 students).

My lab now researches many different exciting and cutting-edge topics from new methods to map the human brain, to decision-making and how the imagination works. I take a multidisciplinary approach to running my lab, bringing in staff and students from art, architecture, mathematics, computer science, psychology, neuroscience and medical imaging. I have a keen passion for sharing the lab’s work with the world (please see Pearsonlab.org for more academic info).

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