Congratulations to Dr. Trevor Barrett on completing his Ph.D!

Dr. Trevor Barrett defends his dissertation and graduates. 

August 1, 2019

Congratulations to Trevor Barrett who recently completed his Ph.D. degree. Trevor was a valued member of the Hegarty Spatial Thinking lab for several years, first as an undergraduate research assistant, and later as a graduate student. He conducted research on spatial thinking in chemistry, including how students use physical and virtual models of molecules in problem solving and strategy differences in spatial problem solving. He was also an important contributor to an interdisciplinary project on visualization of uncertainty, which involved collaborating with researchers in Computer science and Geography across several universities. For his dissertation he investigated strategy differences in a mental rotation task (similar to the Shepard & Metzler task but with molecule-like stimuli) and interestingly found that most people adopted non-rotation strategies that capitalized on the internal structure of the stimuli, although people with higher spatial ability were more likely to use a mental rotation strategy. This work has important implications for chemistry instruction and understanding the link between spatial ability and STEM education. Trevor’s work is characterized by sophisticated data analysis and data visualization skills, most of which he developed independently. He has moved on to a postdoctoral position at the University of Southern California.