Anina Nicole Rich
Country of residence
Macquarie University, Department of Cognitive Science
Associate Professor Anina Rich is Co-Director of the Perception in Action Research Centre (PARC) and heads the Synaesthesia@Macquarie research group. Her research has three main themes, all related to the way the human brain selects, integrates, and responds to incoming information to allow us to perceive and interact with our complex environment. First, her work on attention examines the way the brain maintains the balance between voluntary deployments of attention towards a goal, and the involuntary shifts of attention caused by salient events in the environment. She uses brain imaging, brain stimulation, and behavioural methods to explore the way the brain achieves this control. Second, she studies the way in which the brain changes and adapts to injury or modified input. Her final major stream of research is synaesthesia, an unusual condition in which stimulation in one sensory modality generates an additional experience. For example, sounds (including speech) might evoke colours, scents might have textures, or, most commonly, words, letters and numbers have vivid and highly consistent experiences of colour. Synaethesia provides an unusual window into perception – a unique avenue for exploring the way information is integrated both within vision, and across the senses. She is Australia’s leading expert on synaesthesia, with publications on the topic in high profile journals including Nature and Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Anina completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and then was awarded a prestigious National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Menzies Foundation postdoctoral fellowship to work at Harvard Medical School (USA). She then returned to Australia to take up a research-intensive continuing position at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia). She has major research funding from both the NHMRC and the Australian Research Council. Anina’s work has received considerable media attention, and she has won research awards, including the 2010 ‘Young Tall Poppy’ award for Science & Science Communication from the Australian Institute of Policy & Science and the 2013 Paul Bourke Award for Early Career Research from the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. She is President–Elect and Founding member of the Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and is passionate about science communication, social justice and equality.