Academic will carry Paralympic torch before joining Department of Psychology

An academic who will be joining the University later this year has been chosen to help carry the flame in the 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay.

Dr Michael Proulx, who will start his role as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology in September, was chosen as a torchbearer for his research into blindness and his ongoing engagement with the blind community.

Dr Proulx is currently a lecturer in Cognitive Psychology at Queen Mary, University of London's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

He will join some 580 nominees between 28-29 August in carrying the flame from Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games, to London for the Paralympic opening ceremony.

Dr Proulx said: "It is an incredible honour, but also very humbling, to be nominated and chosen to be a torch bearer for the Paralympic Games. I am part of an excellent network of researchers working on the cognitive psychology of blindness and devices built to help blind people 'see' by turning images into sound.

"I am also thrilled to be joining the University of Bath. The Department of Psychology at Bath has a top-notch group of scientists with an excellent reputation for research that is both theoretically driven and has a positive impact on society."

Dr Proulx’s current research focuses on the use of The vOICe, a 'sensory-substitution' device used to convert visual information to sound. He has worked with blind individuals to better understand the role of visual experience for awareness and perception.

His work shows how the 'visual' parts of the brain process information, even when nothing ‘visual’ can be seen.  

The nomination noted that as a postdoctoral research fellow, Dr Proulx first engaged with blind persons through his research and his involvement with the blind community has expanded further throughout his career. He has devoted himself to promoting the careers of blind researchers, through advisement and collaboration, and in doing so is credited with bringing to attention the work of visually impaired scientists, when such achievements are often overlooked.

In addition to his part in the relay, Dr Proulx and his family will be in the audience for the Olympics Women’s Football and Paralympic Five-a-Side Football and Goalball – both of which involve visually impaired athletes.

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