Robert G. Alexander is an award-winning cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years of experience in vision research. Alexander received a Ph.D. in cognitive science from Stony Brook University in 2013. In 2014, he became a full-time research faculty member at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. In 2022, he co-founded Expertize, Inc., a C Corporation startup created to develop educational tools and oculomotor biomarkers of expertise. He has worked with several companies to develop technologies and products based on discoveries from his research. Some of the resulting intellectual property has been successfully sold and commercialized. He has also authored dozens of peer-reviewed publications, including papers in Nature Human Behaviour, Radiology, The Journal of Neuroscience, Scientific Reports, and Behavioral Research Methods.

At New York Tech, Alexander leads a research team that asks what we can learn about people from the way they move their eyes. Most of this research examines perceptual expertise in healthcare and other professional contexts. We can tell how much of an expert someone is, just from the way they look at images. For example, expert radiologists look at potentially cancerous nodules much more quickly than medical students do. When piloting an aircraft, too, experts quickly look at the right places, at the right times. The research team collects eye movement measurements and then uses this data to create educational training and assessment tools that help students learn how to look at images the way that experts do.

Alexander prioritizes student involvement in all aspects of the research, providing students with high-impact educational experiences. Students on the research team participate in designing experiments, setting up data acquisition systems, creating stimuli, collecting and analyzing data, preparing and authoring manuscripts, and presenting their discoveries at conferences. Many of Alexander's undergraduate student trainees have continued to pursue graduate or medical degrees.

He has also engaged in scholarship of learning projects focused on inequalities in education and has examined best practices in science communication. Alexander has explored how best to present factual scientific information, and how scientists can fight against misinformation and disinformation.

Recent Projects and Research

  • Perceptual expertise in radiology and oculomotor heuristics to improve radiologic performance (NIH award R01-CA258021): This work aims to objectively determine the visual textures used by expert radiologists to identify abnormalities in medical images; determine the ways in which expert radiologists use their eyes, and especially their peripheral vision, to scan images and target informative regions; develop a perceptual learning paradigm to optimally train residents in both texture perception and oculomotor performance domains; and construct a deep learning model of human radiological expertise.
  • Psychophysical testing of visual perception as a function of oculomotor behavior (protocol # ESB-1874): This work is focused on understanding how visual information is sampled and encoded by human subjects as a function of eye movements. The results of this research may be useful to better understand ophthalmic and neural pathologies and help develop improved diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions.
  • Perceptual expertise in professional personnel (protocol # ESB-1896): This research examines how visual information is sampled and encoded by human subjects as a function of eye movements in complex systems (e.g., in professional work settings). The results of this research may be useful for the design of training programs and assessments for measuring the expertise of professional personnel.

Selected Publications

  • Alexander, R. G., Venkatakrishnan, A., Chanovas, J., Ferguson, S., Macknik, S.L., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2024). "Why did Rubens add a parrot to Titian's "Fall of Man"? A pictorial manipulation of joint attention." Journal of Vision.
  • Dunn, M.J., Alexander, R.G., Amiebenomo, O.M. et al. Minimal reporting guideline for research involving eye tracking (2023 edition). Behav Res (2023).
  • Alexander, R. G., Waite, S., Bruno, M., Krupinski, E. A., Berlin, L., Macknik, S. L., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2022). "Mandating limits on workload, duty, and speed in radiology." Radiology, 304(2), 274–282.
  • Phelps, A.M., Alexander, R. G., & Schmidt, J. (2022). "Negative cues minimize visual search specificity effects." Vision Research, 196.
  • Alexander, R. G., Macknik, S. L., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2022). "What the neuroscience and psychology of magic reveal about misinformation." Publications, 10(4), 33.
  • Alexander, R. G., Mintz, R. J., Custodio, P. J., Macknik, S. L., Vaziri, AF., Venkatakrishnan, A., Gindina, S., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2021). "Gaze mechanisms enabling the detection of faint stars in the night sky." European Journal of Neuroscience, 00, 1–11.
  • Alexander, R. G., Venkatakrishnan, A., Chanovas, J., Macknik, S.L., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2021). "Microsaccade dynamics mediate perceptual alternations in Monet's 'Impression, Sunrise.'" Scientific Reports, 11, 3612.
  • Alexander, R. G., Yazdanie, F., Waite, S., Kolla, S., Chaudhry, Z.A., Macknik, S. L., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2021). "Visual illusions in radiology: untrue perceptions in medical images and their implications for diagnostic accuracy." Frontiers in Neuroscience, 15(554).
  • Alexander, K. E., & Alexander, R. G. (2021). "Evidence of weight bias in the college classroom: a call for inclusive teaching practices for students of all sizes." College Teaching, 70(4), 461–468.
  • Alexander, R. G., Waite, S., Macknik, S. L., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2020). "What do radiologists look for? The future and limitations of perceptual learning in radiologic search." Journal of Vision. 20(10), 1–13.
  • Alexander, R. G., Macknik, S. L., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2020). "Microsaccades in applied environments: Real-world applications of fixational eye movement measurements." Journal of Eye Movement Research, 12(6).
  • Waite, S., Farooq, Z., Grigorian, A., Sistrom, C., Kolla, S., Mancuso, A., Martinez-Conde, S., Alexander, R. G., Kantor, A., & Macknik, S. L. (2020). "A Review of Perceptual Expertise in Radiology—How it develops, how we can test it, and why humans still matter in the era of Artificial Intelligence." Academic Radiology, 27(1), 26–38.
  • Martinez-Conde, S. & Alexander, R. G. (2019). "A gaze bias in the mind's eye." Nature Human Behaviour, 3(5), 424–425.
  • Macknik, S.L., Alexander, R. G., Caballero, O., Chanovas, J., Nielsen, K.J., Nishimura, N., Schaffer, C.B., Slovin, H., Babayoff, A., Barak, R., Tang, S., Ju, N., Yazdan-Shahmorad, A., Alonso, J-M., Malinskiy, E., Martinez-Conde, S. (2019). "Advanced circuit and cellular imaging methods in non-human primates." Journal of Neuroscience, 39(42), 8267–8274.
  • Waite, S., Grigorian, A., Alexander, R. G., Macknik, S. L., Carrasco, M., Heeger, D. J., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2019). "Analysis of perceptual expertise in radiology – current knowledge and a new perspective." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13, 213–234.
  • Martinez-Conde, S., Alexander, R.G., Blum, D., Britton, N., Lipska, B.K., Quirk, G.J., Swiss, J.I., Willems, R.M., & Macknik, S.L. (2019). "The storytelling brain: how neuroscience stories help bridge the gap between research and society." Journal of Neuroscience, 39(42), 8285–8290.
  • Alexander, R. G., Nahvi, R., J., & Zelinsky, G. J. (2019). "Specifying the precision of guiding features for visual search." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 45(9), 1248–1264.
  • Alexander, R. G., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2019). "Fixational eye movements." (pp. 73-115). In M. Reuter & C. Montag (Series Eds.) & C. Klein & U. Ettinger (Vol. Eds.), Eye Movement Research. Studies in Neuroscience, Psychology and Behavioral Economics. Springer, Cham.

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Professional Honors and Awards

  • Supervisor of the Year from New York Tech Student Employment, 2024.
  • Faculty Mentor for a 2023–2024 Psi Chi Fall Undergraduate Research Grant, "Search cues in radiology." Student Principal Investigator: Ola Abozid.
  • Awarded Best Scientific Paper of the Year by (the radiology field's premier medical imaging news and information site), out of over 50,000 articles published the preceding year, 2022.
  • Co-Investigator for National Institutes of Health research grant R01-CA258021, 2021–2023.
  • Sensory Neuroscience Editor's Pick 2021 ( – Top Ten Cited and Downloaded, 2021.
  • Received assessment of "exceptionally good review" from Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 2016.
  • Stony Brook Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URECA) Research Program award (Role: Mentor), 2011.
  • The Rosemarie Ungarelli Memorial Award in Psychology for "outstanding" departmental service, 2006.
  • The Richard P. Runyon Award in Psychology for "superior" departmental service, 2006.

Courses Taught at New York Tech

  • PSYC 101: Introduction to Psychology
  • PSYC 251: Measurement Concepts
  • PSYC 270: Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 310: Abnormal Psychology
  • PSYC 335: Personnel Psychology
  • PSYC 410: Physiological Basis of Behavior

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