In Memoriam Raja Parasuraman (1950-2015)
Raja Parasuraman was a University Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. He was Director of the Graduate Program in Human Factors and Applied Cognition and Director of the Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition (CENTEC). Previously he was a professor at The Catholic University of America, Washington DC from 1982 to 2004. He received a B.Sc. (1st Class Honors) in Electrical Engineering from Imperial College, University of London, U.K. (1972) and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Aston University, Birmingham, U.K. (1976).
Raja Parasuraman had research programs in human factors and cognitive neuroscience. The first area concerned human performance in human-machine systems, particularly the role of human attention, memory, and vigilance in automated and robotic systems. His second area of research was the cognitive neuroscience of attention, where he conducted studies using information- processing, neuroimaging and brain stimulation methods, both in healthy young adults and in relation to aging and Alzheimer’s disease. He also had a research thrust in the molecular genetics of cognition. Dr. Parasuraman merged his interests in human factors (ergonomics) and cognitive neuroscience by developing the field of neuroergonomics, which he defined as the study of brain and behavior at work. His research had been supported by funding from federal agencies such as AFOSR, ARL, DARPA, NASA, NIH, NSF, and ONR, as well as by private foundations. In 2010, he received a 5-year grant to establish the Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition (CENTEC) at George Mason University.
Raja Parasuraman had over 180 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the high-impact journals Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), and Psychological Science. He was the recipient in 1997 and again in 2001 of the Jerome H. Ely Award for best paper in the journal Human Factors. In 2010, he received the inaugural Raymond S. Nickerson Award for Best Paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. His 13 books included The Psychology of Vigilance (1982), Varieties of Attention (1984), Event-Related Brain Potentials (1990), Automation and Human Performance (1996), The Attentive Brain (1998; reprinted in 2000), Neuroergonomics: The Brain at Work (2007; reprinted in 2008), Nurturing the Older Brain and Mind (2012), and Engineering Psychology and Human Performance (2013).
Raja Parasuraman served as a member of the National Research Council’s Panel on Human Factors in Air-Traffic Control Automation from 1994 to 1998. He was a member of the National Research Council’s Panel on Human Factors (Board on Human-Systems Integration) from 2000 to 2007 and served as Chair from 2001 to 2005. He was on the editorial board of several journals. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1994), the American Psychological Association (1991), the American Psychological Society (1991), the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (1994), the International Ergonomics Association (2006), and a National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (2001). In 2006 he received the Paul M. Fitts Education Award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He received the Outstanding Faculty Award in 2009 from the State Council for Higher Education for the State of Virginia. In 2012, he received the Triennial Outstanding Educators Award from the International Ergonomics Association and the Celebration of Scholarship Award from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University.
Raja Parasuraman liked to cook, play guitar, go to the theater, and enjoyed blues and world music, hiking, and traveling to distant lands.