I’m a McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellow working with Professor Gregor Kennedy and Dr Jason Lodge at the University of Melbourne, in Australia. My research focus is on understanding basic learning mechanisms with an eye to improving educational and training practices in disciplines such as forensics, art, geology, and biology. At the core of these seemingly diverse fields of study is the process of learning to generalise from one instance to another: a new example of that finger, person, artistic style, biological species, statistical concept, or geological structure. Better understanding how people generalise from their prior experiences to new contexts has been the subject of much of my published work so far, and is a central theme in my broader programme of research on category learning and perceptual expertise.

I previously worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Associate Professor Jason Tangen, in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland. We are working together to investigate efficient ways of developing perceptual expertise in forensic science disciplines. I completed my PhD in psychology (cognitive science) at the University of Queensland on the nature and development of perceptual expertise in fingerprint identification. 

I’m interested in category learning, perceptual expertise, cognitive flexibility, and transfer.

You can read more about my research here, and find a list of my publications here.

Email: rachel.searston@gmail.com