Dr Matthew Thompson

Cognitive Science
The University of Queensland

People with genuine expertise can perform quickly and accurately, and with little information. Police fingerprint examiners place two fingerprints on a screen and simply look at them to decide whether they match or not. Medical doctors can accurately detect cancer in a breast scan within 250 milliseconds—literally, in the blink of an eye. Dr Thompson researches the judgements of forensic and medical experts and the accuracy of their decisions.

Accurate medical diagnoses can mean the difference between correctly detecting cancer or failing to detect it. Accurate forensic identification can mean the difference between convicting an innocent person or rightly setting them free. Using Dual-process Theory for understanding human, safety-critical decision making, his goal is to build a unifying theory of these seemingly disparate fields of human expertise.

As an ATSE Young Science Ambassador, and a Talking Scientist, Matthew has visited high schools and lead regional science outreach activities promoting careers in STEM. His research has been featured in New Scientist, National Geographic, the Age, The Australian and ABC. But his most treasured science outreach experience was spending weeks teaching computers to children in a third-world primary school.

2015