Psychologist heads Social Sciences at USC

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Psychologist heads Social Sciences at USC

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Published on 20 November 2013

An experimental psychologist who has worked as an academic from Canberra to Brisbane over more than 20 years is now Head of School of Social Sciences at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Professor Doug Mahar recently joined USC after 18 years at Queensland University of Technology, where his senior roles included acting Head of School of Psychology and Counselling and chair of ethics committees.

He is a past president of the Australasian Society for Experimental Psychology and lectured at the Australian National University in Canberra in the 1990s.

“My research focus has been the application of basic perceptual and cognitive theories to issues in human-computer interaction, psychological disorders and the assessment of individuals’ abilities,” he said.

A recent example was a major collaborative project aimed at making home medical devices easier for older people to use.

Professor Mahar said he was excited by the opportunity to incorporate USC’s priority research areas, such as sustainability, across multiple disciplines in the School of Social Sciences.

“USC is already having significant success in its teaching quality and has a growing reputation for cutting-edge research in targeted areas,” he said.

“I want to help the School contribute to those targeted areas. For example: How can a psychologist contribute to sustainability or how can a sociologist contribute to community engagement?”

Professor Mahar said he would encourage “smart teaching” through programs such as Blended Learning and Work-Integrated Learning.

“We could benefit from more industry partnerships and more use of technology without losing the one-to-one experience that USC students really value,” he said.

“I like the human scale of the School and the University. This is my chance to make a real difference, to influence teaching and research and engagement involving hundreds of students and staff.”

Professor Mahar said the campus at Sippy Downs was closer to his Sandgate home than Brisbane City, “in both travel time and spirit”.

“I’ve been at Sandgate for 17 years and come up to the Sunshine Coast so frequently I’m already an honorary Coaster,” he said.

He was educated at schools in Devonport, Tasmania, and is a graduate of the University of Tasmania in Hobart.

Julie Schomberg

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