Psychology Prof. Richard Russell had no idea what to study in college, let alone what to do with the rest of his life. After two years of indecision, he left Pomona College to work as a merchant seaman. Between visits to far-flung ports of call, he learned how to swab the decks, steer the ship, and tie a monkey's fist. He also read classic science texts and got hooked. When he got off the ship he returned to Pomona and finished with a degree in neuroscience, later completing a Ph.D. at MIT in cognitive science, focusing on visual perception.
At Gettysburg College, Russell teaches General Psychology, Sensation and Perception, Human Cognition, and the Advanced Laboratory in Perception. As much as possible, he tries to engage his students in research. Work in his laboratory is focused on how we perceive faces, and he is known for discovering that some people are "super-recognizers" who rarely forget a face, and for advancing a biologically-based account of how makeup works.
During the 2013 - 2014 academic year, Russell is on sabbatical at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland. He is continuing his research on face perception and beginning new projects with local collaborators on face perception.