Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Andreas Keil

keilAlmost exactly 8 years ago Andreas Keil joined the Psychology Department at the University of Florida, which marked a major transition personally and professionally. Having grown up in rural southern Germany, Keil was given the opportunity to return to a place he already knew and loved: In the spring term of 2000, just after graduating, the then-new Dr. Keil used an award from the German Psychophysiology Society to seek training with Drs. Lang and Bradley at the UF Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention (CSEA), a world-renowned laboratory devoted to exploring the Psychophysiology of human behavior in health and in psychiatric disease. After an “unforgettable” 3 months at UF Keil started a Position as Assistant Professor at his Alma Mater in Germany, but as he says “3 months were enough to make me want to come back if I ever get a chance, and I came back at least for a week or month or so as often as I could”.

It is not surprising that Keil did not hesitate when the opportunity presented itself in 2007, with an appointment in the Department of Psychology and affiliation with CSEA: Keil’s research is to a large extent influenced by his training at the UF CSEA. He is interested in how human sensation and perception constantly adapt in the service of survival, maximizing the outcomes of our behavior. His work, published in over 100 journal articles, 10 book chapters, and numerous conference proceedings has helped to understand the brain processes mediating perception and attention, in healthy and patient populations. In his field, Keil has been recognized as an international leader, as he serves or has served as associate editor to premier journals in biological and physiological psychology as well as in human perception and attention. He was recently appointed Editor in Chief of the Psychology Section of a new multi-discipline journal, focusing on research methods, a topic that is exciting and dear to Dr. Keil: He also served as chair of a committee to improve and standardize research methods in studies using Electroencephalographic –Brain Wave- data, resulting in a well-received guidelines article. Despite its technical nature, public and news media have been increasingly interested in his work, but Keil is most proud of a story in the French Science magazine for pre-school and kindergarten children “Life and the Sciences Discovered”, which featured his work in 2014.

Currently, Keil’s work is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. Keil is also excited about a collaboration with colleagues in the UF Institute on Aging, seeking to optimize pain treatment, funded by the American Pain Society. His expertise is also frequently sought as a reviewer for these agencies as well as for agencies across the world, and Keil has given numerous invited lectures, in 10 different countries over the last 5 years. Despite using cutting edge techniques of electromagnetic brain imaging, many of which are being developed by Keil and his colleagues, this work is rooted in a long tradition of experimental psychology. This fact is important to Keil, a history geek himself — he keeps a wall mounted newspaper page announcing the opening of the first laboratory of experimental Psychology in Leipzig, Germany, 1879. Married with one adult son, Keil loves the North Florida nature, the plants, animals, and the quiet, lesser visited trails in the many state parks. He raves about canoeing and hiking, and fishing, and he loves driving a beat-up purple pick-up truck – a childhood dream he says.

Keil also enjoys teaching at UF where, as he says, students are pleasant, respectful, appreciative of knowledge, and eager to learn. The enjoyment is mutual, as Keil’s classes tend to quickly fill to the maximum and students’ reviews routinely rank him well above the college mean. Over the past two years, Keil established a laboratory in cognitive neuroscience, in which students actively perform activities of planning, executing, and analyzing physiological data in studies of human cognition. Keil looks forward to teaching this and other classes and thoroughly enjoys the “polite and pleasant atmosphere” at UF.