Dunbar, Kevin

Kevin Dunbar
Professor
Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology
Program in Neuroscience & Cognitive Science
College of Education
3304U Benjamin Building
Phone: 
301-405-7233
General Research Interests: 
  • Scientific thinking heuristics
  • Analogy 
  • Deduction
  • Causal thinking
  • Creativity
  • Development of scientific thinking skills
  • Gender and science
  • Neuroimaging of complex thinking (fMRI, fNIRS, ERP)
  • Effects of science education on the brain
Background: 

Kevin Niall Dunbar is Professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland College Park. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the National University of Ireland (Dublin) and his PhD from the University of Toronto. Professor Dunbar is renowned for his research on the ways that scientists think, reason, and interact while they are making discoveries and inventing new technologies. Over the past twenty-five years he has focused on the heuristics that scientists use to construct theories, design experiments, invent new technologies, and make scientific discoveries as well as the development of scientific thinking skills in in children. Specifically, he focuses on reasoning strategies such as analogy, causality and their application in adults, children and scientists. Professor Dunbar uses three converging methodologies to explore scientific thinking. First, he conducts naturalistic observations of scientists in their labs, students in undergraduate laboratory classes, and visitors to science museums (usually families). Second, he conducts experiments with students generating theories, conducting experiments, and interpreting data. Third, he conducts neuroimaging research on students as they learn about Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Specific topics of his research have been the roles of unexpected results in fostering discovery and invention, Gender in the scientific laboratory, and the roles of analogy and causal thinking in discovery and invention. He has published in the fields of Educational Neuroscience, Experimental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Education. In addition to publications in academic forums, his work on discovery has been featured in WIRED magazine, Time ideas, and the Washington Post, to mention a few. He regularly speaks in North America and Europe on the topics of creativity,the effects of learning science on the brain, and how to improve scientific thought in schools, universities, and industry.