2018 Early Investigator Award

Three outstanding researchers were chosen as finalists for the 2018 SfNIRS Early Investigator Award. Each presented a first-author abstract at the Tokyo meeting. After much deliberation by the selection committee (Ilias Tachtsidis, Yoko Hoshi, and John Spencer) based on CVs, letters of support, and the conference talks, among other things, Kaja Jasińska was named our 2018 Outstanding Early Investigator.

In her presentation in Tokyo, Kaja gave us an overview of her research (and beyond!) regarding how children learn to read in rural Côte d’Ivoire. In her talk she overviewed topics of phonological awareness and how language skills are important for reading but so are cognitive skills (which relate to health and nutrition, age, family resources, etc). Her results reviewed the influence of predictors such as age, gender, cocoa labor, socioeconómical status, domestic work, local and French phonological awareness among others, as well as of course fNIRS derived brain activity data. She made a strong case to show that environment matters for literacy, and further that neural sensitivity to lexicality is a strong predictor to reading skills.

Lauren Emberson, and Sabrina Brigadoi were the other finalists. Lauren gave us an excellent talk on the importance of understanding semantic representations in the brain concluding that there seems to be a mismatch between local cortical representation and semantic encoding. Sabrina, in her talk, presented combined data from fNIRS and tDCS on working memory in older adults in a work oriented towards preventing cognitive decline.


2018 Nominations Rules


  • A candidate must have an advanced degree (e.g. PhD, MSc, MD) or be working towards an advanced degree.
  • A candidate must not be more than six (full time equivalent) years post the award of their advanced degree.
  • The candidate must provide evidence of sustained activity in fNIRS research (as demonstrated by their curriculum vitae and publication list).
  • The candidate must be a member of the Society for fNIRS.
  • The candidate must submit one (or more) abstract(s) as a lead author, make a presentation of his/her work during the Society for fNIRS conference in the year when he/she is nominated.
  • A candidate who is unsuccessful any given year can be re-nominated in a subsequent year if he/she meets the award criteria in the year of nomination.


The candidate must be nominated (self nomination is not allowed) and the nominator must be a member of the Society for fNIRS . A full nomination package must contain:

  • a nomination letter;
  • a two page curriculum vitae demonstrating the candidate’s accomplishments;
  • a list of the candidate’s publications;
  • an additional letter of support;
  • a copy of the candidate’s submitted abstract.

Nominations with an incomplete package will not be considered.