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Flip Phillips


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Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Skidmore College


Flip Phillips’ career trajectory began in the early 1980s in the school of architecture at The Ohio State University. Attracted to architecture for its cross-disciplinary combination of art, engineering, and science, Phillips was dazzled by computer graphics when the architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill gave a campus demonstration of a computer fly-through of Chicago. Inspired, he created his own self-designed major in computer art and earned a B.F.A. in 1986.

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Phillips taught and did research in medical imaging before joining up with the newly founded Pixar—another hotbed of interdisciplinary inspiration. As Pixar became both more successful and more specialized, Phillips returned to Ohio State for a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology (with a brief detour back to his first love of architecture). There, he specialized in the visual perception and understanding of three-dimensional shape, inspired by his earlier architectural and computer graphics training.

Phillips is a past editor of The Mathematica Journal, which focuses on computer mathematics across the spectrum of science, art, and social and economic modeling. He has written and edited books, journal articles, and reviews on subjects such as vision and its interaction with touch, computational modeling, prestidigitation and magic, visual aesthetics and deceptive motion in sports.

A member of the Skidmore faculty since 1998, he teaches such courses as quantitative and computational methods, perception, and a FYE on ‘designing a mind.’ Currently, his research centers on the visual and haptic perception of two- and three-dimensional shape as well as psychological aesthetics.

In his spare time he can be found chopping out book reports and paradiddle-diddles on the snare with the Avant Garde Alumni Drumline.