Jul 062015
 

Craig Leth-Steensen*

Carleton University, Canada

bill 

 

Our very distinguished and long-standing member, Professor William (“Bill”) M. Petrusic has left us. He died on Dec. 12, 2014, at the age of 75. He is survived by his wife Elaine and his three children, Michele, Michael, and Christopher. Bill co-hosted Fechner Day 2012 in Ottawa, Canada, which sadly was his last appearance at the annual ISP conference.

Born in Hazeldell, Saskatchewan, on May 18, 1939, Bill received a BA in psychology from the University of British Columbia in 1961, an MA in mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1963, and a PhD in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1968 (where he was supervised by Clyde Coombs). After a stint at the University of British Columbia, he joined the Psychology Department at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada as a professor in 1970 (eventually becoming a Distinguished Researcher and Professor Emeritus in 2004) where he remained until his untimely passing.

Bill’s body of scientific work encompassed (exactly) 50 publications that addressed numerous issues of key importance to psychophysical and psychological researchers. His early published research focussed on the scaling of response time latencies and the study of short-term memory. In the late 70s, Bill published a large number of studies with his student Don Jamieson that dealt with important issues within such areas as duration judgement, preference judgement, and symbolic magnitude judgment (where, hopefully, the major aspect common to all of that work is self-evident). The late 80s and 90s led to a second large body of publications co-authored by another prolific student and eventual close colleague and friend, Joe Baranski. This period yielded seminal work on the semantic congruity effect, memory psychophysics, and the rendering of confidence. Finally, during the last 10 years, Sam Shaki and myself co-authored a number of studies with Bill that served to provide a wealth of novel results pertaining to both the semantic congruity effect and the spatial-numerical association of response codes (or SNARC) effect.

Bill has left behind an enduring legacy, both as a scientist and person, which a great number of the students he has mentored over the years would love to be able to emulate. His dedication to basic scientific work and the development of theory in mathematical terms inspired the people he collaborated with and solidified a place for him in the field as a serious and important researcher. I know that I, along with many others, will dearly miss hashing out research designs and theoretical standpoints with Bill (in addition to numerous discussions surrounding the merits of various 60s-era musical performers).

Keywords: unfolding; stochastic; Dylan; Hays; memory; TOE; reference point; power law; mental rotation; feedback; counting; transitivity; analogue; difference threshold; CVC; cross-over; speed-accuracy; latency-probability; discrete accumulator; slow-and-fast guessing; hard-easy; calibration; context; evidence accrual; comparative instructions; mental number line

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* E-mail: Craig.LethSteensen@carleton.ca

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