Mariana Cazares Rodriguez


Mariana has lived in New Mexico for about eight years now. She is currently an undergraduate working towards a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Counseling and Educational Psychology (CEP). She also helps out as a research assistant in the Vision Sciences and Memory lab, under Dr. Hout. She enjoys learning about human behavior, mental health issues, and the role of psychology in the law enforcement field. She is planning to go to graduate school; specifically, she plans to apply for a master’s program in clinical mental health counseling, and later to acquire a Ph.D. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, going to concerts, reading, and painting.



Project Description:

Real-world visual search often involves searching for targets (for example one’s keys or cell phone) in messy or cluttered environments. In this project, we will present participants with real-world scenes in which the amount of visual clutter is precisely manipulated in the real world in ways that are rarely simulated in laboratory settings. In order to create these scenes, we will undergo a secondary purpose, which is to create a freely available database of real-world scenes and search targets. Visual search stimuli for real-world scenes are time-consuming to create or are simply inaccessible to academic researchers. Consequently, researchers often limit themselves to using stimuli that are not representative of the complexities of real-world search. The purpose of creating a free database will be to help to reduce this limitation and therefore to encourage more academics to study real-world visual search under ecologically valid conditions.



Project Benchmarks:

  • Project description, timeline, and milestones developed with mentor; on file with DSP
  • Complete half of project milestones
  • Complete project
  • Present scholarly work at URCAS
  • Attend a professional conference (without presenting)
  • Take the GRE
  • Promote #DiscoveryScholars ten times on social media




Mariana’s Mentor: Dr. Michael C. Hout:

Michael C. Hout grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Pittsburgh for his bachelor’s degree before moving to Tempe, Arizona to get a master’s and PhD at Arizona State University.  He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at New Mexico State University, and an Associate Editor at the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics. His research focuses primarily on visual cognition (including visual search, attention, eye movements, and memory) and the development of alternative methods of collecting similarity data for use in multi-dimensional scaling. He has won several awards for research and teaching, including the Rising Star award from the Association for Psychological Science, and currently engages in outside consulting for organizations such as Major League Baseball. In his limited free time, he enjoys walking his dogs, hiking, playing hockey, and riding his motorcycle.