James R. Pomerantz is a cognitive psychologist with a specialty in human visual perception and attention. He is Professor of Psychological Sciences at Rice University as well as Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Neurobiology & Anatomy at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Pomerantz earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction and high honors in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1968. Following two years at Bell Telephone Laboratories researching motion perception and helping with the development of PicturePhone (now better known as Skype, Zoom, and Facetime), he earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1974.
He began his teaching career at Yale in 1973, moving to the Johns Hopkins University as Assistant Professor of Psychology in 1974. In 1977, he was appointed Associate Professor and subsequently Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he remained until he joined the faculty of Rice University in 1988, as the Elma W. Schneider Professor of Psychology and Dean of Social Sciences.
Pomerantz moved to Brown University in 1995, as Provost and Professor of Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences. During the 1997-98 academic year, he served as Provost and as Acting President of Brown. In 2000, he returned to Rice University as Professor of Psychology and Director of Neurosciences. From 2001-2006 he also served as Director of Scientia and of the De Lange Conference.
Pomerantz is a Fellow of the Psychonomic Society, where he currently serves as Chair of the Governing Board. He is also a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists. He served as President of the FABBS Foundation, a Washington DC-based non-profit serving the behavioral, psychological, cognitive, and brain sciences; and as President of Disability 101, a Houston, Texas-based non-profit serving individuals with disabling chronic disease. In 2009 he gave the Rock Memorial Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 2011 gave the Kanizsa Lecture at the University of Trieste in Italy. In May 2014 he and his graduate student Kimberley Orsten shared 3rd prize in the international Best Illusion of the Year Contest, sponsored by the Neural Correlate Society.
Pomerantz’s research focuses on human visual perception with an emphasis on the perception of form and of structure in visual patterns, Gestalt psychology, and on the role of attention in perceptual organization. He has also published on motion perception, color perception, texture perception, visual imagery, and theoretical approaches to perception.
Pomerantz is married to Mary B. McIntire, Ph.D., who for 31 years was Dean of the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University. He has two children: Andrew E. Pomerantz (a Yale graduate and Stanford PhD now working as a physical chemist for Schlumberger in Cambridge, MA) and William J. Pomerantz (a Harvard graduate with a Masters from International Space University in Strasburg, France now Vice President for Special Projects at Virgin Orbit near Los Angeles, CA).
His pastimes include photography and running. A volume of his photographs is held in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and in 2006 he became a member of the Houston Marathon Legacy Runners for completing 10 or more Houston full marathons.