Doug Crawford

They’ll Never Take His (Academic) Freedom!

When he's not investigating the complex link between vision and movement, he's planting trees, collecting swords, or hitting the road.


Doug Crawford is a Canada Research Chair and Professor at the Department of Psychology at York University, where he explores the complex connection between vision and movement. We asked everything from his hobbies to what historical figure he’d like to meet in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What do you like most about being a researcher?

Besides the occasional moments of discovery — seeing something no one has ever seen before — it’s the daily interactions with trainees that I find most rewarding. Helping a young person take the next step in their project or career lets you go home feeling like you’ve done something useful.

What advice would you give young researchers?

Do what you love to do — it’s the only thing that will sustain you through the ups and downs of a lifelong career in research.

What inspired you to become a researcher?

Growing up around nature in Ontario, there were plenty of small wonders to study and appreciate, but no one in my family had ever gone to university, let alone become a researcher. It was only when a biology professor named Stan Caveney moved next door that this seemed like a real possibility. Stan also gave me my first real job doing research as an NSERC summer student.

What do you like to do for fun?

Lots of things: play with my kids, plant trees, read history and fiction, collect medieval swords, weekend drives in my Dodge Hemi. It makes up for the long hours and low pay one goes through as a student and young researcher.

What’s your favourite cuisine? 

I’m quite happy with a cold beer and some tacos at my local pub and patio.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be? 

I’m way too old to be a rock star, but I still like to sing and would also like to take a crack at writing fiction if I ever have time.

If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?

I’d like to ride into battle with William Wallace of ‘Braveheart’ fame. Supposedly his mother was a Crawford. They will never take our freedom!