Texas Tech University

Faculty Profile

Meet: BRIAN STILL
Professor & Incoming Chair
Department of English

Brian Still, TTU

It's not possible to settle on just one professional title for Brian Still. The Full Professor of Technical Communication and Incoming Chair of the Department of English also is an inventor of wireless eye-tracking technology, which came about while he was Director of TTU's Usability Research Lab. His fall 2012 TEDx presentation on Augmented Reality & Eye-Tracking explains the technology's boundless potential to offer real time control of objects on the screen—to play video games with your eyes, direct drones, move robotic arms, basically to operate objects just by looking at them; and onlookers can see everything the users/operators see as they see it. Then there's Brian Still the entrepreneur. He founded startup company Grinbath to commercialize these eye-tracking inventions—there are more than one now—and for that, Still was award TTU's very first President's Excellence in Commercialization Award in 2015. His eye-tracking technology has expanded to include EyeGuide Focus, which screens for potential concussions in 10 seconds. Now, as this husband and father of three prepares to take the helm of of the Department of English on September 1, the excitement is palpable, and the sky's the limit.

PROFESSIONAL

Q: How long have you worked at TTU?

A: Since 2002

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Q: How long have you worked in your current position?

A: I'm just moving into the position effective September 1.

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Q: What's the favorite part of your job?

A: The thought that I can make a positive difference for students that improves, at the same time, the department, college and university.

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Q: Why did you choose this profession?

A: I like to teach, and I like to answer questions or solve problems as a researcher and inventor.

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Q: What would your co-workers/colleagues be surprised to learn about you?

A: I played a year of semi-pro baseball after playing on scholarship in college.

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Q: What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment in your current position?

A: Probably not applicable. In my previous work running the Usability Research Lab at TTU, I'm proud of the inventions we created that are now commercial products in use around the world.

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Q: How do you define success?

A: Doing the best you can do, no cheating, every day. We often don't get to make the rules about what means winning or losing, but we can control how much we care and how hard we try.

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Q: When it comes to doing a great job, what is your "secret weapon"?

A: Perseverance.

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Q: What's one sentence you'd like to hear from your boss?

A: "Good job, now do it again." It praises, empowers, and demands in 6 words.

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PERSONAL

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I was born in an Army Hospital in Fort Hood, Texas, but spent most of my childhood through high school living in Independence, Missouri.

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Q: Hobbies, interests, volunteer work?

A: Coaching youth sports, hiking, yeah, killing myself running a startup company.

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Q: How do you like to spend your free time?

A: For the last 6 years I've run a startup, EyeGuide (spun off from TTU), that makes eye tracking hardware and software solutions, including Focus, a 10-second concussion test. I really don't have any free time but when I get it I use it up on my family.

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Q: If you could spend 3 weeks on a desert island with anyone from any time period, who would you choose and why?

A: My wife, Amy Koerber. With our schedules and the kids, 3 weeks on a desert island together, alone, sounds pretty good right now.

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Q: What one food do you wish had zero calories?

A: Honestly, I don't think about calories a lot.

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Q: Favorite big city?

A: Paris.

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Q: Favorite small town?

A: Grand Lake, Colorado.

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Q: Favorite wilderness area?

A: Arapaho National Forest.

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Q: Dream vacation?

A: Either Colorado in the mountains or France, countryside and Paris.

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Q: If you could go back in time and give your younger self advice, what would it be?

A: "If you want to listen, that's fine, it will probably help some, but if you don't, then don't worry about it. You got this. Have fun."

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Q: What is your favorite book quote, song lyric, movie line or punch line?

A: James 4:17: "Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."

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Q: If they were to make a move about your life, what would the title be, and who would play you?

A: I think it would focus on the last 6 years running EyeGuide, and it would be titled "What the Hell Were You Thinking?" Jim Carrey should star. He seems normal but at any point you know he can just go crazy and lose it, and that sounds about right for my time running EyeGuide.

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20 QUESTIONS

1. Enchiladas or Tacos?

Enchiladas.

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2. Spaghetti or Lasagna?

Spaghetti.

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3. Cake or Pie?

Both.

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4. Cookies or Brownies?

Both.

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5. Sweet or Unsweet?

No tea for me, thanks.

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6. Caf or Decaf?

Same on the coffee.

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7. Vanilla or Chocolate?

Both.

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8. Football or Baseball?

Baseball.

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9. Hockey or Soccer?

Neither.

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10. Beach or Mountains?

Mountains.

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11. Urban or Country?

Country.

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12. Love or Money?

Love.

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13. Video or Audio?

Video

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14. Superman or Batman?

In the last movie it would have been better if they had just killed each other at the exact same time. I'm a little over all of the super hero stuff. We always want super heroes. My Dad could take an entire car apart, all the pieces laid out in our yard, and then he would put it back together, turn it into a roadster, paint it, and then sell it to get us extra money when I was kid. That's a super hero.

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15. Vampires or Werewolves?

See superman/batman answer.

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16. Cats or Dogs?

Dogs.

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17. Venus or Mars?

Well, I can tell you which one we're never going to live on.

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18. Winning or Playing the Game?

Emily Dickinson never lived long enough to know her impact. Most Medal of Honor recipients don't live to get the award. You gotta play the game as best you can because you may not ever know, and it may not matter, if you win or lose. But you'll know how hard you tried.

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19. Be Invisible or Read Minds?

No way I want to know what my wife thinks about me...all the time.

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20. See the Future or Change the Past?

I'm good without either one.

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FAMILY & PETS

Married to Amy Koerber, also on the faculty at TTU. Three kids: Jack (18), about ready to start college in the fall; Olivia (13), my strong-willed equestrian; and Abe (9), my mini-me.

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Archive

Coming February 2018: Another Faculty Q&A

December 2017: Benjamin Owen

October 2017: Raegan Higgins

July 2017: Brian Still

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Brian Still
The Vitals

Job title: Professor & Incoming Chair, Department of English.
Education: AB, William Jewell College;
PhD, University of South Dakota.
Has worked at TTU: since 2002.
Begins new position: September 2017. 
Born in: an Army Hospital in Fort Hood, Texas.
Spent most of childhood through high school in: 
Independence, Missouri.

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