Mari Riess Jones joined the Department of Psychology in 1968 (as a visiting Assistant Professor) in an era when there were few women faculty at The Ohio State University (or other universities). Eventually, she was promoted, tenured, and became a full professor in 1976.
Throughout her academic career her interests centered on the role of time, synchrony and rhythm in attention and memory. This focus upon time and the time structure of events people encounter challenged the main tenants of cognitive psychology which was based upon an information processing formulation which endorsed a view of time as basis for processing and encoding information and not as basis for synchronization of attending.
Early publications aimed to establish a role for event time structure in guiding the attending of listeners using simple musical events. Contrary to conventional views, this research revealed that people were best at judging components of a melody that occur at expected time points (versus unexpected ones). Research along these lines permitted development of more rigorous models of attending outlined in three major papers in Psychological Review (1976, 1989; 1999) among many other papers.
As most of her research has focused upon perception of music-like events, she has played a leading role in the Society of Music Perception and Cognition as a board member and President; also receiving this society's Life Time Achievement award. Other awards from Ohio State include the Joan Huber Research Award for Outstanding Scholarship and the Fred Brown Award (from the Psychology Department). Professor Jones retired from The Ohio State University to spend time writing a book.