Education:Edinburgh Napier Uni, Edinburgh Uni, Surrey Uni
Qualifications:I went to school in Scotland and did a range of subjects - bio, chem, physics, english, maths, history, geography, accounting. I later took a foundation course in social science (philosophy, psychology, sociology, history, research methods) before doing a degree in Psychology and Sociology, then a Masters in Psychological Research, then a PhD in Psychology.
Work History:University of Surrey, University of Oxford
Researcher in Developmental Psychology
University of Surrey
Favourite thing to do in my job: Figuring out how to solve problems
I'm a research psychologist in developmental psychology
I study the human brain to understand emotion
I design and carry out research studies to understand how the brain works. To do this, I use tools like MRI and EEG that can show us how the brain functions. For the last few years I’ve worked mainly with kids and young people to help us understand how emotions develop as they grow up. This involves some really cool studies (usually in an MRI machine) – I’ve had teenagers control their own brain activity in a neurofeedback study to look at emotional control, year 6 girls sign up for a year long study where they tell us about how they feel in general and have a brain scan before the transition into high school, and I look at how helpful foods might affect emotions and brain activity. All this is super important in helping scientists figure out how emotion looks in the brain and how this makes us behave.
My Typical Day
Read, write, explore, talk, listen, test, programme, explain.
I have lots of projects happening at once and work with different teams of researchers and students, so there are lots of skills used to keep these going.
I like to start my day with some research reading and writing to keep up to date on what’s happening in my field. After this, I’ll catch up with my teams and plan what needs do be done on projects. I’ll then spend some time working on material for communicating my research (this could be for teaching students, potential participants, a conference or a journal article). For the rest of the day I’ll do one more ‘big’ thing – this will either be testing participants (brain scans, interviews or computer games), computer programming (to make experiments, analyse my data, plot graphs) or looking at data from the studies we’ve done and figuring out what it means (this part is very exciting)! I’m really lucky I get to work with lots of different people and do lots of challenging tasks.
What I'd do with the prize money
I'd support a charity that helps people explore careers in STEM
For lots of reasons, some people don’t believe that they can have jobs in STEM despite being interested. There are loads of great charities that work hard to lift young people up and show them that a curious mind is the only starting point needed – I’d like to use this money support work that brings more people into STEM.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Curious, excitable, diligent
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Encyclopedias! They were full of information and knowledge and I wanted to find out how people knew such things - science!
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Dancer. Or Gymnast.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
They're all quite old...
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Swam through a waterfall
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To live in the countryside, have many cats and dogs, and see every bit of the world.
Tell us a joke.
What happened to the ghost who got lost in the fog??? He was mist :)