School: Nicolson Institute, Stornoway. Universities: University of Glasgow (MA), University of York (DPhil).
MA, DPhil, CPsychol, AFBPsS
University of York (post-doc), Cardiff University (Lectureship), Robert Gordon’s University (Lectureship), University of Leeds (senior lectureship), and now Heriot-Watt University (professor).
Me and my work
I am a Professor of Psychology and Head of Department. I try to split my time equally between teaching, research and admin duties. I lead a team of 18 academics in the UK and six overseas. I also work for other universities on extrenal examining, interviewing, and quality assurance. I am the Chair of the British Psychological Society’s Education and Public Engagement Board and a Trustee of the Society.
The great thing is that every day is different! For example, yesterday I had a meeting with senior academics in York, discussing psychology education policy; today I met one of my PhD students who is studying parental bereavement and met a couple of my final-year project students to discuss their dissertations; and tomorrow my focus is on a meeting and writing policy documents around my department’s research strategy.
What topics do you work on?
I’m a cognitive psychologist with particular interests in memory and language, including language acquisition, autobiographical memory (memory of events from our lives), childhood amnesia, and changes in cognition across the lifespan.
What methods do you use?
Quantitative methods: most experimental, lab-based work, but also questionnaire studies. And now I am venturing – tentatively – into some qualitative work.
Who was your favourite teacher?
Hmm… Sadly no massively inspiring teachers at school – which is maybe why I picked a subject (psychology) to study at university that I’d never studied at school.