I first did a degree in vision science before realising that I was more interested in how visual information is used to control action – so ‘converted’ to psychology at Edinburgh University (where I met my PhD supervisor, Prof John Wann) and then enrolled for a PhD.
Some great locations – Edinburgh, Queensland (as a post-doctoral fellow) and St Andrews and Aberdeen as a member of academic staff.
Professor of Cognitive Psychology
University of Leeds / Bradford Institute of Health Research / Centre for Vision (Norway)
What topics do you work on?
My major focus is identifying and supporting children with difficulties in primary schools. I am particularly interested in motor control so a lot of my work is about identifying children with handwriting problems and then providing interventions to help them improve this (critical) skill. I am very proud to be involved with the ‘Born in Bradford’ project – check it out!
What methods do you use?
Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour so I specialise in developing objective measures of behaviour. We use advances in technology to precisely measure how adults and children move their arms and we use robotic devices to help accelerate motor learning.
Who was your favourite teacher?
I didn’t really get on with most of my teachers and I don’t think many of them liked me! But I have been taught (as well as being inspired and supported) by brilliant scientists subsequently – such as Prof John Wann (PhD supervisor)
Me and my work
I’m a psychologist who coordinates a large team of outstanding scientists (including associate professors, lecturers, post-doctoral researchers, PhD students and interns) across a number of disciplines (engineering, surgery, education, dentistry amongst others!). Our goal is to make the world a better place in three areas: childhood development; surgery; mobility and rehabilitation. I am a runner (especially hills and fells) when I am not being a scientist.
No typical day (one of the great things about being a scientist!). But once a week the whole team will meet and we’ll decide forthcoming priorities, review incoming data, plan grant submissions and check that our plans are on target. I will often meet with headteachers and teachers to discuss identifying and supporting children within their schools. I will spend at least one day per week in Bradford (in an NHS research institute) where a lot of our work is based .