Postgraduate Research Students

Our current research students in the Psychology Department are working in a large variety of areas. In addition to the featured postgraduate researchers outlined below, please visit our Psychology Postgraduate page for more information about our areas of specialism in research and research opportunities. In addition, details of individual academic research interests and collaborations can be found by visiting our Psychology Department Staff pages.

Name: Sherin Salem
Area of research: Cognitive / Developmental / Educational Psychology
Supervised by: Dr Alan Martin
Overview: My research is investigating conceptual change in primary school children, focusing specifically on conceptual change in relation to astronomy concepts such as the day/night cycle and moon phases. It is aiming to: (a) identify the misconceptions that children hold in this area, (b) investigate how the children’s concepts change over time and (c) explore the factors that might facilitate children’s conceptual change. It is hoped that this research will provide a better understanding of conceptual change processes among children and contribute to the development of interventions to promote conceptual change in children’s science education.


Margaret-TilleyName: Margaret Tilley (Graduate Teaching Assistant)
Area of Research: The factors involved in chronic pain in people with a spinal cord injury
Supervised by: Dr Katherine Finlay
Overview: Over 62% of spinal cord injury (SCI) patients experience chronic pain, however, in the UK there is currently no tailored pain management programme. The development of a tailored programme requires a profile of the biological, psychological and social characteristics of chronic pain sufferers with SCI but the existing knowledge base is fragmented. I aim to carry out a study with spinal cord injured in-patients at the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC), Stoke Mandeville. Participants will be asked to complete a set of eight pain and psychological assessments and to provide salivary cortisol samples to assess levels of stress. Additionally, a cross-sectional study using the same questionnaires and cortisol sampling will be undertaken with out-patients of the NSIC. It is anticipated that the outcome of the research will be the generation of a knowledge base from which a SCI-specific pain management programme will be designed.


Jasmine HearnName: Jasmine Hearn
Area of research: Chronic Pain Following a Spinal Cord Injury
Supervised by: Dr Katherine Finlay
Overview: Chronic pain after spinal cord injury (SCI) is highly prevalent, affecting over 60% of the SCI population, and psychologically debilitating, often described as worse than the injury itself. Normal treatments offered to able-bodied people prove ineffective for SCI patients, but understanding of pain following injury remains limited. My research focuses on understanding the lived experience of SCI-specific pain in order to inform the development of future pain management programmes specific to the needs of this population. A mindfulness intervention will also be trialled, in order to assess its efficacy for the SCI population, in terms of pain-related outcomes, as well as psychological and social outcomes.


Masa PopovacName: Maša Popovac
Area of Research: Cyberpsychology
Supervised by: Dr Philip Fine
Overview: My primary research interest is in the field of Cyberpsychology. My DPhil study is looking at behaviours and perceptions of adolescents and their parents regarding cyberbullying, online risks and parental mediation. I am looking at adolescent and adult online behaviours and experiences as well as comparing parents’ perceptions of their children’s online media use with adolescents’ actual online behaviours. My research is a longitudinal, cross-cultural comparison between the UK and South Africa.


Gillian HillName: Gillian Hill
Area of research: Exploring Insight beyond the cognitive domain
Supervised by: Dr Shelly Kemp
Overview: Insight (the ‘a-ha’ moment) has been related to creativity and studied to inform models of cognition and thinking. My research aims to explore insight beyond the framework of cognitive psychology. Initial exploratory studies have investigated insight experience in everyday life, identifying factors not addressed by the current experimental cognitive psychology approach such as the existence of negative insights, ‘uh-oh’ moments. Therefore future studies hope to explore these aspects including biological markers (for instance heart rate) and individual differences in emotionality relating to insight.


Edward Lopez-CattellName: Edward Lopez-Cattell
Supervised by: Dr Philip Fine
Overview: Looking at whether improving timekeeping ability will improve reading comprehension in dyslexics and non-dyslexics. Timekeeping ability and reading comprehension are both considered to be executive function tasks (Brown, 2006). Bidirectional interference implies that that due to competition for attentional resources, timekeeping and reading comprehension will interfere with each other (Brown & Bemmett, 2002). Thus improving timekeeping ability may assist reading comprehension. It is important to investigate in dyslexic samples due to dyslexics usually having impaired reading comprehension. Therefore if it is possible to influence reading comprehension via timekeeping, it could be more prominent in dyslexics.


Hannah MurphName: Hannah Murphy
Supervised by: Dr Alan Martin
Area of Research: Emotion comprehension and working memory
Overview: Investigating emotion detection and working memory in relation to a variety of measured factors in specific adult populations, using an online questionnaire. An additional face-to-face follow-up study will then be conducted with a selection of the questionnaire participants to investigate working memory by using cognitive tasks and the ability to detect emotion.

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