University of Surrey 2014-present, University of Oxford
MSc (Psychology, Surrey), BA Hons (Oxon)
My first career was as a Fiction Editor in Book Publishing before I retrained as a research psychologist.
PhD Student, 2016 – present
What topics do you work on?I work in Creative cognition, particularly with regards to attention and perception, and am interested in how creativity can best be enhanced, particularly in children. At the moment I am researching whether leaky sensory gating (a very early, pre-conscious form of attention) has a role in predicting creative achievement in children as it does in adults. People with this type of attention notice the seemingly irrelevant (think Sherlock Holmes!) and this is believed to enhance creativity by keeping their minds open to a wider range of possibilities, helping them to generate more original ideas.My MSc dissertation was on the different relationship between divergent thinking and creativity in highly creative versus non creative groups. I am also interested in the relationships between creativity and mind wandering, sleep, and sensory processing sensitivity.
What methods do you use?
I use behavioural methods, including eye tracking, computerised experiments and questionnaires. I mainly conduct research in laboratory or school environments.
Who was your favourite teacher?
My A level history teacher, Mr Kelley. I had been very bored at school up until that point and not exactly a high achieving student (!) but his lessons were fascinating, challenging and opened up whole new worlds of ideas. In fact my interest in human behaviour and psychology probably dates from then as he was fascinated by what drove the historical figures we were studying and caused them to act as they did. He was also the teacher who encouraged me to apply to Oxford (albeit for a different subject!) when all the other teachers at my (failing state) school warned me against the ‘stigma’ of an elite education…
My days are rarely the same, which is one of the things I love most about my work. There are periods where I spend all my time with people – teaching undergraduates, in lab meetings, at conferences, testing participants etc – and quieter times where I am reading, marking essays, analysing data and writing up my research. I do, however, spend a lot more time with computers than I had ever anticipated, particularly programming experiments and statistical analyses!