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Our PhD students and their research topics

This page provides a summary of research students in the department.

Current PhD students

Student Name Supervisor(s) Research topic
AMBROZIAK, Klaudia Matthew Longo Building Body Representations
BALZAN, Ronald Rick Cooper Hoping for Progress: The Importance of Problem Representations
BATTEN, Jonathan Tim Smith Audiovisual influences on attention and perception in dynamic scenes
BERGER, Natalie Eddy Davelaar Aging and Cognitive control: The role of emotions
BROOKMAN, Annie Iroise Dumontheil Educational Neuroscience
BULGARELLI, Chiara Victoria Southgate Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
CAPRINI, Francesco Fred Dick Auditory Neuroscience
COLLINS, Peter Ulrike Hahn Reasoning & Persuasion
NicoleLoebell100w CRUZ DE ECHEVERRIA LOEBELL, Nicole Mike Oaksford Processes in deductive reasoning with uncertain premises
DAVIS, Rachel Michael Thomas Computational modelling to investigate developmental trajectories of autism
de GUZMAN, Marie Clare Press
Pro Social Beahvour - Social Neuroscience
DONATI, Georgina Iroise Dumontheil Genetic influences on individual differences in the cognitive regulation of emotion
DUCROCQ, Emmanuel Naz Derakhshan Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Applied to Sports)
EDEY, Rosanna Clare Press Biological motion processing in individuals with ASD
ETIENNE, Mervyn Eddy Davelaar Cognitive Insight: Effects of Neurofeedback
FIELDSEND, Megumi Jonathan A. Smith Midlife and involuntary childlessness (IPA research)
FIGUEROA, Victor Fiona Tasker Same sex parenting in Chile
FISHER, Katie Martin Eimer Recognition of familiar and unfamiliar faces in typical and atypical perception
FREIER, Livia Denis Mareschal The interplay of top-down and bottom-up constraints in the development of the selection of action
FRENCH, Jane Jacqueline Barnes Community Psychology: Neighbourhood & Adolescent outcomes
GEE, Prunella Jonathan Smith 'Men's experience of retirement'.
GLENNON, Jennifer Annette Karmiloff-Smith Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Infancy
GODSON, Suzi Jonathan Smith Psychology
GUI, Anna Mark Johnson Understanding the role of inhibition/excitation balance in the early development of ASD.
HAARSTEN, Rianne Mark Johnson Functional connectivity in infants at risk for autism (and ADHD)
HAENSEL, Jennifer Atsushi Senju Application of Portable Eye-tracking Technology to Study the Effect of Cultural Norms on the Development of Social Cognition
HARADA, Nanami Atsushi Senju Culture and autism: Comparing Japan and the UK
HARTIGAN, Alex Anne Richards The time course of disgust contamination
HUGHES, Kate Annette Karmiloff-Smith Studying the link between Alzheimers and Down syndrome in children
JENKINS, Michael Martine Eimer Visual Attention & Visual Working Memory
MAKATSORI, Melina Anne Miles Psychological impact of allergies
MARES, Ines Atsushi Senju PhD in Psychology (Processing of eye contact in the subcortical pathway - testing the fast-track modulation model)
MARTINEZ, Jose Virginia Eatough The Fragmented Family: Making sense of loss of contact between a biological parent and a child post divorce/separation
MERMELSHTINE, Roni Jacqueline Barnes The prediction of academic achievement from mother-child interactions in the first year
MITSOPOULOS, Constantinos Rick Cooper Reinforcement learning and internal models in the control of action
NAKO, Rebecca Tim Smith Attention in naturalistic scences
NIZZA, Isabella Jonathan Smith How are illness and identity represented by chronic pain sufferers and how does the process of learning to self-manage pain affect these relationships?
PAHLMAN, Suzanne Rick Cooper Modeling a Typical Devlopment
PAIN, Oliver Angelica Ronald The Generic Basis & Adolesent Psychocic
PANESAR, Gurmukh Anne Richards Inattentional Blindness and Working Memory Capacity
PAPASAVVA, Michael Marie Smith Individual Differences in Face Perception
PENG, Ching Denis Mareschal Cross-Modal Task-Switching
PIRAZZOLI, Laura Mark Johnson An investigation into the mechanism and Role of Social Touch in Early Development
POMIECHOWSKA, Barbara Natasha Kirkham development and neural basis of multimodal object representation in infancy
QI, Xiaofei Ted Melhuish The impact of preschool experience on children's school readiness in less-developed rural China
RENDELL, Nick Eddy Davelaar Computational Modelling
RICHOMME, Alan Michael Thomas Computational Modelling / Semantic cognition
ROCHA, Sinead-Elouise Denis Mareschal Cross-Model Information Intergration & Inhibitory Controlk in Children
SADIBOLOVA, Renata Matthew Longo Body representation and autonomic control
SAFFARI, Ayden Emma Meaburn Integration of multiple datasets for investigation into the genetic basis of autism
SEXTON, Nicholas Rick Cooper The computational basis of executive function
SOOD, Mariam Marty Sereno Neural Basis of Comprehension
STARR, Rachel Jonathan Smith How do people with congenital  disorders think about selective preproduction
SWAN, Kristen Natasha Kirkham Children's developing learning mechanisms
SYMONS, Germaine Mike Oaksford Actual scientific reasoning from a Bayesian perspective
THACKERAY, Lisa Virginia Eatough Using IPA to explore the experience of happiness
TURKISTANI, Wafa Jonathan Smith "Heatlh Psychology"
VAGNONI, Eleonora Matt Longo Influence of emotion on space perception
VANCE, James Mike Oaksford Negations in reasoning
VERDE RIVERA, Jose Francisco Virginia Eatough Pregnancy and motherhood: An interpretative phenomenological analysis
VERNETTI, Angelina Atsushi Senju Social Cognition in Autism
WHELAN, Yvonne Edward Barker Oppositionality: Childhood predictions and outcomes
YON, Daniel Clare Press Mechanisms for mapping between action and perception.

Completed PhDs and doctorates

  • Massimiliano Papera 'Study of the mechanisms of attention and memory that are associated with neglect of unexpected visual stimuli'.  (Supervisor: Professor Anne Richards)
  • Phillip Pell 'Influence of context on the neural representation of facial expressions' (MRC-funded). (Supervisor: Professor Anne Richards)
  • Georgina Portelli Grammatical and conceptual categories of gender in Maltese and English.  (Supervisor: Professor Michael Thomas)
  • Lymarie Rodriguez My research project examines young men’s experiences of self-change and recovery from addiction in 12-Step fellowships (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous). I am interested in understanding how young adults move into a life-structure without drug and alcohol  abuse, and how participation in these fellowships influences their changing sense of self-identity. The study has a particular focus on conceptualizing self-change as the core process of any recovering journey, and employs various methodical strategies (i.e. case studies, longitudinal research) with IPA as the main analytical framework. Contact: (Supervisor:  Professor Jonathan A Smith)
  • Stuart Rusby Childhood temporary separation: Long-term effects of wartime evacuation in World War 2. (Supervisor:  Dr Fiona Tasker)
  • Dana Shai Maternal embodied mentalisation: Nonverbal manifestions of mentalisations in mother-infant interaction. (Supervisor:  Professor Jay Belsky)
  • Monica Shiakou Play and learning attitudes of Greek-Cypriot parents and teachers: Their impact on 4-6 year olds. (Supervisor:  Professor Jay Belsky )
  • Pnina Shinebourne My Phd examines women’s experience of addiction and recovery with particular focus on metaphors and images in participants’ accounts and visual materials. I am involved in the Pluralism in Qualitative Research project (funded by Birkbeck & BPS) applying different qualitative methods to one interview to explore creative tensions resulting from a pluralistic qualitative approach. I supervise several research projects applying IPA to psychotherapy.

Shinebourne, P. and Smith,  J.A. (2009). Alcohol and the self: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the experience of addiction and its impact on the sense of self and identity. Addiction Research & Theory, 17,152-167. Contact: (Supervisor:   Professor Jonathan A Smith)

  • Sarah Snoxall The role of prior knowledge in children's categorisation.Funded by the ESRC. (Supervisor:  Professor Denis Mareschal)
  • Leah Tomkins My PhD is concerned with the experience of being a carer, and with how people manage to balance their work commitments with the responsibility of caring for a relative.  I have a particular interest in epistemology and in using phenomenology's broad philosophical heritage to develop different ways of conceptualising the self, and to explore new methodological possibilities, such as using IPA with focus groups.

Tomkins, L. and Eatough, V. (in press) Reflecting on the use of IPA with focus groups: pitfalls and potentials. Qualitative Research in Psychology. Contact: (Supervisor:  Dr Virginia Eatough)

  • Jo Wiltshire Relational priming and analogical reasoning in children. Funded by the ESRC. (Supervisor:  Professor Michael Thomas and Professor Denis Mareschal)
  • Rachel Wu Learning to learn: How infants learn to use attentional cue.  (Supervisor:  Natasha Kirkham with Denis Mareschal)
  • Kalanit Ben-Ari Adult attachment styles, parental marital relationships and romantic relationships. (Supervisor: Professor Jay Belsky)
  • Cornelia Bremer 'Differences in lateralised attentional processing patterns as a function of emotion, anxiety and handedness using the dot probe paradigm' (ESRC funded). (Supervisor: Professor Anne Richards)
  • Samuel Cheadle Mechanisms of visual binding. (Supervisor:  Professor Marius Usher)
  • Tessa Dekker Development of cortical organisation for graspable objects. Funded by the EU. (Supervisor:  Professor Marty Sereno)
  • Sarah Dilks Building bridges to observational perspectives: Mapping processes in psychological therapy in psychosis.  (Supervisor:  Dr Fiona Tasker)
  • Anat Elhalal Role of PFC in memory.  (Supervisor:  Professor Marius Usher )
  • Roberto Filippi The brain basis of bilingual language acquisition. (Supervisor:  Professor Michael Thomas)
  • Dr Karla Holmboe Funded by MRC/ESRC interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellowship. (Supervisor:   Dr Angelica Ronald)
  • Themis Karaminis The computational modelling of atypical language development  (Principal supervisor: Michael Thomas; second supervisor: Richard Cooper)
  • Robert King The evolutionary function of the female orgasm. (Professor Jay Belsky)
  • Victoria Knowland Audiovisual integration and developmental reading deficits.( Professor Michael Thomas )
  • Hanna Marno The effect of social context on object perception and memory processes.  (Dr Eddy Davelaar with Prof Gergely Csibra )
  • Frances Minhinnick My research is an in-depth examination of how ordinary people experience personal financial debt. This is an important issue particularly in the current economic climate. I have conducted the interviews and am currently doing the analysis. This is part of a Doctorate in family and systemic psychotherapy run jointly by Birkbeck and the Institute of Family Therapy. Contact:  (Professor Jonathan A Smith )
  • Frank Baughman Empirical and computational investigations of the relationship between intelligence and development: mental-age matching studies of cognitive variability in the normal range.  (Supervisor: Professor Michael Thomas)
  • Kalanit Ben-Ari Adult attachment styles, parental marital relationships and romantic relationships. (Supervisor: Professor Jay Belsky)
  • Cornelia Bremer 'Differences in lateralised attentional processing patterns as a function of emotion, anxiety and handedness using the dot probe paradigm' (ESRC funded). (Supervisor: Professor Anne Richards)
  • Samuel Cheadle Mechanisms of visual binding. (Supervisor:  Professor Marius Usher)
  • Tessa Dekker Development of cortical organisation for graspable objects. Funded by the EU. (Supervisor:  Professor Marty Sereno)
  • Sarah Dilks Building bridges to observational perspectives: Mapping processes in psychological therapy in psychosis.  (Supervisor:  Dr Fiona Tasker)
  • Haiko Ballieux Infant object perception and action.( Principal supervisor: Professor Denis Mareschal; second supervisor: Richard Cooper)
  • Andreas Aresti My PhD explores reformed male ex-prisoners' experiences of self-change,  focusing on 'what it is like to live with the ex-offender status' & how  this is negotiated in everyday life, when considering both the negative & positive implications attached to the term. Findings show ex-offender status is a binary phenomenon with a contradictory influence on the reformed offender's sense of self and suggest existing policy can be detrimental to ex-offenders who have genuinely turned their lives around.

Aresti, A., Eatough, V. and Brooks-Gordon, B. (in press). Doing time after time: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of reformed ex-prisoners' experiences of self-change, identity and career opportunities. Psychology, Crime & Law. Contact: (Supervisor  Dr Virginia Eatough)

  • Nadja Althaus Effects of word learning on infant categorisation.Funded by the EU (Supervisor: Professor Denis Mareschal)
  • Caspar Addyman Rule-based category learning in infants.Funded by the EU. ( Supervisor: Professor Denis Mareschal)
  • Nadja Althaus: Investigating the role of word learning in category acquisition. (Supervisor: Dr Jennifer Aydelott)
  • Tahereh L. Ansari (2006 -2010): The cognitive and neural correlates of attentional control in anxiety (MSc funded by School Studentship; and PhD funded by ESRC studentship). Methodologies: Eye-movements and ERPs. (Supervisor: Dr Naz Derakshan)
  • Charlene Coore (2005 -2010 ): Exposure to violence and cognitive biases in Jamaican children (Common-Wealth studentship). Methodologies: Cognitive and Behavioural measures. (Supervisors: Professor Jacqueline Barnes and Dr Naz Derakshan)
  • Pari Farzim: Children's accounts of having a parent with mental health problems. Professor Jonathan A Smith
  • Sean Hammond (2010): Children's Story Authoring with Propp's Morphology (principal supervisor: Helen Pain, Edinburgh; second supervisor: Dr Tim Smith
  • Maria Kakogianni: The development of autonomy among young people with learning disabilities and psychiatric disorders: The impact of gender. (Supervisor: Dr Fiona Tasker)
  • Rob Leech (2005): Development of Analogical Reasoning (principal supervisor: Denis Mareschal; second supervisor: Richard Cooper)
  • Robert McCandless: Facilitating reflexive abilities in family therapy
  • David Pentecost: Psychiatrists' views of ADHD. Professor Jonathan A Smith
  • Silvia Rigato: Interaction between emotional facial expression and eye gaze processing in adults and infants. Professor Mark Johnson
  • Oliver Robinson: Crisis, development and the self. Professor Jonathan A Smith
  • Nicolas Ruh (January 2007): Acquisition and Control of Sequential Routine Activities: Modelling and Empirical Studies (principal supervisor: Richard Cooper; second supervisor: Denis Mareschal)
  • Haggay Seri: Jewish parents' perceptions of circumcision. Professor Jonathan A Smith
  • Sue Stuart Smith: The personal experience of IVF. Professor Jonathan A Smith
  • Susan Wagstaff: Depression and mothering. Professor Jonathan A Smith