Skip to main content

Obituary: Professor Glyn Humphrys

Watts Professor of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, and Birkbeck Fellow

It is with great sadness that the College learned that Professor Glyn Humphreys, Fellow of Birkbeck and Watts Professor of Experimental Psychology and Head of Department at the University of Oxford, died suddenly on 14 January 2016.

“Glyn Humphreys was a giant in the many areas of psychology he touched on during his career, especially his contributions to the cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology of attention and perception,” said Professor Mike Oaksford, Head of Department of Psychological Science at Birkbeck.

“Glyn was a lovely man and a great friend of the Department of Psychological Sciences and of this College. He will be sorely missed and all our thoughts are with his wife Jane and their family.”

Professor Humphreys will also be remembered for his enormous contributions to understanding the cognitive effects of stroke and its rehabilitation.

After completing a PhD at Bristol, Professor Humphreys came to Birkbeck in 1979 to join the neuropsychology group, which included Max Coltheart and William Marslen-Wilson. Then aged 24, he was often younger than the students he taught. He commented later: “It was slightly odd being so young because most of my students were older than me and knew more about real life, but it was an educational experience for all of us! Teaching at Birkbeck was a very special period of time for me. The department was going through an exciting time and the ambience was great.”

In his 10 years at Birkbeck Glyn Humphreys made a significant contribution to the department by setting up the Masters in Cognitive Neuropsychology. He became Professor in 1988 and in the same year won Birkbeck’s Ronald Tress Prize for advancements in his field. This was the first of many awards; he held the Spearman Medal and President’s Medal from the British Psychological Society, and in 2015 was given the Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the field of psychology.

On leaving Birkbeck in 1989, Glyn Humphreys was Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Head of Department at the University of Birmingham before joining the University of Oxford. A former President of the Experimental Psychology Society and editor of several journals, Professor Humphreys was also Special Professor at universities in Austria and China. He was a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, and was made a Fellow of Birkbeck in 2007.