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Eleven Birkbeck academics take up the title of Professor

Academics from Birkbeck’s Schools have been conferred to the title of Professor in recognition of their contribution to their respective fields.

Professor Eddy Davelaar
Professor Eddy Davelaar, Professor of Psychology and Applied Neuroscience

We are pleased to share that 11 academics have been conferred to the title of Professor this year. Applications for the conferment of title are welcomed annually and are decided by an Academic Review panel consisting of senior members of staff, including the Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellors.

Those applying for the title of Professor are assessed on a set criterion that includes education and student experience; research or scholarship; leadership and management; and engagement. Successful applications for the title of Professor are recognised for their national/international standing in their subject area as well as their outstanding contribution to their research’s advancements through teaching and scholarship.

This year’s newly appointed professors are:


Fintan Walsh

Professor Fintan Walsh is the Director of MA Text and Performance, Co-Director of Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre, and Director of BiGS (Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality). He serves on the Steering Committee of BISR (Birkbeck Institute for Social Research) and is Chair of Birkbeck’s School of Arts Ethics Committee.

Professor Walsh’s research focuses on contemporary theatre and performance, including the often-overlapping domains of queer practices and cultural politics, emotional and affective experience, and medical humanities and psychosocial subjects. He is the author or editor of eight books, most recently including Theatres of Contagion: Transmitting Early Modern to Contemporary Performance (Methuen Drama, 2019). Professor Walsh’s research has appeared in the leading journals of his field, and his latest work on pandemic grief and digital performance is published by Theatre Journal (73.3, 2021). He has guest edited a number of journal special issues and is Senior Editor of Theatre Research International (Cambridge University Press), the society journal of the International Federation for Theatre Research, of which he is an Executive Committee Member.   

Professor Walsh’s international collaborations have led to visiting fellowships at Freie Universität Berlin, University of Helsinki and University College Dublin. In addition to leading academic networks, he frequently works with artists and cultural industries, including via collaborations with Dickie Beau (supported by ISSF/Wellcome funding), Dublin Theatre Festival, Project Arts Centre Dublin, and the Literary Department of the Abbey Theatre, Ireland. Professor Walsh is frequently invited to speak at other universities and cultural institutions, recently including the National Theatre (London), the Freud Museum and Arcola Theatre.   

María Elena Placencia

Professor María Elena Placencia joined Birkbeck in 1995. Having performed different roles since then, including Assistant Dean/Head of Department, she is currently the Programme Director of various Undergraduate programmes in the Department of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics.

Her research is in the areas of (Spanish) pragmatics and (digital) discourse analysis.  She uses discourse analysis to examine interpersonal and intergroup interaction in face-to-face and digital contexts, with a focus on social media in recent years. She has published extensively in these areas.  One of her recent book publications is Complimenting Behavior and (Self) Praise across Social Media: New Contexts and New Insights , Placencia, M. E., & Eslami, Z. R. (Eds.). (2020) John Benjamins. Her latest project examines discursive racism on Twitter in the context of interethnic interactions in Ecuador.  

María Elena is member of the editorial board of several international journals, including the Journal of Pragmatics, Studies of Hispanic and Luso-Phone Linguistics, Oralia-Análisis del Discurso Oral, Español Actual, Sociocultural Pragmatics, Discurso & Sociedad, Revista Estudios Discurso Digital, among others.

school of Business, Economics and Informatics

Sue Konzelmann

Professor Sue Konzelmann’s research interests include the political economics of austerity, corporate purpose, and the “variety” within liberal capitalism that became apparent in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The current phase of this research considers the alternatives to austerity, including industrial strategy, social policy and financial reform, with the aim of informing theory and practice as well as policy. Sue is Programme Director of a number of Postgraduate programmes within the Department of Management and Chair of the Corporate Governance, Responsibility and Business Ethics Subject Development Group.

Her most recent publications include The Return of the State: Restructuring Britain for the Common Good (Agenda, 2021) and ‘Shareholder Value or Public Purpose? From John Maynard Keynes and Adolf Berle to the Modern Debate’ (forthcoming, 2022) in Research in the Sociology of Organizations. Sue is co-executive editor of the Cambridge Journal of Economics, Research Associate of the Cambridge University Centre for Business Research, and Council Member of the Progressive Economy Forum.  

Geoff Walters

Professor Geoff Walters began his career at Birkbeck as a part-time research officer in the Department of Management, while he was completing an Economic and Social Research Council funded PhD. He went on to take on a full-time lecturer position in the Department in 2008 and has since progressed into academic leadership: as Director of Postgraduate Programmes, Deputy Head of Department, and then Head of Department. In 2019 he became the Executive Dean of the School of Business, Economics and Informatics.

Geoff’s research focus is on organisational governance with a particular focus on the non-profit sport sector in the UK. He believes strongly in the importance of research having relevance for organisations and has worked closely with a number of sporting organisations to influence board practice, as well as contribute to policy within the sector. His most recent work draws on his research to provide training support on the Diversity in Sports Leadership project, funded by Sport England and UK Sport.


Professor Belinda Brooks-Gordon

Professor Belinda Brooks-Gordon’s research interests include the psychological, legal, and social policy questions on gender, rights, sexuality, and the law. She has a number of publications including; ‘The Chemsex Consent Ladder’ in male sex work: perspectives of health providers on derailment and empowerment’ published in Social Sciences, ‘Policing vulnerability in sex work: the harm reduction compass model’ in Policing and Society and has written for a number of publications including the Guardian and The Conversation. She has also published a number of books including; Death rites and rights (2007) and Law and psychology: current legal issues (2006).

Richard Cook

Professor Richard Cook teaches on the Introduction to Social Psychology and Social Psychology modules in the Department of Psychological Sciences.

His most recent publications include ‘Searching for people: non-facing distractor pairs hinder the visual search of social scenes more than facing distractor pairs’ in Cognition 214,  ‘Objects that direct visuospatial attention produce the search advantage for facing dyads’ in Cognition 208 and ‘The perception of interpersonal distance is distorted by the Müller-Lyer illusion’ in Scientific Reports 11.

Eddy Davelaar

Professor Eddy Davelaar completed a PhD at Birkbeck in 2003, since then he has gone on to become the Director of the MSc Psychology (conversion) course and the MSc Psychological Research Methods.

Davelaar uses his expertise in human memory in his research topics, which include: cognitive ageing, cognitive enhancement through training, and cognitive determinants of racial bias. Some of his most recent publications and contributions include Preserved proactive control in ageing: a ‘Stroop Study with emotional faces vs. words’ (2019) in Frontiers in Psychology 10, ‘Mechanisms of neurofeedback: a computation-theoretic approach’ (2018) in Neuroscience, and ‘Consensus on the reporting and experimental design of clinical and cognitive-behavioural neurofeedback studies’ (CRED-nf checklist) (2020) in Brain.

Gillian Forrester

Professor Gillian Forrester is the Deputy Dean for the School of Science. Her research interests include Evolutionary and Developmental Psychology, and is currently funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Forrester founded and is Director of the Me, Human, a project that engages in public outreach and education and advocates for women and girls in science. She is also Co-Director of SOFAR Network, which supports outstanding female academics and researchers. She was also lead researcher on a project that seeks to understand how language emerged through evolution.

In 2021 she published ‘Hindsight 20/20: The Future of laterality research’ in Laterality and she has featured on numerous media outlets including BBC Radio 4, CNN and Reuters and has had articles and research published in Psychology Today, The Washington Post and The Scientist Magazine.

Natasha Kirkham

Professor Natasha Kirkham is a member of the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development and the Chair of Ethics in the School of Science. Her research focuses on early learning development and the environment, with a particular interest in the role of noise and home chaos on attention.

She is also a member of the Me, Human project and the SOFAR network. Her most recent publication is ‘Error detection through mouse movement in an online adaptive learning environment’ published in the Journal of Assisted Learning.

Anne Miles

Professor Anne Miles is a Professor of Health Psychology in the Department of Psychology. Professor Miles’s most recent publications include; ‘The psychological impact of food allergy and undergoing a food challenge test in adult age’ in European Annals of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2021), Predictors of distress among patients undergoing staging investigations for suspected colorectal and lung cancer’ in Psychology, Health and Medicine (2020) and ‘Predictors of patient preference for either whole body magnetic resonance imaging (WB-MRI) or CT/PET-CT for staging colorectal or lung cancer’ in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology (2020) .

Fiona Tasker

Professor Fiona Tasker’s research interests include family relationships, identity development of adults and children, and children's social and emotional development in both non-traditional and new family forms. 

Her most recent publications include: ‘Towards an understanding of the experiences of deaf gay men: an interpretative phenomenological analysis to an intersectional view’ in the Journal of Homosexuality and Psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health among LGBTQ+ young adults: a cross-cultural comparison across six nations’ in the Journal of Homosexuality 68.

Her current research projects include: ‘LGBTQ* UK COVID-19 Lockdown Researching Young Adult Experiences Vulnerability and Resilience Over Time’. Fiona Tasker commented: "In our new interview study we're really keen to hear about how LGBTQ+ people have been doing during the pandemic and what their experiences are with the easing of lockdown". More details about the project can be seen on our blog site.

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