What is your area of expertise?

Cognitive Neuroscience

What do you think makes Essex a unique place to work?

At Essex we have the latest state-of-the-arts research facilities for the study of the human brain and behaviour. Such facilities are housed in the Centre for Brain Sciences (CBS), Department of Psychology (in which > £178k has been invested), and they are fully accessible to all researchers in the Department. The CBS benefits from a dedicated team of expert technicians that are able to support research projects via helping with experimental setup, technical training, and maintenance and troubleshooting of the equipment.

As a woman in STEM, how has working at Essex supported your career/research?

I feel very privilege to work in an environment where female colleagues are appreciated and supported. The Department of Psychology at Essex has recently won the Athena Swan Silver Award in recognition for our continuous efforts to support woman in academia. For example, I was given reduced workload in my teaching and admin duties on my return from maternity leave. Also, relevant departmental meetings are scheduled outside school holiday periods ensuring that everyone can attend the meetings. These and many other equality arrangements have facilitated the development of my research and academic career at Essex.

Describe a project you’ve been involved in that you are particularly proud of.

Me and the wonderful team of researchers working by my side are currently developing new brain stimulation techniques to ameliorate the decline in motor skills that naturally occur with healthy ageing. As people grow older, they experience a decline in motor abilities, particularly they have difficulties in inhibiting, stopping or interrupting a course of action that has already been started. For example, imagine a person who has the goal to cross the road and is focused on pursuing this goal. If an errant cyclist suddenly veered into their path, they need to rapidly change their goal and stop walking. Failure to do so might incur serious risk of injury. Changes in response inhibition are an important reason why otherwise-healthy older people may lose independence. Using neuroscientific techniques such as non-invasive brain stimulation and electroencephalography, we are currently developing new approaches to further understand the effects of healthy ageing on motor decline. We hope to be able to identify people at risk of losing response inhibition and develop interventions with non-invasive brain stimulation to alleviate age related decline.

This research project has received funding support from a number of research grants, including the prestigious Springboard Award from the Academy of Medical Sciences.

How important do you think it is for a STEM employer to encourage more women into the discipline?

It is vital that STEM employers encourage and support more women into the disciple. Abundant evidence shows that men and women have different approaches to solving complex problems. We need more women in STEM to further innovation and better representations of the societal needs. Women bring important knowledge, skills and ideas to the workplace, and companies should foster gender equality and diversity in their hiring practices.