Centre for Behavioural Science

Supporting Education

Behavioural Science Lab Assistants

Behavioural science is integrated into our education, with courses and modules on offer to undergraduates and postgraduates in a range of subjects, including business, economics, government, and psychology.

Innovative modules offering students practical experience in our Behavioural Science Lab include one on neuromarketing, which explores how people respond to marketing stimuli, and an experimental economics module which gives students a grounding in how to use our Lab.

PhD support

Not content with transforming research, our Behavioural Science Lab also plays a critical role in delivering transformational research-led education.

Opportunities to design, conduct and analyse experiments can be pivotal in the early stages of academic careers which is why we provide funding to support research students.

Each year we allocate a total of £25,000 in ‘seedcorn’ grants [link to page 4c] allowing junior researchers to conduct pilot studies which we help them scale up to attract external funding.

How ‘seedcorn’ grants have transformed PhD research

Gabriele Navyte is a student in the Department of Psychology and Institute for Social and Economic Research. She was inspired by working as a visiting carer to study how affectionate touch impacts physiological health among older adults.

Attracted by its ability to test multiple participants and collect data from several psychophysiological markers simultaneously, Gabriele used the Lab’s biometric testing equipment to study how people responded to videos of hugs.

Gabriele Navyte
“The grant, the size of the laboratory, and the iMotions software system opened up an ideal avenue for investigating whether witnessing affectionate touch could serve as a stress buffer. Using the Lab meant I was able to test over 270 paid participants in next to no time. I would recommend other PhD students to use the Lab. I mean, why wouldn't you?”
Gabriele Navyte

Natasha Brooks is a student in the Department of Economics. She used the Lab to inform two chapters of her thesis, exploring the effect that varying tangibility and ownership has on the ‘endowment effect’, which suggests we value something more when we own it.

In her experiments participants were asked to value a coffee mug. In each session they were either buyers or sellers. Using the Lab allowed Natasha to easily vary whether participants could see or hold the mug and whether they had property rights, and incorporate specialist software she needed for her experiment.

Tash Brooks
“One of the biggest issues in conducting experiments can be finding people to do it but using the Lab meant I could recruit from their large participant pool. It has enabled me to confidently conduct research. I am impressed and thankful for the Lab and its staff who are professional and efficient.”
Natasha Brooks

When and how can I apply?

Calls for funding are held twice a year, once in late summer for autumn term, and once in the autumn term for the remainder of the year.

Email us for information about funding rules and an application form

Lab assistants

As well as a dedicated Lab Manager, the Behavioural Science Lab is staffed by a team of highly-trained student lab assistants, ensuring experiments run smoothly while giving students the opportunity to cultivate the skills they need to excel.

The role of our lab assistants

Our lab assistants are at the forefront of our experimental research, trained to oversee the Lab environment and work with researchers and participants.

Duties include:

  • Experienced assistants are assigned specific areas of responsibility such as recruiting participants, troubleshooting technical problems, and acting as primary contacts for questions about biometric equipment.
  • Lab assistant study coordinators are assigned to individual researchers, working one-to-one to deliver specific experiments successfully.
  • A senior lab assistant deputises for the Lab Manager and coordinates the rest of the team.

Our dedicated student team make our Lab one of the best staffed behavioural science labs in the UK.

What our lab assistants say

Senior lab assistant Anca Sticlaru has worked in the Lab throughout her undergraduate and postgraduate study. The role has been pivotal to her Essex experience and even shaped the course of her studies, encouraging her to pursue a Masters that involved software research and technical data analytics skills.

Anca Sticlaru
“While I expected technical and soft skills working in the Lab, what surprised me was the exposure to research and data analysis. My role has taught me the value of embracing change and working with people. The most rewarding part has been supporting new lab assistants and watching the Lab grow each year, knowing I’ve been part of its success.”
Anca Sticlaru

Former lab assistant Kristina Enger is now a Senior Consultant at Deloitte, focusing on sustainable supply chains. Her time at the Lab gave her skills in data analysis, problem-solving and attention to detail which have helped shape her career:

Kristina Enger
“My time in the Lab taught me the importance of rigorous methodology and the ability to work with complex datasets, skills that are directly applicable to auditing and consulting roles.”
Kristina Enger

Former lab assistant Dragos Gruia is now doing a PhD in neuroscience at Imperial College. When he came to Essex he wanted to pursue a clinical career but working in our Lab gave him the skills and knowledge he needed to combine his interest in the clinical field with research. Today he’s using computational methods to improve outcomes for patients in the NHS that suffer from cerebrovascular disease.

Dragos Gruia
“In the Lab I worked with researchers from a wide range of backgrounds, from computer science to economics and psychology, and fell deeply in love with the field of research.It taught me how to adequately design a study, how to collect the data required for it, and what one should consider when analysing the data obtained from it.”
Dragos Gruia

Additional skills development

Each week, lab assistant stake part in weekly journal clubs where they choose a research paper to present.

Led by the Lab Manager, they learn how to critique the paper and question the statistical methods used.

As well as exposing students to a wide variety of different disciplines and studies, it helps our students develop vital critical thinking and communication skills.

If you’d like to join our student team, email us to find out how you can apply.

Close up of a lab assistant attaching electrodes to the tips of another person's fingers
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Centre for Behavioral Science
Behavioural Science Laboratory