Department of Psychology

Equality and inclusion

Promoting and celebrating equality in our department

Our department has a vibrant community of students and academic and professional service staff, working at all levels.

We achieved a Silver Departmental Athena Swan Award in October 2020, in recognition of the work we continued after receiving a Bronze Departmental Athena Swan Award in April 2017

Celebrating women in the department

We're proud of our outstanding female scientists. We'd like to celebrate them by showcasing a selection of our amazing women at different stages of their career.

Our department has over 45 academic members of staff (44% women) and over 15 members of professional services staff (64% women). We also have about 30 research students, over half of whom are women.

"I was born and raised in a small village of 7000 habitants near Padua, Italy..."

I joined the tech team as Senior Technician in 2015 providing specialist support to teaching staff and research teams. I like to think I make students’ and researchers’ lives easier, enabling them to run their studies smoothly by setting up research equipment and programming experiments. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience working in the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex. The international, open minded and friendly environment made me feel at home from day one.

I was born and raised in a small village of 7000 habitants near Padua, Italy. After a BSc in Psychobiology and MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Padua with summa cum laudem I was offered a scholarship for a PhD at the University of Verona. I came to the UK in 2009 to spend the final year of my PhD at the University of Durham where I returned to after graduation working first for the Department of Psychology and then for the Centre of Education & Development. My research entailed visual imagery, binocular rivalry and hemianopia dyslexia as examples of dissociation between visual experience and sensory stimulation.

During my studies, I had the opportunity to use a variety of methodologies and equipment such as EEG, eye-tracking, psychophysics and neuropsychological testing. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of research technologies and what they can tell us about our brains and behaviour was by far the most fun part! After a period of transition from academic to professional work I (finally!) found a career that gave me the opportunity to apply practical techniques to Psychology as well as maintaining a good work life balance. Outside work I love crafting including felting, moulding clay and cross stitching.

"In my free time, I like to travel and explore the history and culture of new places..."

I have been a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex since July 2017. Before that, I completed a PhD in Social-Personality at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, USA, and BA at the University of Waterloo, in my home country of Canada, where I double majored in Business and Psychology. I have also worked a Research Analyst in education policy for the Government of Canada, and as a Research Advisor for a public opinion and market research firm in Canada.

Ever since I was a teenager, I have been interested in understanding why some people stay in "bad" relationships, and how others keep the "good" relationships from falling apart. This fascination now makes up the heart of my program of research, where I study how people cope with vulnerability and uncertainty in their romantic relationships and maintain them overtime.

I am especially interested in better understanding the individual differences that influence these processes within relationships, the external sources of vulnerability that motivate us to turn to our relationships in times of need, and the consequences these processes might have for interpersonal issues like sexuality, consent and sexual assault. If you want to learn more about the ins-and-outs of relationships, consider taking my module PS511-What's Love Got To Do With It? Understanding Romantic Relationships.

I love working in such a vibrant and diverse department with so many staff and students from around the world. In my free time, I like to travel and explore the history and culture of new places, enjoy hiking and wandering in the outdoors, and have recently taken up pottery.

"I want to make our science more open and accessible to other researchers, students, and laypeople outside of psychology..."

I first came to the department in 2015 after having spent three years in Switzerland as a postdoctoral fellow. Before that, I trained in my native USA as an undergraduate at Loyola Marymount University and a postgraduate at Colorado State University.

I was first drawn to psychology because I was interested in a clinical career, but I changed paths after my first experiences of research as an undergraduate working on an intervention for kindergartners who were at risk for literacy problems. That turning point still motivates me today to encourage students to open their minds to all different career options that psychology allows and to foster the same kinds of opportunities for students to get involved in research that my mentors have given to me.

Although I started in research with kids, my work now investigates the other side of development. I am interested in how memory and complex cognition functions across the adult lifespan: The underlying mechanisms that support our memory from moment-to-moment, how these mechanisms change with age, and if there is anything that we can do about it.

Since joining the department, I have followed several of my passions, which generally fall under the umbrella of open scholarship. I want to make our science more open and accessible to other researchers, students, and laypeople outside of psychology. I do this in a number of ways: First, I lead the recruitment events team to give prospective students a taste of what psychology at university is like, especially by making them feel like they too can be psychological scientists. I also am involved in the Open Science Working Group at Essex to facilitate others getting involved in open science, no matter what their prior experience with it is. Finally, I am passionate about science reaching beyond academia in the way of science communication and work with groups outside of the university. I have given over 20 public community talks and work with a fantastic charity, Age Concern Colchester, to ensure that the very relevant work we do in psychology reaches those who stand to benefit the most.

When I am not busy at work, I love travelling all over the world, outdoor activities like hiking and climbing/bouldering, and hibernating at home with some Netflix and delicious snacks at hand!

"I have been a semi-professional flamenco dancer for a number of years..."

I joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex in June 2019. My research interests span topics including affective processing, embodiment and perception of the body from outside and from within. I tackle complex questions of social neuroscience such as:

  • How the sensory and motor information coming from outside and from within the body influences our social behaviour?
  • How these sensory bodily signals integrate with exteroceptive information in the brain?
  • Can cortical stimulation on sensorimotor and interoceptive areas be used to facilitate decisions and social behaviour?

My research profile and experience has built upon international training and collaborations across research institutions in the UK and Europe.

I completed my BSc (First Class hons) in Psychology, my MSc in Psychobiology (Distinction on dissertation) and my PhD (Distinction Cum Laude) in electrophysiology of emotion and language processing at the University Complutense of Madrid, Spain. During my doctoral training, I was awarded two visiting fellowships. The DAAD fellowship to Humboldt University Berlin, and the Spanish Research Council fellowship to City University London. I then moved to my first postdoctoral post at Royal Holloway University, before being awarded my own personal research grant to work at the University of Oxford, where I spent three years.

In addition to my research and teaching in the Department, I am a full-time mum and wife. I have been a semi-professional flamenco dancer for a number of years, I am a gym enthusiast, and I love ice-cream.

"I enjoy working with students and enjoy watching them engage with a topic that they previously struggled with..."

I am a second year PhD student in the Psychology department (I started my PhD in 2017). Before my doctoral degree, I studied two bachelor degrees in Psychology in The Netherlands, as well as a master’s degree in Research Methods in Edinburgh. However, I have been interested in Psychology long before that, ever since my early teens.

During my first undergraduate degree, I realised I wanted to continue into research. I was specifically interested in two topics: risk and older age. I had worked with older adults during high school and my undergraduate degrees and wanted my work to benefit this specific group of individuals. As I was doing my master’s degree in Edinburgh, I received an e-mail with funded PhD positions in the country. One of them was with my current supervisor, Dr Jonathan Rolison, on risky decision-making and older adults; the perfect fit.

I now study age differences between younger and older adults in risk-taking behaviour: how these groups differ from one another, and whether that difference is due to differences in attitudes towards risk or decision-quality. I find this topic incredibly interesting and I get to work with people within and outside of the university environment. I have presented my work at local conferences as well as international conferences, and I have taken part in the Three Minute Thesis competition. I am also a Graduate Laboratory Assistant, which means I assist in teaching undergraduate students. I enjoy working with students and enjoy watching them engage with a topic that they previously struggled with.

After I finish my degree, I would like to stay in academia, and become a researcher/lecturer. I would be open to working in the UK as well as somewhere else. Part of working in academia is the opportunity to move for your work and seeing more of the world, which I am looking forward to.

When I am not working, I spend my time going on hikes, cooking, gardening, reading and snuggling up with my cat.

Two female students are sitting at a computer in a PC lab, with the student one the left leaning to the right slightly to get a better view of the screen.
Meet the Psychologists

Scientists in the Department of Psychology come from a wide range of backgrounds and countries. Read our stories to find out more about what led us to psychology, what we would love to change about science, and what we do on a typical work day!

Read the stories

Diversity and Inclusion Working Group

The Department of Psychology is committed to celebrating its diversity and creating an inclusive community. The Diversity and Inclusion Working Group in the Department of Psychology is dedicated to identifying how we can draw from the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our staff and students, and support changes that improve our understanding of our place in the world. At Essex, we are Rebels with a Cause, and changing the world starts with us.

We host different events throughout the academic year to hear new perspectives and support departmental activities. Recent events include workshops for staff on inclusive teaching and focus groups with students.

If you would like to make a suggestion regarding diversity and inclusion within the department you can submit your ideas through our Qualtrics form.

You can also reach out to the group by emailing

Resources and support for staff

There are a wide range of opportunities, resources and support networks available for our staff, both within and outside our University.

Mentoring policy

The Department has a mentoring policy to support its academic staff. A senior member of staff is assigned as a mentor or probationary supervisor to all new academic staff.

For research active staff, the mentor provides advice on what is worth doing and when, where and how to network, how to develop a career plan, explaining promotion criteria and how to develop a profile within a discipline. The academic staffing officer can also advise on issues related to probation and promotion.

For new staff, an induction event is held by HR and the department.

Departmental events and meetings

Formal staff meetings are held once or twice a month. Every Tuesday (at 1pm or at 4pm in different weeks) in term time, there is a research seminar to which all academic staff and research students are invited, followed by a social event with the speaker.

Once a month (on different days), there is a Women in Psychology lunch, an Athena SWAN open lunch (where the SWAN leads invite open discussions on equality and inclusivity), and a social tea-and-cake event for all academic staff and research students.

Resources and support for students

We understand that some of our students may have different access needs or may need additional support while studying with us.

Our Student Directory includes articles about how we support our students, and how we ensure our campuses are accessible to all. If you have any questions you can also contact our Colchester Student Services Hub, who are happy to answer queries and provide signposting to our range of services.