People

People

Dr Danijela Serbic  – THESIS Founder & Director 

I am a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. I established THESIS in 2017; it was the first teaching-focused group in the Department of Psychology and the first department-based teaching group in Royal Holloway. I am a Chartered Psychologist, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a recipient of several teaching prizes.  I am involved in course coordination, teaching and assessment of health psychology and psychological research methods and analysis courses. I also coordinate Final Year Research Projects and supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate research projects and dissertations. My research expertise is in psychology of chronic pain, with a specific focus on the impact of diagnostic uncertainty on clinical outcomes, such as depression, anxiety and disability in chronic pain patients. I am particularly interested in pedagogic research, and my recent and current research projects have primarily focused on student health and well-being.


Professor Victoria Bourne – THESIS ‘Staff Support and Careers in Education’ coordinator 

I am a teaching focused academic, and my teaching is primarily around the methods and statistics used in psychological research. I am passionate about engaging students in creating their own research projects, and I work with other academics from across the UK to help develop accessible and fun approaches to teaching. In 2017 I published Starting Out in Methods and Statistics for Psychology: A Hands-on Guide to Doing Research, a textbook aimed at first year undergraduate students. My pedagogic research focuses on the statistics anxiety that many psychology students experience, particularly considering the potential causal factors of anxiety and the interventions that may help to alleviate anxiety. I am a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Psychologist.


Dr Ines Mendes – THESIS ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing’ coordinator

I am a teaching-focused lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, and I am also an accredited Clinical Psychologist with 10 years of clinical practice.
I teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels around Mental health and Clinical Psychology. I also supervise UG and Master research projects in the field of Clinical Psychology. I coordinate two modules, a Y1 module on Understanding Wellbeing and Mental Health, and MSc module on Professional Clinical Practice and Skills. My research interests concern mental health in university students in the UK with the aim to promote wellbeing and build emotional resilience. The main key areas of interest are understanding the risk and protective factors in the development of mental health difficulties in university students: self-criticism, self-compassion, resilience, and experiential avoidance.


Dr Nuno Nodin – THESIS ‘Beyond Undergraduate Education’ coordinator

I am a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. I teach across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, mostly in the areas of Clinical Psychology and Developmental Psychology. I also supervise undergraduate and master’s research projects in topics related to LGBT+ mental health and online dating, among others. I am a chartered Trainer by the Portuguese Scientific-Pedagogical Council for Continuous Training and have delivered over 800 hours of training to a range of audiences, both lay and professional, on topics of my expertise. My research interests are broadly focused on sexual behaviour, identity and minorities. My most recent research is on the mental health risk and resilience of sexual minorities (LGBT+). Additionally I have an interest in the psychological and behavioural impact of new communication technologies, particularly of online dating and sexual networking.


Dr Sam Fairlamb – THESIS ‘Pedagogic Seminars’ coordinator

I am a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I teach and supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate students, and I am also the course co-ordinator of the Y1 module Understanding Individuals and Groups and the Y3 module The Psychology of Love, Death and Meaning. My research interests concern how human behaviour can be explained by the result of uniquely human existential concerns, and how these ideas can be applied to explain a variety of human phenomena, including why humans struggle to peacefully co-exist. I am also interested in how existential concerns and feelings of self-worth impact student engagement, learning and well-being in higher education. I also run a YouTube channel called The Psychology Debrief which is for current, and prospective, students studying Psychology in Higher Education. The channel covers Psychological-related podcast discussions, as well as tips for students to improve their academic skills. You can follow me on twitter @thepsychdebrief


Dr Luke Kendrick – THESIS ‘Preparing for Higher Education’ coordinator

I am a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London. I completed my PhD in 2018 which investigated the nature of cognitive impairment in post-stroke aphasia (language impairment after stroke). I teach across several modules at Royal Holloway, lecturing on research methods, statistics, personality and individual differences, and brain injury. I also supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate research projects. My current research interests cover factors that impact students’ learning and education, including mental health, well-being, and procrastination behaviour.

 


Dr Ilham Sebah – THESIS ‘Equality and Diversity’ coordinator

I am a psychologist and teaching fellow at Royal Holloway. My research specialism is in the field of resilience and I hold a PhD in Psychology and an MSc in Clinical Neuroscience. My doctoral research included developing a resilience intervention for students in Higher Education (The Resilience Enhancement Programme) and my postdoctoral fellowship extended this research into the medical field, where I worked alongside junior doctors, consultants and GPs. My experience and expertise in resilience has led to contributions in both the public and private sectors, including publications, science communication and consultancy. I am also engaged in a number of outreach projects and I am passionate about sharing knowledge and making science accessible. I am a founding member of the SOFAR Network (Supporting Outstanding Female Academic Researchers) and the ‘Me, Human’ team based at Birkbeck, University of London. Outside of academia, I am a speaker and presenter, having spoken on platforms including TEDx, House of Commons, Google and Soapbox Science.


Dr Sam McCormick – THESIS ‘Academic Skills’ coordinator

I joined Royal Holloway as a teaching-focused lecturer in 2019. I have taught across a wide range of cognitive and developmental areas in previous roles but am primarily involved in teaching study skills and second-year individual differences at Royal Holloway. My teaching and research interests focus on reading and vocabulary acquisition and development in an undergraduate population. I am developing a project examining the impact that baseline reading and vocabulary knowledge has on student learning with colleagues at the Universities of Surrey, Roehampton, Reading and Canterbury Christ Church. I’m interested in e-learning and curriculum design and am an External Examiner at the University of Hertfordshire and Staffordshire University. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Experimental Psychology Society.


Dr Dee Birtles 

I am a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. I currently teach on the first-year undergraduate statistics course and supervise undergraduate and postgraduate research projects and dissertations. My research interests are focussed on lifespan development and range from wellbeing and functioning in older adults and neurodiverse individuals, to cognitive, motor, and emotional development in children. I help organise Schools Outreach initiatives to promote widening participation in Higher Education. I also have an interest in developing effective and innovative ways of developing students’ authorial identity linked to my role as a member of the Department’s Academic Misconduct Panel. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

 


Dr Beatrice Hayes

I am a Postdoctoral Teaching Associate within the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. I recently completed my PhD in Psychology where I explored primary school children’s use of social networking sites as well as their perceptions of the risks and benefits and how these were associated with their online behaviours; I also explored parents’ and teachers’ mediation of children’s social networking site use. Overall, I am interested in children and adolescents’ use of online technology and how this is associated with social and emotional wellbeing and long-term mental health outcomes. Within a higher education context, I am interested in how students and staff engage with online technology and to what extent this can benefit learning, wellbeing and mental health. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the RAISE (Researching Advising and Inspiring Student Engagement) Network, a member of the British Psychological Society Developmental and Cyberpsychology divisions and a member of the European Association for Developmental Psychology.

 


Gaia Giampietro

I am a first year PhD student within the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, supervised by Dr Nicholas Furl and Dr Thora Bjornsdottir. Prior to starting my PhD, I completed a BSc in Psychology at the University of Westminster, and an MSc in Forensic Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. My current PhD research is a direct continuation of my MSc dissertation, seeking to investigate the impact of the caricature technique upon face recognition in forensic lineups. I am currently part of the teaching team on the second year undergraduate Psychological Research Methods & Analysis course. I am moreover a volunteer researcher for Hammersley Homes, a charity working to build long-term supported housing for adults experiencing enduring mental illness.


Adam Levent

I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychological Science at Birkbeck University of London and work as a teaching associate at Royal Holloway, University of London. I deliver practical classes and workshops in statistics. My research focuses on the possible consequence of recreational drug use on cognitive abilities, including executive functions, retrospective and prospective memory. Previously, I worked as a research assistant on various projects, such as the study of elder financial abuse and the study of cognition, adolescents and mobile phones (SCAMP).

 

 


THESIS Editors

Elise Gear – Senior Editor 

I am a college funded PhD student, supervised by Dr. Lyn Ellett (Southampton), Dr. Jessica Kingston and Dr. Szonya Durant. I am a former Clinical Psychology (MSc) and Clinical Psychology and Mental Health (BSc) student within the Psychology Department, here at Royal Holloway. In July 2019 I was very grateful to have been awarded the Royal Holloway, Bedford New College Trust Scholarship for postgraduate taught students. I am also part of the teaching team on the second year undergraduate research methods and statistics course, PS2010 where I assist students in my role as a workshop demonstrator. My current PhD research seeks to develop behavioural indices of nonclinical paranoia, through virtual reality technology. I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the British Psychological Society. Alongside my studies and teaching commitments I work as both a Specialist Mental Health Mentor and a Crisis Support Worker.


Ryan Jefferies

I am a Teaching Associate in the Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London. I teach first year students on the undergraduate research methods and statistics course. During the students’ weekly Workshops and a dedicated Drop-In Hour I offer guidance, and in my position as presenter of their Friday Lab Seminars I encourage open discussion and debate. I completed my MSc in 2020 which investigated the role that emotional vulnerability and perceived cognitive impact play in a cognitive training intervention for high worriers.

 


Dr Louisa Thomas, University of Reading

I completed my PhD in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2021, and my BSc in 2016. During my PhD, I was part of the teaching team for a second-year undergraduate research methods and statistics course. I’ve also delivered two MSc lectures on the neuroscience of emotion at Royal Holloway since completing my PhD. I am currently working as a postdoctoral research assistant in the Centre for Autism at the University of Reading. Here, I am exploring sensory processing in autistic and non-autistic children using behavioural tasks and computational modelling. My PhD research focused on using a Bayesian computational approach to explore individual differences in reward processing and contagion of value preferences, with a focus on autism. I used a combination of behavioural (in-person and online) and neuroimaging studies. I am autistic, and I have ADHD, and I am passionate about increasing awareness of neurodiversity and improving the extent to which autistic people are involved in research about autism. Outside of my research, I am also the current host of the PsychologiCALL podcast, in which I chat to a researcher every week about one of their papers around the topics of development and neurodiversity. These episodes are great way to learn about research, without doing lots of extra reading!


Former members 

Dr Alana James, University of Reading 
I am a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Senior Tutor for the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading, with interests in social-development and educational psychology. My research includes a focus upon student welfare and supporting the transition from school to university. I have recently evaluated the effectiveness of specialist mentoring for university students with autism and/or mental health conditions. I was previously a Senior Lecturer at Royal Holloway where I was a member of the Student Support and Welfare Committee, and working groups to revise the Student Charter, the Personal Tutoring system, and harassment support procedures. I am a member of the BPS Undergraduate Education Committee and on the Advisory Board for the Students Against Depression website. I supervise undergraduate and postgraduate projects related to bullying/harassment and mental health in schools and  universities, and DClin research into parenting and parenting interventions.


Dr Eilidh Cage

I am a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sterling.  My research focuses on the experiences of autistic people, considering a range of topics including reputation, identity, mental health and autism acceptance. I am also interested in how universities can support autistic students and those with mental health difficulties. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

 

 


Dr Jasmine Virhia

I am a PhD candidate within the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. Using fMRI my research investigates the neural underpinnings and processes associated with verbal serial short-term memory. Here, studies focus on reconceptualising, in perceptual-motor terms, phenomena that have typically been seen as indicative of a dedicated phonological short-term store. Alongside my research I am involved in teaching first year psychology seminars, covering a broad range of topics as well as projects in the department supporting equality and diversity within science, most notably the Women in Science Database. Prior to joining Royal Holloway I completed an MSc in Language Sciences: Linguistics and Neuroscience at University College London and a BA in English Literature and Linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London.