People

People

Dr Danijela Serbic  – THESIS Founder & Director, Co-lead for ‘Staff Support’

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 Group lead for ‘Staff Support’

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 Dee Birtles – THESIS Group lead for ‘Academic support’

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 Sahana Shankar – THESIS Co-lead for ‘Academic Support’

I am Postdoctoral Teaching Associate within the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. I recently completed my PhD in Psychology where I examined mechanisms of false belief formation, primarily in relation to medical contexts. I also explored the role prior belief and affect plays in the formation of beliefs. Overall, I am interested in false belief formation due to the negative impact beliefs such as vaccine hesitancy may have on population health. I teach across several modules at Royal Holloway, lecturing on modules such as Personality and Individual Differences. I also supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate research projects. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a postgraduate member of the Experimental Psychology Society.


Dr Beatrice Hayes – THESIS Group lead for ‘Outreach and External Engagement’

I am a Teaching Fellow within the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. I teach theoretical, applied and research methods topics across undergraduate and postgraduate Psychology modules. I am passionate about making higher education learning fun, engaging and accessible to students. I am also passionate about students’ wellbeing throughout the transition to university and across their university experience. My pedagogical research focuses on online communication between students and staff within a higher education setting. I am particularly interested in the link between students’ online self-disclosure and their mental health and wellbeing. My pedagogic research also explores how staff communciate online with students and the impact this may have upon student engagement and learning. I am also interested in co-production within a research and applied context. I completed my PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London where I explore primary school children’s use of social networking sites and the link between this use and their mental health and wellbeing.


Dr Isabella Vainieri  – THESIS Co-lead for ‘Outreach and External Engagement’

I am a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. I have a background in Psychology and Neuroscience, and I completed my PhD in Developmental Psychiatry at King’s College London in 2021. My PhD focused on investigating genetic, cognitive, and neurophysiological markers of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). After my PhD, I worked across different institutions in a combination of research and teaching activities. I joined RHUL in September 2023. I teach across different modules mostly related to Neuroscience and Developmental Psychology. I supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate research projects and I am involved in personal tutoring. My research interests include understanding childhood predictors of life satisfaction, and psychological and cognitive outcomes. I am also interested in understanding how students learn, specifically neuroscience, and in applying new teaching strategies to help students engage with the subject. 


Dr James Ravenhill – THESIS Group lead for ‘Wellbeing and EDI & Lead for Pedagogic Seminars’

I am a teaching-focused Psychology Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London. A qualified post-16 teacher (PGCE; Institute of Education, University of London), I started my career as a teacher and examiner of Psychology at GCSE, A-Level, and International Baccalaureate, before undertaking a PhD and moving to university lecturing. My research focus is in sexualities, encompassing young men’s masculinities, gay masculinities, sexual self-labelling by gay men, bisexualities, sexual health and wellbeing, and intimate relationality in secure mental healthcare. A critical psychologist with a background of teaching across undergraduate and postgraduate modules in gender and sexuality, forensic psychology, addiction, and qualitative methods, I am particularly interested in how critical perspectives can be employed for pedagogical purposes, to enrich student engagement by encouraging reflexivity on “taken for granted” knowledge. A key concept that enables this reflexivity is “epistemic injustice”, or put simply, inequalities in who has the power to “produce” knowledge, and how and why certain “knowledges” are privileged while others are marginalised and silenced. Utilising in-class activities and assessments that encourage reflexivity, I aim to facilitate more critical approaches to studying Psychology, including considering the role of Psychology as a discipline in reproducing epistemic injustice, and other inequalities.


Dr Aysha Bellamy- THESIS co-lead for Wellbeing and EDI

Hello! My name is Aysha Bellamy and I am a postdoctoral teaching associate here at Royal Holloway. I recently completed my PhD in the same institution, which focused on both the evolutionary and social factors that shape the way we make certain asocial and social decisions. I have always taught statistics alongside my PhD and have enjoyed making difficult concepts more accessible and engaging to teach to our students. I now focus on (i) introducing more evolutionary psych and gene-culture coevolution content to my lectures here at RHUL and (ii) investigating the factors that may make teaching delivery more engaging for our neurodiverse students. I consider neurodiversity across the board but have a special interest in development coordination disorder (DCD), or dyspraxia. My research into neurodiverse perspectives in Higher Education has inspired me to co-lead the Wellbeing & EDI section of our THESIS group, alongside the wonderful Dr James Ravenhill. If you want to become involved with any of our Wellbeing or EDI initiatives, or are interested in my research topics, then please feel free to reach out to me!


Gaia Giampietro – THESIS Blog coordinator 

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.


Dr Vanita Chamdal

I am a Postdoctoral Teaching Associate within the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. I am a qualified counsellor with 10 years of experience and have my own clinical practise. My research has examined work-related stress among genetic counsellors, trauma faced by healthcare professionals and failing public sector organisations. My research has examined the concepts of burnout, compassion fatigue and psychological wellbeing. I teach across several modules at Royal Holloway University including mental health and wellbeing, adult psychopathology, clinical assessment and treatment approaches and more. My key interests are in student mental health and wellbeing where I supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate research projects. 


Dr Nuno Nodin

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

I am a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, and a Senior 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 includes content for learning psychological concepts, academic skills and essay writing tips, and careers in psychology. You can follow me on twitter (@thepsychdebrief) or instagram (@thepsychologydebrief).


Dr Luke Kendrick

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 Sam McCormick

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 Adnan Levent

I am a Postdoctoral Teaching Associate in the Department of Psychological Science 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).


Dr Juliet Holdstock

I am a teaching-focused academic in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway. I have had a career in both teaching and research, with my research exploring the brain systems underlying memory, primarily through studies of patients with amnesia, and the effects of aging on eyewitness memory. In previous teaching positions, I have taught across a range of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level primarily in the areas of neuropsychology, biological psychology, memory, and research methods and statistics. At Royal Holloway, I teach within the areas of developmental psychology, aging and memory, and research methods at undergraduate level, and in the area of forensic psychology (eyewitness testimony) at master’s level. I also supervise undergraduate and master’s research projects on memory and learning, including forensically oriented projects on eyewitness memory. I enjoy teaching and inspiring others to learn and, in my current position, I am keen to develop pedagogic research drawing on my memory research background investigating ways to facilitate learning within a university setting.


Dr Ciara O’Brien

I am a Postdoctoral Teaching Associate in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. My research focuses on lifestyle behaviour change for health and wellbeing in clinical and non-clinical populations (for example, people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, children and young people with physical disabilities, and older adults), using both quantitative and qualitative research methods. I am particularly interested in the measurement, determinants, and health and wellbeing outcomes of sedentary behaviour and physical activity (movement behaviours) in these populations. My research has led to numerous contributions in academia, including publications and conference presentations, where I have been a recipient of awards. I have also organised, and been invited to talk at, public engagement events in this research field. I teach and supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate students, mostly in areas related to Health Psychology. I am passionate about creating learning environments that promote competence, autonomy and relatedness among students. I am keen to extend my research in movement behaviours to a pedagogical context, investigating the impact of “moving more” on student engagement, learning and wellbeing.


Dr Natasha Baxter

I have a wide range of research interests, from the roles of inequalities and diversity in teaching and learning, to multi-disciplinary approaches to clinical and cognitive Psychology. I studied my undergraduate degree in Psychology at Brunel University London, moving to do my Master’s and PhD at the University of York, which I recently concluded before joining RHUL.  


Dr Matthew Talbot

I am a Postdoctoral Teaching Associate in the department. My research interests involve training students to prevent burglary, and helping students with exam anxiety – areas in which I regularly supervise student research. More long-term pedagogic interests include developing new ways to structure undergraduate final year projects in line with open science frameworks, and contributing to the continued growth of equality, diversity and inclusion schemes in the department.


Dr Rebecca Lucas

I am a Postdoctoral Teaching Associate within the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London and I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  I teach Developmental Psychology and supervise undergraduate research projects within this field.  My PhD research examined the literacy and language development of autistic children and those with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), and since then I have supervised PhD research on this topic.  Within the field of Higher Education, I am interested in factors that influence the experience of autistic students and those with mental health conditions. Correspondingly I have published research on the experience of the transition into university, time during university and the transition out of university.  This has taken a first-person approach considering the perspectives of the students.  Now we are exploring the views of support staff to enable examination of the synchronicity of perspectives.


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 lab tutor. My 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 – Senior Editor

I am an SeNSS funded PhD student and Teaching Associate in the Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London. I teach second year students on the undergraduate research methods and statistics course. During the students’ weekly Lab Seminars I supervise their group-coordinated lab reports and encourage open class discussion and debate. I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and I am currently part of a student and staff run project working on making the RHUL Psychology curriculum more diverse and inclusive. My PhD project is looking at situation awareness during the remote operation of ground-based vehicles, in collaboration with TRL and Omnidrome at RHUL.


James Green – Content Assistant

I am a second-year undergraduate student currently enrolled in the Psychology (MSc) course in Royal Holloway, University of London. I work as a as a volunteer research assistant under Professor Ryan Mckay, studying the effects of how inducing feelings of determinism can lead to changes in one’s moral behaviour and attributions. 


Former members 

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 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 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!


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.