After completing my BSc Neuroscience at King’s College London, I was interested in pursuing a more holistic view of the relationship between mind, brain and behavior, specifically in the context of learning. A lecturer at King’s recommended a Psychology Conversion course and I enrolled on Bristol’s MEd in Psychology of Education. Achieving this qualification would be a stepping stone towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist.
I chose Bristol not only because it is a lovely place with friendly faces, but because its well-established MEd program is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).
At Bristol, I gained valuable experience working with 165 children and 20 adults in London and Bristol under the supervision of Dr Tim Jay and Dr Paul Howard-Jones. I learnt how to conduct experiments and how to co-ordinate these experiments with teachers and staff at school. Most importantly, I learnt that I am really interested in research. When I decided to apply for a PhD, I received full support from all my lecturers and staff, especially my personal tutor, Dr Jo Rose.
I really enjoyed studying for my Master’s at the Graduate School of Education. My favourite modules were Brain, Mind and Education and Cognition and Learning. These modules provided me with the background for my DPhil in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford with Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh on ‘Modulating brain functions using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)’.
Developing a strong foundation in numerical cognition, neuroscience and education at Bristol has given me a unique perspective from which to develop my DPhil. In my current field of Numerical Cognition, there is a strong interest in understanding the development of mathematics learning and how we can improve it. Having the background in Neuroscience, Psychology and Education, I am in an excellent position to contribute my ideas and knowledge to designing experiments that could have an impact on improving the learning and education of future generations.
At Oxford, I started data collection in Week One. The hard work and support of my supervisor paid off when my first experiment using tDCS and a maths game, which we had developed, showed promising results for cognitive enhancement. Our work received news coverage from New Scientist, FOCUS, Nature and, more recently, Discovery Channel and National Geographic.
I have to say that I am really enjoying my research. I enjoy having a schedule filled with interesting experiments; being inspired by conversations with my supervisor and colleagues; and sharing my work with others during conferences in exciting places I have never been before! I have to admit that research can be very hectic and demanding, but knowing that I am learning something new every day, and that my work is contributing new knowledge, makes me feel a great sense of satisfaction.
I will always remember Bristol as the place where I developed my own research interests. Here, I received the full support I needed to take the first step in my academic career.
I always believe that ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ and, as my Further Maths teacher once told me, ‘do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail’.