PsyPAG Award winners

In the 2019 Awards round we had a huge number of applications across our four Award categories. Each individual application was of high-quality and made for a very difficult task for our judges. So much so that although we could only pick one winner for each category, we have chosen to acknowledge and celebrate some of the other fantastic individuals who are doing incredible work in research and teaching. Find more information on each of our exceptional Award winners and runners-up below. 

Undergraduate Prize Winner

Navya Sharan

Navya Sharan is currently a final-year BSc (Hons) Psychology student at University College London (UCL), UK and will graduate in July 2019. In the next academic year, she plans to pursue a post-graduate degree in human-computer interaction. She is the co-founder of UCL Connect.ed, a student research community promoting interdisciplinary research. Her research interests include human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive engineering, and the interaction of psychology and technology in urban contexts. Her previous projects include learning through serious games and the influence of individual differences and navigation strategies on navigation performance. 


This research investigated the extent to which people trust advice from humans or AI in a decision-making task; and the effect of individual (age, gender, culture, and occupation) and personality characteristics (Big Five traits and Locus of Control (LOC)) on trust and suggestion use. Participants decided whether the final covered card, in a card sequence, had a higher/lower number than the second-last card. They either received no suggestion (control), suggestions from what they were told were previous participants or AI. Response time, concordance (number of participants’ responses that were the same as the suggestion), and self-reported trust ratings were measured. Participants trusted AI more than humans, and an effect of age, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and LOC was observed. Results indicate that personality overrides any external influence on trust, and affects the way people select whom they trust (AI or humans). Findings could be applied to develop more personalised, trustworthy systems

Undergraduate Prize Runners-Ups

Laura Matthews

Laura’s dissertation research aimed to identify possible factors that may be contributing to the sleeping difficulties often reported by midlife women. More specifically, menopausal status, vasomotor symptoms, psychological health symptoms and health behaviours were examined as predictors of subjective sleep quality. Data was collected using an online questionnaire that comprised of both standardised questionnaires and measures that I had devised myself for the purpose of the research. An overwhelming 428 women (aged 40-60years) responded. It was found that specific factors made significant contributions to the poor sleep quality described by midlife women. This study extended upon previous work by examining the effect bothersome vasomotor symptoms (relative to their presence), anxiety symptoms and health behaviours.

Laura Matthews

Laura is from the department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development at Oxford Brookes University


Anna W.

Anna Wiedemann

Anna graduated with a first-class degree in psychology from the University of Aberdeen this summer. Her undergraduate thesis examined the association of the co-existence of multiple chronic conditions, referred to as multi-morbidity, and dementia in older old age. Anna’s project drew on a rare resource of existing data already collected from almost three decades’ research with the Cambridge City over-75s Cohort (CC75C), a representative population-based study of over 2,000 men and women enrolled through general practice and followed-up until the last participant had died in 2013. Anna has previously been involved with the CC75C research group as an Amgen Scholar at the University of Cambridge focusing on investigating the relationship between multi-morbidity and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Masters prize winner

Ellen Ridley

A sensitive measure of social interaction styles and social vulnerability in developmental disorders – moving beyond the constraints of the Social Responsiveness Scale 2”

Background: For individuals following an atypical developmental trajectory, many elements of social expertise are likely to develop in an atypical manner, which may impact upon social vulnerability (Jawaid et al., 2012). The Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS 2; Constantino & Gruber, 2002) is the most widely used, standardised measure of social functioning, yet evidence suggests it lacks specificity in capturing subtle social differences between developmental groups.

Aim: My research aimed to probe social interactions in greater detail than the SRS-2, and provide sufficient specificity to understand social skills that transcend diagnostic boundaries, as well as those more syndrome-specific. I aimed to capture i) the (a)typicality of social interactions with peers versus adults, and ii) evidence of social vulnerability within social profiles. 

Method: We developed a new parental-report measure (based upon the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders; Wing et al., 2002) focusing on social functioning, social interactions with peers and adults, and social vulnerability. Questionnaire data was collected from 94 parents of children with developmental disorders known to impact upon social skills; Autism, Williams syndrome, and ADHD. 

Key findings: Social atypicalities may vary depending on who the child is interacting with, but this pattern may be syndrome-specific. All groups showed heightened social vulnerability compared to an existing ‘typically developing’ sample, indicating elevated social vulnerability transcending diagnostic label (irrespective of learning disability). These data emphasise the importance of capturing social skills accurately and the potential consequence of atypical social functioning.

Masters Prize Runners-Ups

Catherine Naughtie

Cartherine’s dissertation was the first study to examine the effect of multi-modal information presentation on situation awareness (SA). It hypothesised that multi-modal processing causes increases in mental workload that would result in changes in SA, and that higher trait sensitivity to sensory stimuli (SPS) would amplify this effect. The results of an 87-participant web-based fireground simulation showed statistically significant differences between visual and audio-visual conditions, though there was no statistically significant effect of SPS as a grouping variable. These findings demonstrate the importance of information delivery style in defining the dynamics of SA and decision-making in high pressure situations.

Holly Burton

This research examined gender differences in the first impressions of autistic adults. Non-autistic observers (= 205) viewed and socially evaluated either 10-second video clips or text transcripts in the context of a mock job interview completed by ten autistic males and ten autistic females, matched to ten non-autistic males and ten non-autistic females. Observers were blind to diagnosis. The findings showed that autistic females were judged more favourably than autistic males, however, both autistic males and females were rated less favourably than non-autistic females and males. These findings have important implications for autistic adults seeking employment and diagnostic services.

Dannii Jarvis

The aim of Dannii’s research was to explore the experiences of category D prisoners in open conditions and their experiences of the Pathways Enhanced Resettlement Service (PERS), a pilot Offender Personality Disorder (OPD) pathway service. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 service users and analysed thematically. Participants described the challenges they faced in open conditions and the benefits of engaging with PERS. Participants most valued relationships with staff, however pitfalls of the service were highlighted. Nevertheless, the overall findings were supportive of the pilot service and are consistent with other research findings on the OPD pathway. 

The Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers in Psychology prize winner

Ashleigh Johnstone

Bangor University’s School of Psychology has a built-in teacher training programme for its PhD students, and I have tried to fully embrace this opportunity to gain experience teaching small groups, observing experienced teachers, and providing feedback to students. On top of this, I have provided marking support for several additional modules, given a guest lecture, designed a seminar to be delivered to all first-year psychology undergrads, and co- developed a professional development seminar for my peers. I don’t think there is anything better than helping a student with something they struggle with and seeing that moment when it all clicks into place, or helping a student with anxiety feel comfortable enough to put their hand up in class and participate in a discussion. During my classes I aim to inspire and support student learning by putting students at ease with a positive and upbeat attitude that fosters a ‘safe space’ environment. For example, one module I have taught on includes a large presentation and participation component, which can cause anxiety in some students. Despite this being a large class (between 40-60 students), I have tried to learn the names of as many students as I can. Getting to know each student has enabled me to create connections and also assess which students may need a little bit of extra support. I think seeing a student develop confidence in their own ability is what makes teaching worth it – there are so many capable students who could reach their full potential if we could find the best way to support them as an individual, and this is what drives me to be the best teacher I can be. I am honoured to have been awarded the PsyPAG/DART-P Teaching Award, and I’m truly grateful to the staff and students who supported my nomination.

Ashleigh is a PhD Student at Bangor University.
Twitter: @_ajohnstone

The Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers in Psychology prize Runners-Ups

Elizabeth Collins 1

Elizabeth is a PhD Student at the University of Stirling.

Twitter: @Lizzie_Psych

Elizabeth Collins

I have been teaching since my undergraduate years, where I began tutoring my peers in statistics  during our dissertations. This progressed quickly to a teaching assistant role, which included creating new content and making decisions about new courses for undergraduates and postgraduates. I recently published a book and I now teach alongside working on my PhD. My latest role is developing statistics material for each undergraduate psychology module at Stirling University. Watching students go from anxious to interested to proud as they tackle quantitative statistics is an incredibly rewarding experience that I love being a part of.

Leanne Rowlands

Alongside my PhD at Bangor University I have been a Graduate Instructor (GI) for Research Methods modules through the medium of Welsh and English, facilitated ‘Skills and Stats Drop-ins’, co-supervised postgraduate students, carried out guest lectures, and taught neuroanatomy through practical labs with real human brains. I have also conducted patient presentations, where I bring in a patient with a neurological disorder for students to interact with, and observe aspects of neuropsychological assessment. I have thoroughly enjoyed my teaching experience, and it has brought so much meaning to my life. In particular, I enjoy interacting with students and seeing them achieve their goals. 

Leanne Rowlands

Leanne is a PhD Student at Bangor University.

Twitter: @LeanneRowlands0



Catherine is a PhD student at the University of Exeter.

tWITTER: @Catherinetalb

Catherine Talbot

Catherine is a final year PhD student in the Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health (REACH) at the University of Exeter. Her PhD research examines the use of Twitter by people with dementia. In 2016, Catherine graduated from the University of Bath with a BSc (Hons) degree in Psychology. Catherine is a cyberpsychologist interested in online communities, technology, health, qualitative methods, and science communication. She recently worked with a Devon-based artist to create an exhibition titled Truth and Beauty, which was influenced by Catherine’s work on eating disorders and social media. Catherine is also a committee member of the British Psychological Society South West Branch and the Vice Chair of the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (PsyPAG).

The voices of people with dementia have traditionally been absent from research, policy, and public life. More recently, people with dementia have publicly shared their experiences of living with the condition and acted collectively to produce social change. Social media could support them in doing this, but no studies have comprehensively analysed their use of Twitter. The aims of this research were to examine how Twitter contributes to the creation and maintenance of identity within the context of dementia. Eleven people with dementia took part in semi-structured interviews that examined their use of Twitter. The data from both studies were analysed thematically. The findings of these studies extend current understandings of living with dementia in the digital age and suggest that people with dementia are using Twitter for social connection, self-expression, and advocacy. By combatting isolation and facilitating self-expression, Twitter could be changing the experience of dementia.

rising researcher Prize Runners-Ups

Pete Lawrence

Pete examined transmission of risk from parents with anxiety disorders to their children, and the prevention of anxiety disorders in children at risk of anxiety disorders. These studies showed that parent anxiety disorders place offspring at greater risk of anxiety disorders than depression (risk ratio = 2.5, 95% CI = 1.5-4.16); that social anxiety disorder in 5 year-olds was predicted by maternal social anxiety disorder (odds ratio = 28.33, 95% CI = 1.27-70.64), but not generalized anxiety disorder (odds ratio = 6.04, 95% CI = 0.24-98.11), and that prevention programmes targeted at children at risk of anxiety disorders can be effective (at twelve months after intervention, risk ratio = 0.31, 95% CI = 0.17-0.45).

Pete Lawrence

Pete is a Clinical Psychologist and Research Training Fellow at the University of Reading.

Jeanne Wolstencroft

Jeanne is a PhD student at University College London

Twitter: @JeanneWols

Jeanne Wolstencroft

Jeanne Wolstencroft is a PhD student intent on pursuing a career in translational psychology.  After studying a BSc in Neuroscience, she worked for an online start-up the arts sector. She returned to academia to complete an MSc in Psychology, after which she joined the Great Ormond Street UCL Institute of Child Health to work on the national IMAGINE ID study (Intellectual Disability and Mental Health: Assessing the Genomic Impact on Neurodevelopment). Her PhD research is focused on the link between genetics and mental health, with a special interest in psychological interventions in sex chromosome aneuploidy patients (such as Turner Syndrome). As a post-doc Jeanne aims to adapt evidence-based psychological interventions for online delivery to help manage complex neurodevelopmental disorders.



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