Following my recent adventures as a guest researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany (read more here and here), I have once again packed up my life in London to move to a different institute in a different country for an exciting research opportunity. But this time, I moved slightly farther away. I’m a research assistant at The University of Melbourne!
Caption for the photo: You know you’re in the right place when the street art is of Steven Pinker!
I met Dr. Pascal Molenberghs a little over a year ago in Cologne, at the Understanding Others workshop . In his keynote talk Dr. Molenberghs presented his fascinating neuroimaging research investigating group-based conflict, violence, and reconciliation. I was presenting some of my research focusing on dehumanisation at the same conference, and we ended up having a great discussion about our mutual research topics and interests. This conversation led to a decision to collaborate together on an fMRI project along similar topics.
I arrived to the Molenberghs Social Neuroscience Lab in the beginning of April, and will be spending a total of three months in Melbourne. During my time here, I am overseeing data collection for our current fMRI project. We are currently collecting data using a 7T fMRI scanner at the Melbourne Brain Centre.
Caption for the photo: Scanning on a 7T machine is super exciting, but also has its own challenges. Expect to see a post soon where I summarise these!
When I am not in the lab, I aim to be engaged with the great events and workshops organised by the School of Psychology. There is a strong interest in social psychological topics, with a number of distinguished researchers actively working on topics lying very close to my own research interests, including morality, dehumanisation, group conflict and aggression, and mindfulness. The Ethics & Well-Being Hub organises weekly meetings and journal clubs directly addressing recent findings relevant to such line of research.
Caption for the photo: The stunning view from my Parkville campus office overlooks Melbourne CBD.
So far, my time at The University of Melbourne has exceeded any expectations that I had. I am working in a truly wonderful department, surrounded by inspiring researchers, some of whom have been my role models for many years, and am using cutting edge technologies to carry out my research. I have an abundance of learning opportunities. At the same time, I am in a colourful city buzzing with excitement, life, and nature. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be here and I cannot wait to see what the last two months of my stay will bring!
Caption for the photo: Yes, you really do get to see kangaroos around Australia fairly often! We found these guys just randomly hanging out in one of the national parks!