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Faculty of Science Thesis Prize (Psychology)

This award recognises the best doctoral theses across the Faculty and is recognised by a certificate and a prize of £500.


Dr Jian-Qiao Zhu; supervisors Professor Elliot Ludvig and Professor Adam Sanborn

"The Sampling Brain"

Zhu's thesis was commended by the panel for it's innovation, scientific rigour, and theoretical breadth. Supervisors Professor Elliot Ludvig and Professor Adam Sanborn commended the thesis as an exceptional computational investigation of the process of mental sampling in several different cognitive domains, with implications for Psychology, Computer Science, Neuroscience and beyond. The main research focus was how the process of mental sampling can lead to more optimal behaviour. The thesis explored how mental sampling can provide novel insights into core human behaviours, such as curiosity, risk-taking, temporal estimation, and memory recall.

Dr Danielle Norman (Faculty PhD Thesis Impact Prize in Psychology); supervisors Professor Derrick Watson, Dr Kim Wade, Professor Mark Williams (WMG)

"Factors Modulating Memory-based Deception Detection in Concealed Information Tests"

Danni's thesis examined;a wide range of factors related to the Concealed Information Test, which is a well-validated paradigm that uses indirect measures such as physiological measures or Reaction Times to assess recognition memory. In addition to providing high-level publications Danni has given invited talks to the Police and MoD who are interested in applying the work. Professor Derrick Watson (supervisor) commented that given the sustained interest from various groups, real-world impact looks extremely likely. The Judging Panel noted that the studies quoted represent a substantial and original contribution to the literature and that the impact of the resulting papers will certainly to be substantial.


Dr Konstantinos Mantantzis; supervisor Professor Elizabeth Maylor

“Psychobiology of Emotion-Cognition Interactions in Ageing”

Kostas’s PhD project focused on examining the physiological underpinnings of emotion-cognition interactions in ageing and, specifically, the role of glucose availability and overall Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) functionality. The Judging Panel was very impressed by the originality and quality of his PhD research as well as by the high level of publications that have resulted from his PhD work. The thesis by Kostas had an edge in that he derived important research questions for experiments that are not so obvious at first sight but were carefully motivated by the literature. To creatively generate innovative research questions is an important but difficult part of scientific endeavor and therefore, the Panel commended the thesis by Kostas for doing just that so beautifully.

Dr Edika Quispe-Torreblanca; supervisor Professor Neil Stewart

“Essays on Individual Decision Making in the Field”

In the words of her internal examiner, Edika’s “work was sterling in every way. She tested great ideas, and did so using a remarkable degree of empirical care and statistical rigour.” The Judging Panel also believes that her thesis makes a huge contribution methodologically, theoretically, and empirically as the work is interdisciplinary and covers several different topics and literatures. The impact of the resulting papers (on police misconduct and on credit-card repayment behaviour) is certainly to be substantial, especially as the research has appeared in the very top journals (Nature Human Behaviour and Management Science).


Dr Suzanne Aussems; supervisor Professor Sotaro Kita

“How Seeing Iconic Gestures Facilitates Action Event Memory and Verb Learning in 3-year-old Children”

Suzanne’s PhD project examined how children’s word learning and memory of events are affected by seeing adults’ hand gestures that depict the referent of words or events to be remembered. Suzanne was nominated by her supervisor, Professor Sotaro Kita, who expects the theoretical depth of Suzanne’s studies to become very influential in the field and in whose words Suzanne “is thinking about communicative functions of gestures in a very innovative way, going beyond the state-of-the-art understanding that gesture simply encode information and convey it to the recipient.”


Dr Zorana Zupan; supervisor Dr Derrick Watson

"Control and Development of Time-based Visual Selection"

Zorana's PhD thesis covered two main topics: i) the strategic use of time-based visual selection - mechanisms that allow us to control when and what we attend to and how these can be used to avoid distraction, and ii) the time-course of the development of those mechanisms from childhood to adulthood. Zorana was nominated by her supervisor, Dr Derrick Watson, who said that efficient selection mechanisms are so central to everyday functioning that Zorana's study is of great importance for understanding behaviour in a vast range of settings


Dr Takao Noguchi; supervisors Dr Adam Sanborn and Professor Neil Stewart

“Choice Evaluation and Context Effects”


Dr Joana Lourenco; supervisor Professor Elizabeth Maylor

“Task Interference Effects in Prospective Memory”