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Celebrating Sussex successes



Two researchers from Sussex will present their work at the British Psychology Society’s (BPS) Annual Conference this April. Their levels of experience and research interests are very different, but they are both engaged in interdisciplinary research.

Florence MowlemFlorence Mowlem, presenting her work on ‘genetic variation and the effect of medicines on thinking    processes’, is a final year student, set to complete her undergraduate degree this summer.

With a bursary from the Doctoral School’s competitive Junior Research Associate scheme, Florence worked under the supervision of Dr Ayana Gibbs, a forensic psychiatrist with the BSMS (Brighton and Sussex Medical School). Through the research project, Florence gained invaluable experience in an interdisciplinary research context, for which Sussex is renown.

Their project explores whether the effects of the noradrenergic drug reboxetine on episodic memory performance are mediated by interactions between COMT genotype, personality, and emotional valence of stimuli.  Findings suggest that affective side effects of reboxetine may be linked to COMT genotype and personality.

At Sussex, undergraduate students have the opportunity to be highly involved in research. For example, through the final year project and schemes such as the Junior Research Associate programme which supports the best undergraduates during the summer vacation as they work alongside Sussex’s top research faculty on real-life research projects.

Presenting at the BPS Annual Conference is an exciting opportunity for Florence, which will provide further insight into the world of research and academia!

Data collection by Dr Coultas for Stories, learning and memory: The advantage of hearing a story from more than one personDr Julie Coultas, is a well-established psychologist, currently Visiting Research Fellow at Sussex since 2010. Dr Coultas will present two papers on the theme of nature and diversity of social cohesion and attachment, looking at how culture is transmitted through story telling. Both papers are co-authored by a Swedish Professor of Mathematics at Stockholm University, Professor Eriksson.

Whilst Professor Eriksson has a fine-tuned understanding of theoretical models, Dr Coultas produces creative ways to test these models, often through Myths, Morphs and Memes, a collaboration between psychologists (Dr Coultas and Dr Yuill) and artists (Rachel Cohen and Patrician Thornton) to move outside the psychology laboratories to collect data through social events where people could choose to take part in experiments.

“The BPS Annual Conference plugs you into the bloodstream”[1], and with three presentations from collaborative researchers at Sussex, our interdisciplinary approach is acting like haemoglobin!

[1] BPS website, accessed 22nd March 2013