Spotlight on our staff
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise
A senior academic leader within Queen's, Emma is a member of the University's Executive Board, which is responsible for steering and supporting the strategic direction of the University.
Emma is a leader in her research field – developmental and comparative psychology – with multiple international and inter-disciplinary collaborations. Her core research concern is how humans acquire their culture, and how culture changes.
I wanted to be part of a team which was going to really make a difference locally and globally, and even though I have only been here a few months, I can see this positive change taking shape.
Queen's is a great university, and has seen much success before I arrived, and my job is to support and extend that success as we move forward. People have been extremely supportive of my appointment and of the changes I've been making, and I am very grateful for this enthusiasm.
I really enjoy working with members from all parts of the university, and appreciate how all these parts fit together, although obviously the complexity of the university and the external landscape can make this difficult sometimes.
In my first week at university as a new student, I told my personal tutor that I thought I might like to do a PhD, as I wanted to know an incredible amount about a very specific area. I think he was quite taken aback by my determination at such an early stage.
I started my academic career trying to understand how and why some individuals worked better together than others, and that led to an interest in how and when we step away from normal practice to innovate new behaviours. I was one of the first academics to address these questions in the laboratory and in real-world contexts, both with children and chimpanzees.
I really enjoy exploring new places: finding new walks with beautiful views, new places to eat, meeting new people, simply trying new things that we have never tried before. I like the complete adventure.
I grew up in London not far from Elstree Studios, and local schools used to get calls from the Studio for pupils to act as extras; so I’ve been in Grange Hill, Persil adverts, and numerous quiz show audiences.
Those who follow me know I love Twitter. Sometimes academics, especially those in senior positions, can seem very distant. Twitter allows me to relate to a large group of people, both in Queen’s and globally, instantaneously. I find it very helpful to gain and get information. I know there is a dark side to Twitter, so I do have certain rules about my use, but so far, I find it very useful.
Not so much advice, but I have a mantra that I use when things get difficult; ‘All this shall pass’. As a working parent, I have had all the trials and tribulations that come with that, such as something bad happening at the worst possible time. I say ‘All this will pass’ to myself, but then I often realise that I don’t want to see this time pass quickly, but to savour every moment.
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