Primary School – St George’s CE School
High School – Albany Science College
College – Runshaw College
Undergraduate, Masters & PhD – Bangor University
Biology – B
Chemistry – C
Physics – A
Math – B
English – B
Catering – A
Religious Education – A
Geography – B
Drama – B
Philosophy – D
Psychology – B
Religious Studies – B
Sociology – B
Psychology – B
Psychological Research – B
I did work experience in high school as a chef in a restaurant
In University I did a lot of jobs that involved organizing meetings for different groups of people with different hobbies;
Social Events Co-Ordinator of the Psychology Society
Chairman of the Psychology Society
Chairman of the Anime Society
Treasurer of the Baker Society
I also got a part-time job teaching a public speaking class for my university’s Psychology department
I worked in a few different research labs helping people to do their research to get work experience
Between my Masters and PhD I got a job working in a supermarket stacking shelves, then got promoted to a department leader/manager.
In my PhD I got a number of jobs teaching;
Marking essays and exams for modules
Teaching Biological Psychology and Introduction to Psychology modules for Bangor University International College
Teaching assistant in Undergraduate and Masters module for Psychology
Statistics help for Bangor University’s Psychology and Education departments
I’m a laid back Educational Cognitive Neuropsychologist with an interest in teaching and research. I like to teach with a friendly and informal atmosphere and enjoy creating research tools to experiment with. I hope that my work helps to make things better for people who are struggling.
Hello I’m Alex! I am 28 and I live in Bangor (Wales) with my wife and 4 cats (Yuki, Boo, Moogle and Ziggy shown in the pictures below). I am a PhD student at Bangor University’s School of Education and I work very closely within the Psychology department so I get to meet lots of people who work on different stuff! After a day of work I like to unwind by playing video games, watching movies and anime, and eating junk food (probably pizza!).
My main goal in science is to help people to get through their lives a little easier. At the moment I am looking into how our brains process math and numbers, and how we can get really emotional and stressed when we do math, and what that means for how we can organize our thoughts and figure out answers. I’m also looking at ways we can trick the brain to do math better when we’re stressed about it.
I do a lot of teaching on the side of my research, I teach an introduction to Psychology module, as well as a Biological Psychology module where we get to look at all the bits of the brain. I also help teach research skills and statistics in the hope that the next generation of scientists are even smarter!
My PhD started out as replicating a previous experiment from our lab where people who were high in anxiety performed better in tasks that use a lot of mental resources when they listen to instructions or read them out loud to themselves, compared to reading them silently in their heads. We made our task more complicated to figure out if there was any overlap (is there any effect whilst reading and ignoring sounds, or listening and ignoring writing), where we found that people who are highly anxious get distracted by sounds when reading, and do better in tasks when they just listening to instructions.
Following this I worked on a paper where I had to read and combine 86 published scientific experiments and then write about what all of these papers had to say when combined. The more that say the same thing, the better we can trust their message! This paper is currently under review for publication!
Next I ran an experiment where people perform math equations whilst reading everything out loud to themselves, or are working in silence, to see if they perform better when listening to themselves read instructions. Surprisingly we found that reading out loud did not really help!
I am currently following this experiment up with another one where people have to listen to a reading of Alice in Wonderland. Listening to the reading makes it really hard to focus on the math, so you are unable to use the voice in your head to figure out what the equations are. We want to see if there is a difference between doing this, or reading math out loud to yourself.
My work involves discussing specific functions within the front of the brain, and areas that process negative emotions whilst trying to use this knowledge to help people in school or out of it.
My Typical Day:
I get up at half 8 in the morning, go downstairs to work from home (thanks to Covid). I teach an online class at 9am for an hour and half for international students that we have from all over the world. Next I check my emails to see if anything interesting has happened over night, usually it’s pretty quiet but I’ll get a ton of messages throughout the day with things. I am currently running two experiments, so I need to check to see if I have any participants booked in for the rest of the day. One of my experiments is automated so I don’t need to do anything, but the other experiment needs me to sit in a video call with someone whilst they do math. At the end of the day I prepare for my class and make sure that my experiments are all up to date before i finish at 5 in time for tea!
My usual day consists of teaching an early morning 9am class, I normally run 3 classes a week, and the content of the class changes depending on when in the year it is. My classes are normally all online because the students come from all over the world, as I teach international students. Because things are calming down with Covid my teaching is slowly moving back to teaching in person which is nice!
After that I check my emails in case I have any emails for important updates (applications to various things – like I’m A Scientist!, or updates on participants for my experiments). I also lead a research project so I need to make sure I constantly check my email for updates, and make sure my student researchers know what they are doing, when they should be testing participants and making sure everyone is happy with what is going on.
Sometimes I have video call meetings with my supervisor who is like my teacher, to make sure we both know what we are doing this week. We normally do these whenever we have time, but at the moment we teach together on Fridays so we go for lunch and have a chat!
Running experiments can be quite fun. I’m still doing online only experiments as it is easier to do without having to worry about rules. When I have a participant booked in I’ll give them a call online where I give them the program to run which contains all of the things in my experiment. I put myself on mute so I don’t distract them, and just sit in silence listening to them to make sure they’re doing what they are supposed to! Because my experiments rely on people reading things out loud I need to make sure they do it, usually they don’t unless I remind them!
I have to keep preparing for any classes that I have, so I am always reading new science articles and information so I can keep myself and my students up to date on the current findings. A lot can go on if you’re not keeping an eye on Google, so I make sure to check up pretty regularly. Whilst listening to participants do my experiments I have some time to read a few bits which is handy!
What I'd do with the prize money:
I would like to donate it to a local school to purchase new and exciting science materials. A new computer is better than old, dusty textbooks!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Nothing naughty, but I liked to talk a lot
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I really like metal music at the moment!
What's your favourite food?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Enough money to live comfortably, a bigger house for my cats, unlimited pizza
Tell us a joke.
Two people walk in to a bar, you would have thought that one of them would have ducked under it