As a clinical psychology student Kate'straining has predominantly focussed on the negative effects of ill-health and the factors that contribute to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. However, health is not merely the absence of illness, but the presence of wellbeing. Kate's PhD research has allowed her to explore just that – the lifestyle factors that lead to psychological wellbeing.
Anna's interest in older adults began during her undergraduate years, while working in the Development Across the Lifespan lab. She loved the experience of research; both conducting experiments and discovering something new – even if it was only a small piece of a large puzzle. Anna found that she really enjoyed the experience of conducting research with older adults.
Clinical psychology involves a lot of detective work – thinking about how pieces of the puzzle fit together to explain the issues people may be experiencing, and to provide a guide on how best to help them move their life forward. Coming to New Zealand from Singapore, where mental illness is quite often swept under the rug, she has found the contrast between the two countries astounding, and it got her thinking - "how does culture influence the perception and prognosis of mental illness?”
“In Psychology we seek to understand and explain how people think, act and feel using scientific principles, observation and interpretation. In my field of interest I am more intrigued by whether your mobile phone can be adapted to provide you with a psychological intervention or assist you to participate in your own healthcare rather than the ins and outs of the corners of your brain.”
Bridget has always been interested in two very distinct career pathways: Psychology and the law. Graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Bachelor of Laws in 2010, her research experience through the Department of Psychology's honours programme convinced her to embark on a PhD in Psychology ... and she hasn't looked back.
“I have always been fascinated by the forensic sciences, especially the procedures and protocols involved in criminal investigations and catching the bad guy.” So, she undertook a PhD in Psychology with the hope that she could aid forensic investigators in improving how they function, and reduce the likelihood of errors - because every mistake can have severe consequences.
“As a teenager I was an Arts student at heart; I have always been passionate about writing and language but I didn't expect to be analysing these aspects from a social cognitive perspective for a PhD.”
Blake Porter chose a career path in science because he is deeply fascinated by how things work. His childhood was the classic story familiar to many scientists; he would take apart everything he could get his hands on to see how they worked and try to build his own versions. “My passion for finding out how things work led me to the brain, the ultimate black box of mystery. I had to know how it all worked.”
If you had told Ben Riordan a few years ago that he would be doing a PhD he would've laughed at you. “I was a pretty ordinary undergraduate student. I didn't really apply myself during my undergraduate degree in Psychology. It wasn't until my fourth year that I started to seriously enjoy what I was doing and considered doing more research. The Drugs and Behaviour paper in particular was a game changer.”
“What I have come to learn about 'Psychology' is that it is all around us and it touches on every aspect of our lives. The study of human mind and behaviour is fascinating – it's absolutely amazing.”
Shannon didn't make the required grade to get through first year law so decided to fill in her Finance degree with a few Psychology papers. “From there, something just clicked. The way psychology challenges norms, questions facts and theorises new ways of doing things really excited me. Fast forward four years and I've finished a double degree in Finance and Psychology and am half way through a PhD combining the two subjects.”