Editorial: Winter 2022-23

Glenn HitchmanWelcome to the Autumn 2022 Edition of the So-Psyched! newsletter. The Psychology and Sociology team have been delighted to welcome new cohorts of students onto our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, as well as to find returning students coming back to classes with a renewed enthusiasm for learning as they begin the new academic year. As much as a quieter environment during the summer period can be conducive to planning, research and project work, there’s nothing quite like the buzz of our Waterside campus as students congregate to pursue their dreams, build friendships and have lots of fun along the way.

In this edition, we take pride in commending students who have recently received awards. Our congratulations go to Simi Thakkar, Jasmin Perryer Barnes and Sarah Puddephatt who were recognised for their achievements, resilience and contributions to enriching the experience of peers on their programmes. Many of our internal prizes are awarded in memory of individuals who have made great contributions to Psychology and Sociology at UON but are sadly no longer with us to witness the achievements of our staff and students. It is with sadness that we reflect in this newsletter on the passing of our former colleague, Dr Sebastian Bartos, and our BSc Psychology (Counselling) student James Dunn-Beeching, both of whom made a deep and lasting impression on the Psychology community at the university during their time with us. Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones.

Since our last publication, students and staff alike have continued to make progress with a number of important research projects that are making a difference to the lives of individuals and groups from various walks of life. Projects featured in this edition include work on teacher training for the new statutory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in schools, safe teaching spaces in higher education, conscious clubbing, clinical approaches to anomalous experiences, the impact of group mindfulness-based meditation, and a ‘Reading for Wellbeing’ project that brings together older adults with primary school aged children to improve wellbeing and cognitive function. In addition to the research funding that has been achieved in support of these projects, we congratulate Associate Professors Rachel Maunder and Kimberley Hill who received recognition at the Diamond Research Awards for excellence in research mentorship and impact, respectively.

One of the highlights of our academic calendar is the annual Psychology conference which brings together students, staff and invited speakers at various stages of their academic journeys to share the outcomes of their projects. Pride caught up with as we reflected on the transformational progress that our graduating students Tom Sanderson and Roxana Teleanu have made since joining us as they accepted prizes for best oral and poster presentations.

With our focus on research, it would be remiss not to give thanks to Prof Chris Roe for his leadership of our research Centre for Psychology and Social Science (CPSS). After 5 years in his leadership role, he now hands over the baton to the safe and deserving hands of Prof Federico Farini. Our congratulations also extend to Dr Louise Spiers who successfully defended her PhD thesis on spiritual experiences of individuals with epilepsy.

Outside of the academic environment, the team have been making valuable contributions in the wider community. In particular, Dr Lauren McAllister has been supporting local autism charity En-Fold in their endeavours to reduce the number of autistic people using mental health inpatient services. We were also delighted to receive correspondence from our recent graduate Lara Asabi detailing her Chancellor’s fund sponsored volunteering work with children in Ghana.

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