SPECTRA LABs summer Research Scholarships 2022

Picture of Reece Docherty

Reece Docherty

Hi! I’m Reece, a 4th year psychology student at HWU. I participated in HWU’s CABS internship programme and have been lucky enough to be a part of the SPECTRA team. Through this opportunity I have been able to accrue experience in data handling, and in both qualitative and quantitative analysis. I have also been able to lay some of the foundational infrastructure which will be used to understand the quantitative data collected, as well as format case studies to inform future data collection. Both of which were incredibly challenging and exciting, testing my problem-solving skills. To anyone considering a position with SPECTRA labs or a similar role, my recommendation would be to take it as my experience has been superb!
Picture of Benjamin Nkere

Benjamin Nkere

During my internship, I was given the fantastic opportunity to work on numerous projects that spanned across the various interdisciplinary fields of the SPECTRA labs. As a result, I gained the experience of collaborating with other interns, VRAs, Dr McKendrick herself, and other psychology staff members. I was specifically involved in projects from the STAR lab and the MIND lab. My responsibilities within the STAR lab included refining the study design, conducting presentation studies, and creating user guides for the VR lab and Eye-tracking technology. The MIND lab project I was involved in was the ‘Map’ Database, which aims to facilitate early diagnosis and personalised treatment of mental health difficulties by establishing illness patterns using data analytics. My initial contribution to the MIND Map database project was made with a literature review of psychometric scales that could be used for data collection. However, upon fulfilling this core responsibility, I contributed my programming knowledge in Python, SQL, and Django to propose and create a rudimentary demo for a web application and database model that could help fulfil the aims of the MIND Map by collecting, organising and analysing data in a streamlined fashion. Overall, the internship was a fantastic experience which allowed me to practise my academic skills, contribute meaningfully to impactful research, and gain insights into the research assistant world of work. So, I would recommend that anyone that is eager to learn, use the best of their abilities, and experience work as research assistant in a professional environment should apply for a position with SPECTRA labs!

Medical Education Lab (M.E.L) CABs Summer research Scholarship 2022

Chris Purcell

Clinicians’ Attitudes to Visualisation Technologies Questionnaire (CAVTQ)
M.E.L. project co-supervised by Dr Mioara Cristea

My project was entitled Development and Validation of Clinicians’ Attitudes to Visualisation Technologies Questionnaire (CAVTQ). The research focused on clinicians’ opinions of the benefits and challenges of using visualisation technology, specifically eye-tracking, augmented reality and virtual reality, in clinical practice and training, with the aim of designing a questionnaire based on these opinions. The initial part of the research was qualitative in nature as semi-structured interviews and a focus group were conducted. However, once the questionnaire was designed, it was utilised to gather quantitative data from as many clinicians as possible to provide a general understanding of clinician attitudes towards visualisation technology in practice and training.

My role over the internship was to transcribe the interviews and focus group and then conduct a thematic analysis of the data, something that I had never done before. Myself and my supervisor agreed on a framework that I would follow to conduct the thematic analysis and this was carried out using Nvivo, a qualitative analysis software package which I had never used before. Consequently, over the course of my internship I was able to acquire two new technical skills; how to conduct a thematic analysis and how to use a new software tool for qualitative analysis.

Alongside these skills, the internship provided me with an insight into the world of clinicians and the incredible work they do. The opportunity to have a discussion with clinicians about their experiences and to understand how they could benefit from visualisation technology was one I could not have gotten elsewhere. Furthermore, I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop for Anaesthetists where they used eye tracking technology to practice clinical procedures on cadavers. Being able to observe this and subsequently hear the feedback provided to the Anaesthetists relative to where they were gazing during the procedure for example, provided me with an experience of how psychological research can have a real-world impact. Moreover, the experience of seeing cadavers was a humbling one and will live long in my memory; another unique experience I could not have gotten elsewhere.

Leila MacLean

Post-operative pain perception (POPP) co-supervised by Professor Alan Gow

Chronic pain affects over 50 % of older people (Tinnerello et al, 2021), which presents a threat to healthy ageing. Arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery) occurs at an average age of 69 years, though persistent post-operative knee pain affects about 16% 12 months after surgery (Rice et al., 2018). Pain perception has been associated with attention, cognition (beliefs, attitudes, expectations, memory), emotions/emotional regulation and behaviours (e.g. avoidance) (Linton & Shaw, 2011). The aim of the study is to collect qualitative data from people who have experienced or are experiencing post-operative pain, to form the basis of a diagnostic/therapeutic serious game to diagnose and reduce pain.

FACE Lab CABs Summer Research Internship 2021

  • George Gray – Co Supervisors – Dr Louise Delicatto & Prof Graham Turner – I am a fourth-year psychology student and CABS summer research assistant intern. Over summer I have been working on the Sensitivity of people to Different Identities and Emotions (SeDIE) project. We have been investigating whether being a user of BSL affects people’s sensitivity to identity and emotion recognition and how psychiatric or neurodiverse traits affect this. By working on this project, I have gained valuable experience in working as part of a team of professional researchers to successfully carry out a research study. This has also given me an insight into some of the challenges researchers face when carrying out studies, such as recruitment and ethical challenges.


CABs summer Research Scholarship 2022

Remy Abbott


Social Anxiety to Confidence Coding System (SACCS) co-supervised by Dr Louise Delicato

Confident social performance is associated with personal and professional resilience across contexts, but confidence can be undermined by social or performance anxiety during public speaking. The Expert Performance Approach (EPA) involves performance capture under controlled conditions in a repeated manner using tests that can discriminate skill level. Based on EPA, the aim of the project is to develop a sophisticated coding system based on fine grained observations of recorded online videoed presentations. This will be used as the basis for an automated behavioural analysis tool using machine learning and artificial intelligence to enable self-monitoring and performance assessment and to predict readiness to perform to accompany a digital intervention for social/performance anxiety.

Voluntary research Assistants (VRAs)


Dina Rogerro (UG student Edinburgh – Graduated 2022)

Dina has been helping out on several studies conducting literature reviews, most recently on the ‘Development of social confidence assessment and feedback tool’ study currently recruiting (see Take Part in Research studies Tab) where she has been acting as an audience member for the study and has been involved in behavioural analysis. Hear from Dina in her own words via the link below about her experiences working as a VRA in STAR Lab.

Alice Colnaghi (4th year UG Student Edinburgh)

I am currently in the third year of my undergraduate degree and have been assisting with the ‘Development of social confidence assessment and feedback tool’ study with Dr. Mel McKendrick. I am particularly interested in occupational and organisational psychology, with my dissertation topic surrounding predictors of burnout in the workplace. By volunteering as a research assistant, I have gained valuable insight into how a research project progresses, some of the challenges that may arise and how they are tackled, and how to work effectively as part of a professional team of researchers. Assisting with this project has also helped in solidifying my love for data analysis, and as a result I aim to start a career in data analytics once I graduate.

Oscar Thompson (UG Student Edinburgh – Graduated 2022)

Oscar also previously helped to develop a behavioural scoring scheme for the ‘Development of social confidence assessment and feedback tool’ study’. Hear from Oscar in his own words via the link below about her experiences working as a VRA in STAR Lab.

Dina and her fellow summer interns taking about their experiences

Voluntary Research Assistants

Gamification for Education 2022

Declan Murphy (4th year UG Student Edinburgh)

I am Declan and I’m currently in my 4th year on a BSc (Hons) Psychology course. My plans after graduation is to pursue a masters degree and eventually study my way up into a career within experimental psychology. I’m particularly interested in learning about cognitive psychology and neuropsychology – although I am currently involved in studying a range of areas, for example, my dissertation is focusing on climate-change-related anxiety. Outside of academia, I play guitar and have quite a large interest in creating music of all kinds as well as creating and editing videos as a hobby for my friends to enjoy.

Student Directed Studies

Carnegie Summer Research Scholarship 2021

  • Dina Rogerro – In my third year of my undergraduate degree, I completed a 12-week long project funded by a Carnegie Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship titled, ‘A trial and investigation into the effectiveness of a virtual befriending scheme for socially isolated adults’. This qualitative research project aimed to assess how engaging and beneficial it would be to incorporate a virtual tour of a tourist attraction into remote befriending sessions and what some of the barriers are that prevent befriending service-users from being able to take part in virtual befriending. The findings from this study revealed that whilst there are a number of benefits to the virtual befriending activity, issues relating to technology are some of the main reasons why befriendees are unable or uninterested in virtual befriending.