Meet the SoBA Lab
Emily completed a BA at Pomona College (USA), an MSc at the University of Otago (NZ), and a PhD at Dartmouth College (USA). She hails from the small town of Chagrin Falls in the great state of Ohio. Through her work in the SoBA lab, she addresses how experience shapes perception and is especially interested in how we learn new skills by watching others, how action expertise is manifest in the brain, the neural foundations of art appreciation/neuroaesthetics, and our social interactions with artificial agents. When not in the lab, Emily can be found exploring the mountains or sea, watching animal documentaries (and/or cat videos), dancing, or trying to master the Glasgwegian and Australian accents. Emily was previously an assistant professor at Radboud University Nijmegen/Donders Institute in the Netherlands and a lecturer/SL/Professor of Social Neuroscience at Bangor University, and currently serves as the PI on the ERC Starting Grant SOCIAL ROOBTS and holds joint appointments as a Professor of Social Robotics at the University of Glasgow and a Professor of Human Neuroscience at Macquarie University.
Emily S. Cross
Richard completed his BSc and PhD at the University of Birmingham (UK). Originally from Leeds, West Yorkshire, he grew up with a keen interest in sport, which led him to study Sport and Exercise Sciences as an undergraduate. During his PhD, Richard became interested in the human brain and how we make sense of other people, and has since been performing research in Social and Cognitive Neuroscience. Richard is a Reader and has been on the School of Psychology faculty at Bangor University since 2012. When he's not reading brains, he can be found paying homage to David Bowie and running marathons.
Bishakha comes from the city of Kolkata in India. She has a BSc in Computer Science from Fergusson College (Pune, India), a Masters in Computer Application (Chennai University, India) and Masters in Virtual Reality and Computer Graphics from the University Of Sussex (UK). All the computer games she played while growing up piqued her interest in virtual reality, computer gameplay and artificial intelligence. Her masters dissertation and the game mods and demos she made ensured her a career in the games industry in London. She worked mainly as an AI programmer and was responsible for AI racers and developing variety in the characteristics of non-human players. After this, she joined a team working on computer-aided orthopaedic surgery, where a robotic hand was used for performing precision hip and knee surgery. She then followed her family to scenic North Wales and worked in the local IT industry for six years as a senior developer and technical analyst. As she was looking for an opportunity to return to AI and robotics, the Social Robots project was the perfect opportunity for her to do so. In her spare time she likes reading, going on hikes, dabbling with paint, and on those rare sunny days, taking her two boys to the beach.
Ruud, a Dutchman, obtained his PhD under supervision of Prof. Beatrice de Gelder at Tilburg University, The Netherlands. Before that, he completed a BSc in Social Work, a BSc in Psychology, and an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. In his research he investigates the neural mechanisms of positive and negative social interactions. He continued to explore these topics as a postdoctoral researcher on Dutch and South African soil at Maastricht University and the University of Cape Town. Excited by the unique insights robots offer human psychology and neuroscience, he is eager to explore the dynamic social interactions between robots and less robot-like beings in the Social Robots project. In his spare time, he is an avid reader, emerging hiker, and an unapologetic Smiths enthusiast
Originally a developmental psychologist with core interests in social cognition, Maki gained a Ph.D. on theory of mind and sarcasm in preschoolers and then worked on autobiographical memory in infants (Lancaster), sandwiched with a lectureship (Manchester) in between. Following a career break to raise a family, she hopped to health research on analysis of telephone consultation with NHS 24 and an online intervention for dentally anxious children (St Andrews and Dundee) and more recently around mental health, children and technology (IHW, Glasgow). She is excited about her adventure with Social Robotics where she can revisit and nurture her set of skills from past research as well as reflect her experience of arriving in the UK as an undergraduate from Japan where she was born and brought up.
Being a busy mum of two human children and a lovable/handful canine baby, her life and work are constantly intertwined, which she considers one of the greatest blessings of being an academic. When time allows, she likes to play tennis, go for walks on hills and mountains, or make/mend things with hands, from cooking, baking or sewing.
Chris completed his BSc in Psychology at the University of Liverpool. During his undergraduate studies, Chris developed an interest into the clinical applications of psychology and neurosciences. To pursue this interest he completed the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Bangor University in 2016. Following a 12 month hiatus, globe trotting with his family, he joined the North Wales Brain Injury Service as a Clinical Psychologist. This post reinforced his passion for clinical and cognitive neuroscience. Chris is excited to join the SoBA lab as a PhD student under the co-supervision of Dr Richard Ramsey and Dr Rudi Coetzer. As a father of soon-to-be three, Chris rarely has the luxury of spare time... but when he does he wastes it wisely.
Kohinoor hails from the city of Pune in India. A chance encounter with a book titled “The Tell-Tale Brain – A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human” by V S Ramachandran inspired her to take up Psychology as a subject. She completed a BA in Psychology at Fergusson College (India) and an MSc in Foundations of Clinical Psychology at Bangor University (UK). Interested in exploring the cognitive and brain systems that are at work when we are engaged in the social world, Kohinoor has recently started her PhD under the supervision of Dr Richard Ramsey. Always on the lookout for new adventures, Kohinoor enjoys traveling, climbing mountains, and dreams of becoming a skydiving instructor in the future, among many other things. A professional Indian classical dancer, she also loves animals, reading, music, social work, and learning new languages.
Originally from the cold and rainy north of Germany, Anna completed a BSc in Psychology at the University of Konstanz, where she developed a passion for neuroscience and all things brain related. She left for the Netherlands in 2015 to pursue a Master’s degree in Cognitive Neuropsychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, exchanging her running route alongLake Constance for the Amstel river. Topics she is interested in include (but are not limited to) empathy, emotion regulation and our social (as well as antisocial) brain. Besides neuroscience, she likes to explore as many bookstores as she can, always leaving with a book (or two), British TV shows, and taking lots and lots of pictures on travels abroad. Anna is excited to join the Social Robots project in September 2017, to find out more about the underlying neural mechanisms of socializing with our robotic friends. After getting acquainted with them in graphic novels, movies and books, she cannot wait to delve into the intricacies of interacting with robots in real life, upgrading from science fiction to science
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Te-Yi grew up in the hustle and bustle of Taipei, and completed a BSc in Psychology at Chung Shan Medical University and came to the beautiful North Wales for her MSc at Bangor University. During her Masters in Psychology Research, Te-Yi developed a great interest in human-robot interaction (HRI) and investigated people’s responses to a social robot’s negative emotions in a competitive game. Such research experience also inspired her to keep pursuing the passion in this field. She is now undertaking an ERC funded PhD in Neuroscience and Psychology under the supervision of Prof. Emily Cross at the University of Glasgow. Te-Yi strives to understand how human minds respond to human-like artificial agents from both cognitive and social psychology perspectives, in order to gain insight into our mental processes and also to see what psychologists can do to bring about ideal HRI. In her spare time, she likes to read, paint, watch movies, and is recently an amateur translator.
Laura is an American who moved to the UK from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, and joined Professor Cross' lab in 2018. Prior to pursuing a PhD, Laura worked in several research institutions around the US and has also worked as a registered Educational Psychologist in the UK and US.
Laura is interested in understanding more about how humans and robots interact in social situations and whether, under certain conditions, humans may perceive that a robot "has a mind of its own." Further, she would like to understand how these perceptions might be different across the lifespan, between cultures, and between those with typical and atypical social development. Laura is thrilled to be joining the Social Robots Lab! She will be working on a Social Robots project to understand more about the neural mechanisms involved in various human and robot social interactions.
In her free time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, diy projects, and getting outdoors (especially, along the coastline or in the mountains).
Rachel came to the field of Social Neuroscience later in life, following years of pondering why people do what they do and how they are capable of both spectacular cognition and mind boggling failures. An abundance of reading and online learning sparked an interest in the brain, its evolution and problems following injury or associated with developmental conditions. So she embarked on a MSc in Neuropsychology at Bangor University in 2015. During her PhD, co-supervised by Dr. Ramsey and Dr. Koldewyn, she would like to further her understanding of social learning, individual differences and investigate the nuances of imitation. She is interested in how a person develops typical social functioning as well as the causes and consequences of atypical social orientations, such as those seen in autism. Cultural norms are ingrained in each of us, so disentangling the relationship between innate motivation and neural functioning from culturally constructed behaviour is at the heart of her curiosity. Better understanding those who are not afflicted with obsessive sociableness may help us to investigate learning in isolation. Eventually, she would love to align that knowledge with learning and innovation in our great, non-human relatives.
Henry recently switched over to the so-bots lab from a PhD in philosophy of cognitive science at the University of Warwick where his research focused on computational models of motor control in individual and joint action. At the end of 2017 and into the summer of 2018 he worked as a researcher at the Cognitive Robotics, and Interaction Lab at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, Italy under the supervision of Dr. Alessandra Sciutti and Dr. Francesco Rea. This year he will begin a PhD in social robotics under the supervision of Prof. Emily Cross as part of the so-bots lab in Glasgow. His research interests lie at the intersection of neuroscience, robotics, and computer science. Specifically he is interested in the computational modelling of social cognitive function in human-human and human-robot interaction and the development of these models into workable frameworks for applications in real-world robotics platforms. His PhD work focuses on bringing deep neural networks and machine learning research to bear on questions in kinematic communication in human-human and human-robot interaction. In his spare time Henry enjoys running, cooking, and playing video games. He is also an avid and unashamed player of Dungeons and Dragons and hopes to one day be the owner of a fleet of giant dogs.
Originally from the northern town of Oswaldtwistle, Katie moved to sunny Cornwall to study Marine Sciences and the innovative technologies used in the Renewable Energy sector. She then turned her attention to how technology can be used to help people more directly and began her studies at Bangor University. Katie studied BSc Psychology with Neuropsychology whilst volunteering in a number of the research labs, then an ESRC funded MSc in Psychological Research. Katie is excited to continue her studies at the University of Glasgow, undertaking an ESRC Industrial Strategy Studentship under the supervision of Prof. Emily Cross. Her PhD will aim to better understand the role social robots could play in healthy independent ageing, and how our attitudes and perceptions of robots might change over time. When Katie isn’t dancing or bouldering, she enjoys watching the documentaries of Louis Theroux and attempting to cook.
As a born and bred Scottish lass, Rebecca has spent the past 5 years completing her BSc and MSc studies in Psychology at the University of Glasgow. She is very excited to continue her journey there as a new member of the SoBA Lab on an ESRC-funded PhD under the supervision of Professor Emily Cross. Her love of classical ballet and passion for social psychology were the driving forces behind her interest in how individuals identify emotion from the body in motion. She will be exploring this area further with the SoBA Lab and is looking forward to implementing the ideas with the help of her new robotic friends! When not in the lab Rebecca can be found brunching with friends, attending life drawing sessions, preparing choreography to teach to her ballet class or searching the west end for pugs to cuddle.
Born and raised on the windy and rainy Isle of Man, Andrew came to windy and rainy Bangor to complete both his BSc and MSc in Psychology. Enticed by the subject matter of his masters dissertation, Andrew felt compelled to dig deeper into reproducibility issues in priming, and proposed a PhD project to better understand the factors underpinning replication failures which have become commonplace in the field. Emphasising high statistical power and robust methodologies Andrew hopes to identify the conceptual gap between reliable paradigms, such as cognitive priming and visual adaptation, and the typically inconsistent findings of social and goal priming. Andrew is particularly interested in individual differences and personality, and hopes to uncover how these factors might relate to perception and social cognition in the context of priming. In his free time, Andrew enjoys composing, recording and producing music with his rather excessive collection of guitars. His other hobbies include knitting, cooking, cleaning, game design, walking, brewing wine, drawing, blogging and freelancing.
Guy comes from sunny Tel Aviv, Israel, where he completed his bachelor studies in Communication Science at the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya (IDC), specializing in interactive communications. During his studies Guy was a member of IDC’s media innovation lab (miLAB), developing robotic prototypes and mobile applications to study their influence on human behaviours. Eager to continue exploring, Guy conducted his Research Master’s studies at the University of Amsterdam focusing on human-agent cooperation, personalized interactions, and the role of discourse in agents’ embodied cognition.
Guy is pursuing his PhD as an ESR member of ENTWINE, the European Training Network on Informal Care, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovation Training Network (ITN) funded by the European Union. His research examines how caregivers disclose their emotions and needs to social robots, and how these, in turn, can reduce caregivers’ stress and burden. This project is aimed at developing personalized solutions, interventions, and recommendations to support and promote caregivers’ well-being using social robots.
In his free time, Guy enjoys spending time in the mountains hiking, snowboarding, and photographing.
Originally from Romania, Ionela completed a BA in History-Art History at Babes-Bolyai University (Cluj-Napoca, Romania) and a MA in Art Image Studies at Bucharest University (Romania). Interested in exploring the aesthetic experience beyond the realm of humanities she studied BSc Psychology at Bangor University. Ionela is currently undertaking an ESRC funded MSc in Psychological Research and a PhD under the supervision of Dr. Richard Ramsey. Her research interests are focused on the cognitive and neural mechanisms of aesthetic evaluation of implied motion perception in visual art. In her free time, Ionela enjoys travelling, reading and visiting museums.
Jean-Noël was born and raised in London, where he completed his BSc Psychology degree at Goldsmiths, University of London. At Goldsmiths, Jean-Noël fostered a love for social psychology, especially social behaviour and perception. Between studies, he was keen on research involving social robots, which can help us to better understand human behaviour and interactions. Enticed by Glasgow University’s social robotic platform and enamoured by Glasgow City, he moved to Glasgow and is currently undertaking an MSc in Research Methods in Psychological Science. Through his studies, he has taken a particular interest in social robot design, specifically: socio-ethical considerations, facilitating positive human-robot interactions, and the integration of social robots in everyday life. He is happy and excited to be part of the SoBA lab and is working with Guy Laban on self-disclosure. In his spare time, he likes to cook and has a love for music.
Rosanne is from Utrecht, the Netherlands and finished her Psychology bachelor at the University of Utrecht. During her bachelor she went to Belfast, North-Ireland for a semester. Here she followed courses that were quite different from the courses at home, like Applied Animal Psychology and Criminological Theory. She is currently in her second year of the research master Neuroscience and Cognition, and she will be doing her minor research project here with us in Glasgow. She will work on a fNIRS project studying real life interactions between robots and humans.
Last year she did an 10 month internship at the University Medical Centre of Utrecht in which she studied the reorganization of the auditory cortex of deaf people by using fMRI.
She loves travelling (hence the studying abroad), animals, painting, drawing (anything creative) and working out (especially with friends!).
Dorina de Jong
Dorina grew up at Terschelling, one of the beautiful Frisian Islands in the northwest of the Netherlands. To get to know more about how humans perceive and interact with the world around them, she moved to Amsterdam, where she completed a BSc in Psychobiology at the University of Amsterdam. Dorina is currently pursuing an MSc in Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Groningen and is thrilled to join the SoBA lab in the vibrant city of Glasgow. Her interest in human-machine interaction developed during her undergraduate when she got to work on a project which let people steer a drone by using brain signals. She is now excited to delve into the wonders of how humans socially interact with robots, and is curious whether we can really feel bad for a robot. Dorina will be working with Ruud, Anna and Te-Yi on empathy in human-robot teams. In her free time, she likes to read and listen to podcasts about mythology, Harry Potter and comedy. She is also excited to fill up her time exploring bonnie Scotland by foot, train and boat.
Andrea grew up in a small town near Bergamo, located in the north of Italy. The interest in science and art characterizes his whole life ever since he was a child. He used to spend days creating objects or making videos. In 2011 he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychological Sciences and Techniques, at the same time, he graduated as a professional contemporary dancer in Milan and attended the “Arsenale della Danza” project at the Biennale of Venice. In 2014 he earned a Master’s in Clinical and Developmental Psychology and Neuropsychology at the University of Milano-Bicocca, followed by a one year fellowship at the CNR (National Research Council). He is currently working towards a PhD in Psychology, Linguistics and Cognitive Neuroscience at the same University, trying to combine the dance and neuroscientific worlds. He is interested in expertise-related differences in body perception, action coding, motor imagery and mental rotation between dancers and non-dancers. When he is not recording EEG from his volunteers, he likes dancing, practicing yoga and wandering with his reflex.
After moving around for a while, Michaela’s family settled in the outskirts of Inverness where she grew up and fell in love with pretty much everything the Highlands of Scotland have to offer – bonnie views, good hills to climb, ceilidhs and the occasional dram! After spending a year volunteering in Honduras, she moved to Glasgow to pursue her studies. A BSc in Human Biology, Psychology and Sociology gave Michaela a multidisciplinary background and led her to write a dissertation focussing on neurodevelopment in children raised in orphanages, triggering a fascination in neuroscience. She then went on to complete an MSc in Brain Science and worked primarily on a project exploring the relationship between anthropomorphism and Theory of Mind. Michaela now returns to the lab to work as a research technician with Ruud on the BIAL-foundation funded project mapping the socialness gradient in the brain. Specifically, we are looking at how people attribute socialness between groups in society and towards nonhuman entities through anthropomorphism and dehumanisation.
Merel Bekking is a contemporary product designer from The Netherlands. In 2012, she graduated from the Utrecht School of the Arts (NL). Merel likes to work on bigger design thinking projects involving cross-sector collaborations. These big research projects are more focused on questions rather than solutions or products. She collaborated with plastic producers, South African artists, traditional Sotho wavers, taxidermists and neuroscientists. Her work has been funded by the Creative Industries Fund NL, Creative Action Llandudno and the K. F. Hein Fonds, and is developed on her own initiative and in commission. Merel has exhibited and presented at the Milan Design Week, Dutch Design Week, DIY Berlin, the World Architecture Festival in Singapore, and more. Between 2015 and 2016 Merel was working and living in Cape Town (South Africa), and in the beginning of 2017 she relocated to Bangor, North Wales. Merel is very excited to be collaborating with the SoBA lab on the Social Robots project and work together on the exciting robotic petting zoo.
Photo credit: Jasper Timmermans
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Artist in Residence
SoBA Lab Muse
Riley, dancer with The Forsythe Company, comes from Bangor, Maine, in the USA. He currently resides in Frankfurt, Germany, where he dances for choreographer William Forsythe in The Forsythe Company. He has previously danced with The Netherlands Dance Theater 2, Bern Ballet and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. Riley attended The Walnut Hill School for the Arts and from there went on to receive his BFA from The Julliard School in New York. During his time at Julliard, he was awarded the prestigious Princess Grace Scholarship for emerging dance talent. He is fascinated by the mutually beneficial relationship between dance and neuroscience and looks forward to helping to find more links between the two. He is extremely honored to be the SoBA lab muse!
Photo credit: Dominik Mentzos
Bowie's story starts off in a filthy basement underneath a vet's practice, where he and his littermates were discovered by the RSPCA at the tender age of 8 weeks. Since that rough start, Bowie relocated to Wales, where he studies operant conditioning (to determine the least amount of effort required to receive a reward), theory of mind (to predict how much trouble he might get in if he steals a sausage off the bbq when no one is looking ) and comparitive cognition (to find answers as to why his feline housemates get away with murder while he is held to higher standards). Bowie's office hours are every other Wednesday (and the occasional Thursday). In his free time, Bowie enjoys watching David Attenborough nature documentaries and exploring the deepest mud puddles and most brackish seawater with his friends at K9 Cymru.
Social Dognition Representative
SoBA Lab Alumni
Isabella Gould (Glasgow MSc student in Psychology, 2018-19)
Katerina Manoli (Glasgow MSc student in Psychological Research, 2018-19)
Luca Marie Leisten (DAAD Summer Intern, 2019)
Hanna Seelemeyer (DAAD Summer Intern, 2019)
Martin Hoffmann (Erasmus+ Summer Intern, 2019)
Julia Fechner (Erasmus+ Summer Intern, 2019)
Aidas Aglinskas (Bangor MSc student in Neuroimaging, 2014-15)
Dan Alderley (Bangor MSc in Foundations in Clinical Psychology student, 2013-14)
Lauren Alpert (Columbia University Summer Intern, 2011)
Hannah Bargel (DAAD intern from Uni Lübeck, 2018)
Annabel Benjamin (Bangor MSc student, 2012-13)
Laura Bilbao-Broch (Donders Institute MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience student/intern, 2016-17)
Emily Butler (Bangor MSc student, PhD student & Postdoc, 2011-15)
Chu Chen (Bangor MSc student, 2012-13)
Kelvin Dawson (Bangor MSc in Psychological Research student, 2012-13)
Lina Davitt (Social Robots Project Manager, 2016-17)
Niamh Dickson (MSc in Psychological Research student, 2016-17)
Nadine Diersch (DAAD Postdoctoral Fellow, 2013-14)
Veronica Diveica (Bangor University Summer Intern, 2017)
Kim Drommelschmidt (Radboud University BSc Honors student, 2011-12)
Andreea Ducan (Bangor University special project intern, 2014-16)
Anastassia Elizarova (Bangor University special project intern, 2013-14)
Laurel Fish (Bangor University special project intern, 2014-15)
Tom Gardner (Bangor PhD student, 2012 - 2016)
Elena Giacomazzi (DAAD intern from Uni Osnabrück, 2017)
Harrison Goodall III (Pomona College Summer Intern, 2015)
Inez Greven (PhD student, 2013 - 2016)
Felix Hekele (Bangor Research Project Support Officer, 2016-17)
Malte Heyen (DAAD intern from Uni Osnabrück, 2017)
Alex Jones (Bangor Postdoc, 2013/2014)
Allison Kirkegaard (Pomona College Summer Intern, 2016)
Louise Kirsch (Bangor PhD student & Postdoc, 2011-15)
Mutindi Kithu (Bangor MSc in Neuroimaging student, 2015-16)
André Klapper (Radboud University MSc student, 2011-12)
Merle Koch (DAAD intern from Uni Osnabrück, 2016-17)
David Lilley (Bangor MSc student in Psychological Research, 2013-14)
Lucy McGarry (Ryerson University visiting PhD Student, 2013)
Jaydan Pratts (Bangor University MSc in Neuroimaging student, 2017-18)
Verónica Romero Ferreiro (visiting PhD student from Madrid, 2015)
Julia Scaife (Cardiff Intercalating medical student, 2011-12)
Nicky Smith (Bangor University Summer Intern, 2015)
Arielle Snagg (Pomona College Summer Intern, 2012)
Marie Sindermann (DAAD Intern from Uni Osnabrück, 2015-16)
Shaun Stone (Bangor MSc in Neuroimaging student, 2015-16)
Alexis Sweetman (Bangor MSc in Psychological Research student, 2011-12)
Simon Titone (Bangor MSc in Neuroimaging student, 2017-18)
Abigail Whitfield (Bangor MSc in Neuroimaging student, 2013-14)
Elin H. Williams (Bangor PhD student and Social Robots Project Manager, 2015-18)
Elliott Ward (Bangor MSc in Neuroimaging student, 2016-17)
Zach Woods (Bangor MSc student in Psychological Research, 2014-15)