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Lauren Heathcote

I fell into psychology whilst studying for a BSc in Sociology at the University of Sussex, and taking psychology courses as electives. I promptly persuaded the Sussex faculty to let me switch to a full BSc in Experimental Psychology, and quickly established a passion for the ‘science of mental life.’ After graduating, as I was still unsure which area to specialise in, I decided to apply for the MSc in Psychological research at Oxford. This appealed to me as it enabled further investigation of broad areas of psychology, and provided the opportunity to achieve an esteemed qualification and make contacts with world-leading scientists. I began the course in October 2010, during which I conducted high impact research in psycholinguistics under expert supervision, and established working relationships with leading scientists across a variety of disciplines. Since completing the course my career in psychological research has sky rocketed. I attained a Research Assistant position in paediatric psychopathology at the department in April 2012, and have subsequently been awarded a place on the DPhil course this year, for which I will be researching paediatric chronic pain.  

In addition to the opportunities provided by the masters course, studying at Oxford has also opened up life changing opportunities outside of the department. For example, I recently trained as a Schools Science Ambassador for Oxfordshire, conducting presentations and workshops with young people in the community. Two recent examples of this are an interactive workshop on cognitive enhancing drugs, and a ‘Build-a-Brain’ workshop at the Barbican centre in London. This July I will also be working as a summer school neuropsychology teacher, helping to spark excitement about science in young people from 40 countries around the world. In addition, I have pursued science communication opportunities, working as web editor-in-chief of Bang! Science, Oxford’s leading science magazine.

In my spare time, I participate in salsa and yoga classes in the city centre, and can regularly be found on stage at Open Mic nights.  I am also an avid traveller, using the time after my masters to spend five months backpacking on a round-the-world ticket. I was even able to interview for my Research Assistant position from a hostel in New Zealand. Before starting my DPhil, I’m hoping to spend two months volunteering with children and climbing mountains in South America. I am privileged to be able to visit such amazing places, and to belong to a department that have been entirely supportive of my choices to pursue both science and travel. Nevertheless, I feel that I have now firmly found my home in the city of dreaming spires.