Clea is a DPhil student in Experimental Psychology, based at the Crossmodal Research Laboratory led by Professor Charles Spence, at the Department of Experimental Psychology. Her research focuses on the effect of social associations on our perceptual and cognitive processes and actions.
Taking a rather unusual path to academia, Clea originally studied music (which was followed by a career in the music industry, writing soundtracks and working as a producer). She came to Psychology latterly, inspired by certain life events and with an aspiration to pursue a career in academic psychology and public outreach. After completing a Master's degree in Psychology, she worked as an intern and then Research Assistant (RA) in the Cognitive Neuropsychology Centre, here at Oxford, gaining experience in the experimental and cognitive neuroscience branches, and was subsequently accepted on to the DPhil course. She is currently approaching her third year. See the link in the bar to view her latest publication.
She chose Oxford because her passion for her topic had grown exponentially during her time as an RA, and while developing her thesis proposal the opportunity arose to be supervised by one of the leading researchers in psychology, who was also a remarkable mentor and educator. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance and so she did not hesitate to apply. In general, of course, the invigorating and inspiring academic atmosphere at Oxford, and the resources, and networking opportunities are second-to-none.
On her application she chose Wolfson College specifically because many members of the Cognitive Neuropsychology Centre were based here so she felt she would be well-supported in her field, and she had already become familiar with the college during her time as a research assistant and learnt that it had a particularly open-minded, welcoming and inclusive environment. The ambiance is intellectual and quietly ambitious, but at the same time not overtly or overly competitive. Alongside the supportive and friendly staff (who she has found have been a joy to work with), these characteristics have made it a very pleasant environment to study and live in.
Graduate study at Oxford also encourages diversity and a well-rounded education, and is consequently also extremely well set-up for extracurricular activities. Students are spoilt for choice with the Oxford Union talks, numerous daily events, concerts, and seminars to attend, and the social, sporting, and special-interest clubs to cater for everyone. At Wolfson, there are many opportunities to try new things. Clea personally has joined rowing club training sessions, tried squash for the first time with free group classes kindly offered by another student, and started learning Italian. Around a typical DPhil schedule at Oxford (at least, in psychology), however, her advice is to sample new things or focus on a favorite, but in moderation.
Living on campus has also been a unique experience with the beautiful calming views of green and water, the punt harbour, and countryside setting and yet still close to the city centre. After an average day of study at your department, you can return to Wolfson and, for example, play squash or tennis, take a fitness or mindfulness class, attend a barbecue, pop to the gym, dine in hall, rehearse in the music rooms, meet friends in the café, common rooms or bar, or just take some time to sit on the 'thinking bench' near the punt harbour, and much more.