Hi – I grew up fascinated by the natural world, particularly in animals.
I was always walking around in the parks near my home, and in the woods and fields, looking for stuff.
When I was a bit older, after I left school, I saved up to go traveling in Latin America. I visited lots of tropical forests and saw lots of amazing animals and very interesting people. I think that just made me realise that I wanted to work directly studying these environments and trying to understand why they are disappearing.
Like many things in life there was alot of luck involved. Although I have always been fascinated by robots I didn’t actively want to study them until I came to UWE 20 years ago. I was lucky then because firstly I had a chance to set up a new research group, and secondly I met 2 other people who were also interested in robots. Together we started the robotics lab. We were also lucky because we managed to win the money (grants) to do robot research projects – without the funding the lab would have been very short lived.
Then, during the last 20 years my interest in robotics has changed, so that now I’m much more interested in basic scientific questions, like what is intelligence, how do animals evolve, how does culture emerge and so on, and use robots to try and answer (in a small way) those questions. So what makes me want to study robots now is a deep interest in some of the big questions of life.
I’ve always liked sciency stuff (except horrible physics!) and I was always interested to hear science stories in the news like I remember when the cloned Dolly the sheep and I was just like “wow, that’s amazing, how is that possible?!”. So that’s how I ended up going to uni and studying Chemistry. And then while I was studying my Granny was diagnosed with cancer and she got chemotherapy, but it made her really weak and she died very suddenly. So I decided I wanted to study cancer research. Loads of families have been affected by cancer and I just wanted to do something to try and help. I don’t think I am brainy enough to figure out how to stop people from getting cancer, but I want to do something that is useful and will hopefully help people somehow.
Sorry for the sad story, I thought it was best to tell the truth.
I hope you have lots of fun with “I’m a Scientist” – ask loads of difficult questions!
It started out as an accident (lots of things do). During my psychology degree, the course on developmental psychology (the psychology of growing up) was by far my favourite. The ultimate aim of psychology is to explain how your mind works when you are grown up. But, adults are too complicated so I decided to study babies. (Babies are more fun too.) What do i mean by complicated?
By the time we are grown up so much has happened to us that it is hard to know what caused it all. Imagine if you are good at languages, is this because it is in your genes, was it your home environment, was it because you had some good teachers? maybe it was some combination..
maybe, you were quite good at languages because you came from a home where several different languages were spoken so that made you enjoy language lessons more at school which meant you spent more time and effort learning languages which made you even better. The same could be true with music or sport or almost anything.
Another problem psychologists have when studying adults is that adults either lie too much or try to be too helpful. They try to guess what you want them to say or do and then either try to disguise their answers or try or try to tell you what you want to hear.