Academic Staff Biographies

On this page you will find biographies from academic staff within PPLS to assist you in selecting a mentor. 

NameSubject AreaEmailBiography
Hannah RohdeLinguistics and English Languagehannah.rohde@ed.ac.ukI'm a linguist who works on experimental pragmatics, particularly how speakers choose to package information and how listeners read between the lines and infer intended meaning. I've done almost all of my work in collaborations with people near and far in departments of Linguistics, Psychology, and Computer Science. My trajectory includes a PhD in 2008, two postdocs, and then a lectureship starting here in Edinburgh in 2011; I became a Reader in 2017. I've enjoyed getting to live in several different places (UK/US/France/Israel), have had a couple babies along the way, and endured lots of household juggling and chaos with varying degrees of success. I vary between charmed astonishment that someone pays me to be an academic and the simultaneous indignation/confusion about how to stay on top of things. My roles within the school and Linguistics & English Language have included being director of the Cognitive Science undergraduate degree, LEL research director, and the current LEL postgraduate teaching director. I've recently become more involved in (impactful?) projects on medical communication.
Itamar KastnerLinguistics and English Languageitamar.kastner@ed.ac.ukI'm fairly junior for a senior mentor, having joined the university as a Lecturer in January 2020 after a post-doc stint in Berlin and a PhD from New York University in 2016. Checking my notes now, I see that during my four years on the academic job market I applied for 38 tenure-track/permanent positions, six visiting/post-doc positions, and two grants. In the span of these four years I was offered a total of two permanent positions (including this one), and I was ready to switch careers too. So as you can imagine, I have OPINIONS about the academic job market, but also a healthy degree of survivor's bias which I'd be happy to discuss with you.
We could also chat about juggling different methodologies (I do formal analysis in linguistics, experimental work and computational modelling), moving countries, the infamous Work/Life Balance, and anything else that might be helpful to you.
Pavel IosadLinguistics and English Languagepavel.iosad@ed.ac.ukI did my undergraduate degree in Moscow before moving to Tromsø, Norway for my PhD, then to Northern Ireland where I was a lecturer at the University of Ulster and finally to Edinburgh, where I was lecturer from 2013; I have been Senior Lecturer since 2019. I have moved countries with my family (including two young children) and faced the vagaries of different immigration systems, and am happy to offer a shoulder to cry on (if not immigration advice) to fellow family migrants. I have also worked in a range of institutions, not only research-intensive places with an international reputation but also universities with a strong local mission and a socioeconomically diverse intake, which has given me an insight into the transformative role of higher education.
Rob TruswellLinguistics and English Languagerob.truswell@ed.ac.ukI received my PhD from UCL in 2007, and worked as a post-doc (Tufts 2007-8, Edinburgh 2008-11), and assistant prof (Ottawa 2011-14) before returning to Edinburgh, first as Chancellor's Fellow, then Lecturer, and now Senior Lecturer. I work in syntax, semantics, and historical linguistics, and also have ties to the Centre for Language Evolution. I've moved multiple times since my PhD (in fact, my last six moves have all been transatlantic), and had to learn to balance work pressure with family (we have a young son and my wife has an invisible disability). Although I am a British citizen and my son is British by descent (born in Canada), my wife is an immigrant (American citizen) and I have some indirect experience through her of the additional difficulties that immigrants face here.
Sumin ZhaoLinguistics and English LanguageSumin.zhao@ed.ac.ukI am a discourse analyst with a specialism in social media discourses and early childhood digital literacies. I have a slightly atypical career path. I completed two independent post-doctoral fellowships in two different continents before I embarked on a “standard” academic career in the UK. I have also worked in an interdisciplinary environment, moving in and out of linguistics. I am happy to talk about the various pros and cons of pursuing an international academic career as a female migrant academic.
Vicky ChondrogianniLinguistics and English Languagev.chondrogianni@ed.ac.ukMy research focusses on understanding the differences and similarities in the development of grammatical and cognitive skills in bilingual children with typical development and language impairment. My research thus far has primarily focused on bilingual children from immigrant communities or speakers of minority languages (e.g. Welsh and Scottish Gaelic). I also work primarily on children with Developmental Language Disorder (also known as Specific Language Impairment). I use experimental methods such as production and online paradigms, incl. eye-tracking, to examine the relationship between bilingual development and language impairment. I did my PhD at the University of Cambridge and have worked in different UK institutions (Reading and Bangor), as well as abroad (Aalborg/Denmark, CUNY/USA). I joined Edinburgh as a lecturer in 2014 and I am a Senior Lecturer since 2017.
Beri MarušićPhilosophybmarusic@ed.ac.ukMy main research interests are in philosophy of mind, ethics, and epistemology, as well as in existentialism and the history of late modern philosophy. I have written a book on agency and am currently finishing a book on the temporality of emotions. I recently moved to the University of Edinburgh after teaching for 13 years at Brandeis University in the Boston area.
Fedor BenevichPhilosophyFedor.Benevich@ed.ac.ukI am a lecturer in Islamic philosophy. My area of expertise includes both classical and post-classical periods of the history of Islamic philosophy. My further research interests are in ancient and Latin medieval philosophy as well as contemporary metaphysics and epistemology. I joined the department in 2020. Before that, I studied and worked in Russia (St Petersburg) and Germany (Tübingen and Munich).
Michael CholbiPhilosophymcholbi@exseed.ed.ac.ukI am Chair in Philosophy, with research foci on the ethics of death and dying, work and labor, procreative and parental ethics, paternalism, Kantian moral thought, race and justice policy, and equality. A recovering American, I lived and worked in California from 2003 to 2020. I have a fairly extensive background in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), having formerly served as the editor of the primary SoTL journal in philosophy. I'm the first member of my family to pursue a traditional university path and enjoy assisting similarly situated students (and academics) to navigate academic culture. (More on me here: https://michael.cholbi.com/)
Suilin LavellePhilosophyj.s.lavelle@ed.ac.ukI am a lecturer in philosophy of mind and cognition. I joined the philosophy department in 2011 on fixed-term contract as a teaching fellow, and became a lecturer in 2013. My research interests are in philosophy of psychology, especially social cognition, and more recently, philosophical persepectives on the replication crisis. I'm particularly interested in understanding how different cultural approaches to the mind affect philosophical theories of cognition.
Caroline WattPsychologycaroline.watt@ed.ac.ukI am female, white, Scottish, aged 58, have two kids, working class background - educated at comprehensive school and first person in my family to go to University. My first degree is Psychology (Uni of St Andrews), and since then I have been working in Psychology dept at Uni of Edinburgh in parapsychology (scientific study of ostensibly paranormal beliefs and experiences). I started off in 1986 as a research associate, took a part-time PhD alongside, then became a Research Fellow (still on short-term contracts), then faced threat of redundancy in 2005 when my boss (previous parapsychology professor) died, and our research unit was 'restructured'. However in 2006 I was appointed to my first open-ended position as Senior Lecturer in Psychology, then in 2016 successfully applied for promotion to personal chair (Koestler Chair of Parapsychology). I have a lot of experience with academic life at Uni of Edinburgh; not so much experience with applying for grants to large-scale schemes.
Daniel MirmanPsychologydaniel.mirman@ed.ac.ukI study language and cognitive processing using experimental, neuroimaging, neuropsychological, and computational methods. A core part of my research philosophy is to try to answer fundamental questions in cognitive science and neuroscience in a way that has practical applications, such as new insights into language impairments and helping to develop better rehabilitation strategies. I am also committed to open science principles and improving rigour and reproducibility in cognitive neuroscience. My research projects are diverse and often involve interdisciplinary collaboration, working in teams with neurologists, data scientists, and artists (in addition to other psychologists). I teach about language processing, statistics, and cognitive neuroscience at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, doing my best to incorporate active, hands-on learning. I completed my training and the first part of my career in the USA, where I worked at a medical research institute (Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute) and different kinds of universities (Drexel University, University of Alabama at Birmingham), before moving to Edinburgh with my two young children.
Michelle LucianoPsychologymichelle.luciano@ed.ac.ukMy research focusses on finding genetic and environmental predictors of behaviour. In particular, I am interested in cognitive abilities (especially reading and language) and personality. My approach to research is very collaborative and I am involved in a number of international consortia. I have public engagement experience (including a live TV appearance on the BBC breakfast show!) and manage my own grants. My teaching aims to showcase local research, and keeps abreast with the fast developments in behaviour genetics. I am currently Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Director for the School, and played a key role in the School attaining a Bronze Athena SWAN award. Prior to starting out as a lecturer, I was a postdoc for 10 years (mostly on my own fellowships, here in Scotland and in my home country, Australia), and I have now progressed to Reader while enjoying life with a young family.
Patrick SturtPsychologypatrick.sturt@ed.ac.ukI did my PhD in Edinburgh at what was then called the Centre for Cognitive Science. After that, I moved to the University of Glasgow where I did a postdoc, followed by a lectureship and senior lectureship, before moving back to Edinburgh for my current Readership post at the Psychology department. My main teaching activities are related to psychology of language, research methods and statistics. In my research, I try to find answers to the question of how people combine different types of information during language comprehension and reading. My research projects are highly collaborative, and have involved partners from the UK as well as other countries around the world, including Italy, Korea and USA.
Sarah MacPhersonPsychologysarah.macpherson@ed.ac.ukMy research focuses on the understanding and assessment of frontal lobe functions, including executive functions, social cognition and memory, through the study of patients with focal frontal lobe lesions and dementia, as well as healthy adult aging. I did my PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology at the Department of Psychology, University of Aberdeen and then was a post-doc at Department of Psychology, University of Aberdeen and the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London. Since 2006, I have worked in the Psychology Department at University of Edinburgh, first as a Lecturer and then a Senior Lecturer. I have developed neuropsychologist tests (e.g., Cognitive Estimation Test, CET; MacPherson et al., 2014; Edinburgh Social Cognition Test, ESCoT: Baksh et al., 2018). I have co-authored, “The Handbook of Frontal Lobe Assessment” (2015) and co-edited the book, “Cases of Amnesia: Contributions to Understanding Memory and the Brain” (2019). I am an Associate Editor for the journals Cortex and Neuropsychology. I also represent the British Neuropsychological Society on the Federation of Societies of Neuropsychology and am a Board Member on the International Neuropsychological Society. My roles in PPLS have included Psychology Exam Board Convenor, PPLS Undergraduate Director, and PPLS QA Director. And I've done all this while raising my family.
Sergio Della SallaPsychologysergio@ed.ac.ukI have studied and worked in different places (Milan, Italy; Berkeley, CAL; Cambridge, UK; Aberdeen, UK; Perth, AU). I am a clinical neurologist by training, and have practiced medicine for several years before swapping to science within Psychology. My research is mainly focussed on Human Cognitive Neuroscience. In particular, I am interested in cognitive disorders, like amnesia. I have published over 600 peer reviewed papers. I am editor in chief of Cortex, fellow of the Royal Society (Edinburgh), and President of CICAP, an organisation aimed at disseminating science to laypeople. I have experience in dealing with the media, in science dissemination writing and in events engaging the public (I was awarded the first UoE Tam Dalyell prize for Excellence in Engaging the Public with Science). I am involved in several international collaborations and in my career I have managed a number of grants. In my teaching, I try to actively involve the students, independently of their level in career. I am currently chair of the Ethics committee in Psychology.
Steve LoughnanPsychologysteve.loughnan@ed.ac.ukI received my PhD from University of Melbourne, and since then conducted post-doc work in Europe (UK, Belgium), Australia, and North America (Canada). I was a post-doctoral fellow for around 6 years. I joined the psychology department as a lecturer in 2014 and moved to Reader in 2018. I work in social psychology, increasingly examining our relationship with animals. During my career I have relocated multiple times, confronted the two-body problem, and raised a young family. I have supervised post-doctoral fellows and career research assistants and helped place PhD students into careers inside and outside of academia.
Tom BoothPsychologytom.booth@ed.ac.ukI am currently a senior lecturer and Teaching Director in Psychology. My MSc and PhD were in Organisational Psychology at Manchester Business School. My primary research interests span individual differences, health and work, with a strong quantitative focus. At the moment I spend much of my time teaching research methods, something that I get a huge amount of satisfaction from. Teaching students material they find challenging can be difficult, but it is also highly rewarding to see them develop and succeed.

I also have a strong interest in academic management and administration, which I think makes me a somewhat unusual academic!

I was the second person in my family to go to University (my older sister beat me to it), and the first to take higher degrees. I was lucky enough through my MSc and PhD to be awarded scholarships, without which I am unsure I would be here now. For PhD, my funding was part of the ESRC Advanced Quantitative Methods scheme. In many ways this solidified early the value I place is robust methodology - whatever that may be within different fields.