- Mariam Aljunied - Ministry of Education in Singapore
Mariam Aljunied obtained her MSc in Educational Psychology and later PhD in Psychology from UCL in 1995 and 2006 respectively.
Her training at UCL enabled her to work actively as an Educational Psychologist with the Ministry of Education in Singapore.
The balanced emphasis between research and professional practice in the training at UCL was useful when she took on other portfolios in the Ministry, e.g. Assistant Director for Psychological Assessments and Research.
Currently, as the Ministry's Principal Specialist in Educational Psychology, Mariam leads in the development and implementation of national policies and practices for students with special educational needs.
Through her continued networking with UCL, she has initiated several professional collaborations between the Ministry and UCL's Educational Psychology Department.
- Fatos Berisha - Customer Lead at iRise
I now work as a Customer Lead at iRise, a medium-sized enterprise behind an innovative platform that helps organisations build better applications and software.
My role is to design and direct demonstration/proof-of-concept activities with prospective customers and manage strategic customer accounts, across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
My career in this industry started just before I got my Ph.D. in early 2009, beginning at Capgemini as a Junior Business Analyst and continuing at CGI (formerly Logica) as a UX/UI Lead.
The degree earned at the Psychology Department at UCL proved to be a key differentiator and most probably essential to my career progression – specifically, by providing me with expert knowledge of aspects of human visual perception that gave me an important edge in my early UX/UI, human- computer interaction, and systems design roles, and more generally through the exposure to and collaboration with so many talented people and cutting-edge research teams that imprinted on me their exceptional work ethic, high standards, and a singular drive in the pursuit of excellence.
- Jack Hobday - Co-Founder & Director of Anspach & Hobday Microbrewery
I was awarded my BSc Psychology in 2010, and I am now Co-Founder & Director at Anspach & Hobday - a Microbrewery & Brewery Tap based in Bermondsey, London.
I started the business with Paul Anspach (a King’s Alumnus!) after we successfully developed our brewing skills at home. The business has been running for three years and the company now employs 6 people, including a current UCL undergraduate in his second year studying Pharmacology.
One of my lecturers in the Psychology Department, Dr Keith Langley, encouraged me to start home-brewing. He suggested it would save me some money! At the time I was also considering applying for a PhD in a complex area of Psychology called area called Visual Psychophysics – Dr Langley’s area of expertise, but I’m afraid the brewing bug had taken hold.
UCL helped teach me how to learn effectively. Once you have that skill you can put your mind to anything. And whilst some people are surprised my background is Psychology, and not business or biochemistry, it certainly helps in business if you have an interest in understanding how people think - companies and business relationships are really about people after all. Psychology, also gives you a great set of tools in learning how to empirically explore statistics and model theories based on your results. Creating a business model and projections based on results shares similar foundations and logic.
One of my memorable moments as a student at UCL was probably in a lecture in the third year before our finals, Professor David Shanks summed up the key to a successful memory: Repeated efforts at recall. That’s worth remembering.
My proudest career moment since leaving UCL is probably when Paul and I entered our home-brewed Porter into the International Beer Challenge - a professional blind-tasted competition for brewers. We were desperate to gain credibility and distance ourselves from being seen as just ‘enthusiastic amateurs’. The business had only just been incorporated and we had each invested £250 into the bank account. The entry into the competition had cost £350 of that £500. So it was a real vote of confidence in ourselves and our belief in this future business – we went on to win a silver medal! It was a big investment of company money but it was an investment that paid off. We decided that if we could not back ourselves how could we expect anyone else to.
Having been a part of UCL is to have something in common with some of the greatest minds past and present. After you have been through that experience you humbly hope you have learnt a little from them too. I think looking at some of the other alumni and realising I was attending the same brilliant university was quite an inspiration too.
The most exciting thing for me now is to think how I can give back to UCL (and hopefully save others from wasting their student loans on bad beer!). I have an ambition that we will setup a ‘UCaLe’ brewed by students for the students. It’s development could involve multiple disciplines, and it would be served at events and of course at the uni bars. Part of the profits of its sale could go towards a stipend for psychology graduates working at the department or perhaps a grant for paid work experience at our brewery – watch this space!
- Christine Ohuruogu - Olympian and International Athlete
Christine Ohuruogu, Olympian and international athlete, obtained her BA in Linguistics in 2005. She has competed in four Olympic Games, winning three Olympic medals and is the World 400m Champion 2007 and 2013.
In her own words, Christine talks about her time at UCL:
"I came to UCL many years ago because ultimately out of all the universities I picked, UCL was the only London one and my father wanted me to stay in London.
I think coming to UCL was probably the best decision I could have made for my life at the time and for my life now. It was in coming here that I realised how much I loved my city and loved what London had to offer.
I really enjoyed my course and studying here. I really enjoyed being part of the UCL community and watching the different and many brilliant people that pass though the UCL doors and the people that are still coming out today. I’m really happy that I chose UCL.
UCL was the only London university I picked on my UCAS form. All the other universities I picked were a variety of English Literature and Language courses, which I thought was what I wanted to do at the time, but I realised once I got to do my linguistics degree that was exactly what I wanted to do without really knowing what the name of the degree was – that was exactly me and right up my street. The other degrees that I’d selected at the other universities - I don’t think they would have been able to match what I did at UCL.
I think UCL was where my passion for language was born. The degree I chose was the best one out of the six that I’d picked."
- Susan Zhuang - Senior User Experience Designer at POKE London
I was awarded my BSc in Psychology in 2011 and my MSc in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) with Ergonomics in 2012.
I am now a Senior User Experience (UX) Designer at POKE London, where I use insights about human behaviour and cognition to design products and services that are intuitive to use, meaningful, useful, and engaging.
All the theoretical and practical knowledge, skills and experience I picked up at UCL have helped me in my career in UX in some way or another. Particularly helpful was the strong encouragement from the department to publish our student projects in academic journals; its strong connections to industry exposing us to not only the academic side of the field but the commercial side as well; and the strong emphasis on practical group work and collaboration across both Psychology and HCI.
PALS as a division and its world-leading focus on very diverse fields within cognitive science allowed me to discover the field of HCI early on during my undergraduate degree, and subsequently UX as a discipline in industry.
Moreover, UCLIC’s excellent and progressive research capabilities within HCI made me discover the plethora of real-world technological applications cognitive psychology can have, ranging from medical equipment to interactive museum exhibitions to web interfaces – fuelling my ambition to help design a better world.
Of many of my most memorable moments as a student at UCL was probably when we entered one of our group projects during my MSc – involving the research, design and prototype of an interactive tactile device – into the CHI Student Design Competition. It was picked out for the semi-finals and allowed us all to travel to the CHI conference in Austin, Texas to present it. It was so fantastic to see and hear all these HCI rock stars we’d all been studying, including Don Norman and Ben Shneiderman, and to be exposed to the cutting edge of research and engineering within HCI.
Every time a product or service I’ve worked on goes to market and users tell us how useful it is or how easy it is to use or how it’s just a delightful experience to them, I feel proud of what I do for a living. I’m also very proud of how quickly I’ve advanced in my career, being exposed to a wide variety of clients – ranging from the promising start-ups to massive global brands -, being given lots of responsibility early on, and having grown massively as a human being as a result.
I love being a UCL alumna because of the truly global network of friends I have ended up with. Moreover, the immense diversity of the entire UCL experience – from the types of subjects taught, to the cultural experiences London offers, to the different perspectives on life, arts, sciences, politics, religion the diversity of UCL allows has significantly shaped my world view. Being a UCL alumna makes me open minded towards, able to think critically about, and empathetic to other individuals, societies, cultures, and ideas.
Every year we send out a PALS newsletter to our community. You can read PALS newsletters from previous years here:
- PALS Alumni Newsletter - March 2019
- A word from new Head of Division Peter Fonagy to PALS Alumni (2017)
- Prof Sophie Scott talks about her time at PALS (2017) pdf
- PALS Alumni Newsletter - October (2016) pdf
If you are a PALS alumni make sure you get our newsletters by registering for the UCL Online Community.