• Lois Player

  • Theme:Transport, Behaviour and Society
  • Project:Understanding, Predicting and Facilitating the Public Acceptability of Environmental Transport Policies Across Demographic Groups
  • Supervisor:Lorraine Whitmarsh
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Lois graduated from her BSc in Psychology at the University of Bath with First Class Honours in 2020. Lois developed a keen interest in environmental psychology when she worked for Bath Council on their Clean Air Zone implementation project. Since then, Lois has worked with several other local councils (e.g., Cornwall and Bristol City Councils), conducting research to help them implement new transport policies and reduce car dependency. Broadly, Lois' research seeks to understand and remove the barriers to support of transport climate policies, using a variety of novel methodologies. Lois is also interested in facilitating a ‘just transition’ in climate action, by considering minority, vulnerable groups in environmental research. Lois is passionate about her work having real-life implications, for policies and the public.

Research Journey: Year 1

Prior to beginning the MRes, I had very little understanding of the automotive or transportation sector, or any background in engineering. After finishing my BSc in Psychology, it was a substantial step change, and steep learning curve. However, the cohort and staff were incredibly supportive, and saw the genuine value psychology could add to this field. I learnt about the current issues and state of the automotive landscape, including the transition from combustion-powered vehicles to more sustainable methods of propulsion, as well as changes to the broader transportation system such as mobility as a service and active transport.

Whilst at times I found the assignments difficult to fit into from a psychological perspective, the lecturers and other cohort members were helpful in helping me overcome this. Further, staff listened to my concerns about adapting the course around non-engineers, and changes were made to accommodate this. For example, the cohort were set an initial challenge of evaluating the propulsion system of the Toyota Plug-In Hybrid. However, I wanted to work upon the driver feedback system, which fell more into the general vehicle design rather than the propulsion system itself. The course leaders saw the value in my project, and decided to allow us as a team, to more holistically evaluate the vehicle. During this project, I also explored an area of psychology that I had never studied before, surrounding multimodal feedback, decision making and reaction times. This experience, amongst others during the year, definitely made me a better general psychologist. This is especially since I was the only psychologist on my course, so often needed to provide a quite generalist psychologist viewpoint.

I think one of my favourite parts of the MRes year was learning about how my discipline fit in with others. For example, learning about how the development of autonomous vehicles very much relies upon an understanding of human attention, alongside all the technology. Because I was continually communicating with other disciplines, I think my way of communicating psychological concepts became much clearer - something that will be useful in future science communication. These skills came in useful when applying for a Public Engagement grant, which I was awarded to work on Liveable Neighbourhoods in Bath. Generally, I enjoyed the applied nature of the course, even though this was entirely new to me, and challenging at times. During the Integrative Think Tanks (ITT), I really enjoyed applying my knowledge - which at first may seem unrelated - to real industry problems. A particular highlight for me was during the ITT with National Express, who were genuinely excited about my idea to cater training and technology to individuals with sub-clinical traits (e.g. autistic, ADHD, dyslexic).

My summer project allowed me the opportunity to use data I had collected as a research assistant, looking at public acceptability of Clean Air Zones, in particular in Bath. The freedom to work on one project with no distractions for 3 months, with regular checkins with AAPs, allowed me to learn many new skills along the way. For example, I learnt new statistical techniques and started learning how to code in R, to conduct some complex statistical analyses. These skills have prepared me well for the PhD phase.

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