Keynotes 2012

Announcing Our Keynote Speakers for ATP Aston 2012

We are delighted to announce that our conference programme will host four exciting keynote speakers this year. In addition to Professor Robert Plomin, we are also fortunate to welcome Professor Gina Rippon, Aston University, Dr Fay Short, Bangor University and Professor Susan Michie.


Professor Robert Plomin






Robert Plomin is Professor of Behavioural Genetics at the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. He is best known for his work on twin studies and his research into the nature-nurture debate. He launched the Twins Early Development Study (TEDs) of all twins born in England and Wales in 1994-96 which focuses on developmental problems in cognition and behaviour.

During the past decade his research has increasingly turned towards harnessing the power of molecular genetics, especially genome-wide association strategies, to identify genes for psychological traits in order to help understand the developmental interplay between genes and environment. He is an international leader in behavioural genetics and was the youngest President of the Behavior Genetics Association.

Professor Plomin has published more than 500 papers and is senior author of the major textbook in the field (’Behavioral Genetics,’ Worth Publishers, 5th edition, 2008) as well as author of a dozen other books including ‘Genetics and Experience: The Interplay between Nature and Nurture’ (Sage Publications, 1994).

(thanks to the Kings College London website for biographical information)


Professor Gina Rippon, Aston University







Professor Rippon will be presenting her keynote lecture on: Say ‘No’ to Neurotrash: how to tell Neuronews from Neurononsense.

Advances in brain imaging techniques have led to some astonishing insights into the workings of the human brain. There has been an explosion of interest in the media and a genuine effort by the brain imaging community to make their findings as accessible as possible, particularly via beautiful colour coded brain ‘maps’.

However, the downside of this is that some worrying illusions/ delusions about what brain imagers can and can’t do are emerging. This talk will address this issue and try to provide some tips to use when reading the next over-enthusiastic article about ‘brain findings’, via considering questions such as: “Are brain imagers really mind readers?” “Is there a chocolate spot in the human brain?” “Can brain imagers identify terrorists?”

To find out more about Professor Gina Rippon and her research follow the links:


Dr Fay Short, Bangor University







Dr Short is a leading member of the Bangor Teaching Team and has previously had experience as an A Level Psychology teacher giving her an excellent insight into both pre-tertiary and HE. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Chartered Psychologist in the British Psychological Society Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers in Psychology. This year she was invited to join the Academy of Teaching Fellows at Bangor University in recognition of her excellence in teaching.

Her primary research interest is in the field of body representation and she was recently awarded the Young Investigator Award by the American Psychological Association in honour of her research in this area. She also conducts research in the field of education and is currently collaborating with tutors in a local college of further education to develop effective feedback methods for A Level students. She has also recently been awarded a grant to pilot a Learning Advisor program for International Students within the School of Psychology.

Dr Short’s keynote will explore a method of enhancing the student experience. Modern institutes are expected to raise grades yet maintain academic standards, ensure discipline yet foster a positive student experience. This talk is designed to explore one method of enhancing the student experience using the skills developed in the counselling sector. Dr Short will actively demonstrate counselling skills during the talk and explain how these skills can be used in the classroom to support learning.

This keynote lecture will be followed by workshop which will give delegates the opportunity to practice using the ideas presented in the lecture in a practical way within the classroom.


Professor Susan Michie, UCL





Professor Michie’s research is in the area of health psychology and health services, focusing on the design, delivery, uptake and impact of behaviour change interventions related to health. Her research investigating innovative methods for developing and evaluating behavioural interventions is conducted in two health domains: professional practice (e.g., the implementation of evidence-based guidelines, such as hand-hygiene amongst hospital staff), and risk factors amongst the general population (e.g., smoking, physical activity, preparing for pandemic flu).

Professor Michie’s keynote speech will focus on the following points:

  • Behaviour is central to health.
  • Managing our behaviour effectively is key to keeping ourselves healthy, managing illness and, in the case of health professionals, delivering high quality health care.
  • Changing behaviour is not easy and interventions to change health-related behaviours (amongst the general population, patients and health professionals) have had variable success
  • Evidence shows us that behaviour is not just the result of “choices” but of a host of more automatic processes such as emotion, cued responses and habit
  • Developing more effective interventions depends on understanding the nature of the target behaviour in context and designing interventions using evidence-based theories and techniques of behaviour change.
  • These points will be illustrated in relation to two serious health problems: pandemic flu and obesity.
  • Key behaviours in pandemic flu include those that reduce transmission such as respiratory and hand hygiene and prevent illness, such as vaccination uptake.  Key behaviours in obesity are physical activity and healthy eating but also behaviours that undermine people’s attempts at self-regulation, such as in the minimally regulated food industry and in retail strategies.