Prof. Daniel Frings, collaborative research in Psychology
How the collaborative atmosphere at LSBU not only helps our students to develop, but guides our academic research too
When Prof. Daniel Frings, Professor of Social Psychology, is asked what he most enjoys about working at LSBU, his answer requires little thought. "Every day is a fresh challenge," he says. "There's always the chance to learn something new, as well as teaching others. It's a great environment for research and a fantastic mix of students, which can lead to a lively teaching atmosphere."
It's an environment that Daniel credits with helping to direct his research as a social psychologist. "One good example would be an in-class discussion about what it means to be 'British', and also what it means to be a 'student'," he says. "It really kickstarted one of the projects I am now working on."
Working in a collaborative way
The majority of Daniel's research is undertaken as part of the Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research group. "Between us, we study a wide range of topics around addictive behaviour," he explains. "It ranges from smoking and alcohol use to food addictions and gambling. We work in a very collaborative way and involve our students in all areas of the research."
One example that Daniel highlights as demonstrating how the group works is work by a PhD student looking at the role of social identity in recovering addicts. "It's an area that more and more researchers are finding interesting," he says, "so I'm really looking forward to studying it in the future."
Fields of investigation
Collaboration is something that Daniel holds dear to his heart. "The psychologists who inspire me most are the ones who cut across fields of investigation," he elaborates. "They cover a broad range of behaviours and bring theories and concepts from one area to bear on another. At LSBU, I feel lucky to be working alongside people who not only do this, but also explain their work in a way that is easily understandable as well as being very accurate and detailed."
As well as recognising the importance of research that cuts across different areas, Daniel also feels that it is important to get out of the laboratory and into applied environments. "LSBU is home to some fantastic facilities and a great range of specialist equipment in our Psychology Laboratories," he says. "We can track eye movements and cardiac reactivity, which opens doors to new ways of thinking about behaviour and cognition. But what's best of all is the way that the work we do can be applied, so our students don't just know the theory but can put it into practice as well."
Our bar laboratory is another example of how LSBU provides opportunities for cutting-edge research, and Daniel is proud of the way in which students contribute to the research that he and his colleagues conduct. "Students are able to volunteer to take part in some of the experiments we run, but their involvement goes much deeper than that," he says. "I have project students contributing to an ongoing program of research into alcohol and other addictive behaviours, and when the interests of students and academic meet up, it creates a real buzz – and the resulting research is often exceptional."
That opportunity is not limited to PhD students, however, and Daniel and his colleagues are keen to involve students at all levels. "At present we have three or four papers that are under review where undergraduate students were significantly involved and are named as authors," he says. "It's really inspiring when undergraduate and postgraduate students are producing work of such high quality that it is recognised as a meaningful contribution to science and accepted for peer-reviewed publication."