Buzzing with caffeine and science

October 19, 2007

Name: Neil Stewart

Age: 33

Job: Reader in psychology, Warwick University Salary: £41,500

What's your practical training? I studied natural sciences as an undergraduate at Cambridge University. I had intended to take physics and also tried chemistry. I took a psychology option in my second year, realised it was brilliant, and switched. I came to Warwick about ten years ago for my PhD and have failed to leave mainly because it's a pretty good place.

What are your working hours? Random. An average day might begin at about 10.30 with a swim, over to the office to meet some people, followed by lunch - then mounting guilt leading to a late-night work binge after dinner.

What is your department like? When I came in the other day it felt pretty exciting. There was quite a buzz, a real feeling of science happening. The university is growing, so there are lots of new people about in the corridors.

What is your office like? Full of big green plants, piles of papers and empty Coke cans. I am moving over to Jolt Cola in the new year.

What is your biggest challenge this year? Preparing for the Experimental Psychology Society Prize Lecture in January. It is an honour to be awarded the prize and I will try to deliver an excellent lecture.

And how will you meet that challenge? Guilt-and-anxiety-related work binges. But it shouldn't be too hard because I really enjoy my job and have a load of new computers to crunch numbers for me.

What was the worst moment of your university career? Constantly explaining that psychology is not about sitting on sofas, being complicated, and that examining our feelings can become annoying. But the worst moments have to be when a paper that has taken literally years to prepare is rejected. Being an academic is about dealing with constant rejection, and the constant hope only makes it worse.

Do you socialise with people at work? Yes. The Warwick beer festival is coming.

Best excuse you've had for bad behaviour? After a vigorous criticism of my latest work, one of my colleagues claimed to have "academic Tourette's".

Who are the most difficult people you deal with? Technically, I can't say.

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