Who got that job?

January 9, 2004

Dénes Szücs, 30

University Lecturer in Neuroscience and Education
Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
£23,296 - £35,950 pa

Job advertised in The THES , May 2 2003

A young Hungarian researcher wings his way to Cambridge University this week to join Usha Goswami, professor of education, in setting up the UK's first centre for neuroscience in education.

Dénes Szücs was selected to work with centre director Goswami on building a research team that will investigate the relationship between children's brain responses and their literacy and numeracy skills. All the applicants were from the US or Europe, but the shortlist was all-European.

Goswami says: "Neuroscientists are traditionally "hard" scientists working in medical school or science laboratories. Educational neuroscience is still fairly new, so there are not many sources of candidates. Europe has very good training centres for cognitive neuroscience based in psychology."

Cambridge was seeking someone prepared to cross disciplinary boundaries. The ideal candidate was a numeracy specialist to complement Goswami, whose research field is children's reading. Szücs was working at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences with brain-damaged adults whose numerical abilities were impaired.

He stood head and shoulders above the other candidates, Goswami says. After taking a degree in law at Miskolc University, he had switched to psychology at Budapest's Elte University. His specialism is number processing involving measuring the change in children's brain responses to selected stimuli.

The appointment, which was scheduled for October 1 last year, was postponed in part because of delays in the building of the new education faculty. "I didn't want him to arrive and twiddle his thumbs," Goswami says.

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