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Psychology expertise expands at Waikato

11 May 2020

The University of Waikato has expanded their expertise in psychology with the addition of four new specialists in the field.

Dr Amy Bird, Dr Aleea Devitt, Associate Professor Carol Choo and Associate Professor Taciano Milfont all joined the University’s School of Psychology earlier in the year.

Professor Vincent Reid, Head of the University’s School of Psychology, says each academic has experience in different fields of psychology, which will further enhance teaching, research and expertise within the school.

“Our expansion in clinical, cognitive, and environmental psychology highlights the importance that we place on these research areas,” says Professor Reid.

“This will feed into our teaching provision and allow us to consolidate our successes in Psychology, and highlight the growth and success of the School.”

Dr Amy Bird

Dr Bird is a lecturer in Clinical Psychology. She is a Registered Clinical Psychologist and has practiced clinically for over ten years in both New Zealand and Australia.  “It is incredibly rewarding to see young people and families take a different trajectory and to enjoy each other more.  To get to be a part of that journey is a real privilege” says Dr Bird.

Dr Bird has research interests in Developmental and Clinical Psychology with a particular interest and focus on parent-child relationships and interactions and the association of these with children’s social and emotional development. Dr Bird also has a long-standing involvement with Growing Up in New Zealand where she is co-Domain Leader of the Family and Whānau Research Theme.

Dr Aleea Devitt

Dr Devitt is a lecturer in Cognitive Psychology, with a specialist area of ageing and memory. She completed her PhD in Psychology at The University of Auckland and then spent four years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Professor Daniel Schacter’s Memory Lab at Harvard University in the USA.

Dr Devitt’s research examines the links between the future and the past – how we use memory to imagine future events, and in turn, how thinking about the future alters memory.

“By understanding how memory and imagination interact, we can develop ways of enhancing memory accuracy and well-being across our lifespan,” says Dr Devitt.

Associate Professor Carol Choo

Associate Professor Choo is a Registered Clinical Psychologist both in Australia and New Zealand.  Over the years, she has held various academic positions as Head of Programmes at SIM University, Director of the Psychology Wellness Centre at Central Queensland University, and Director of Professional Programmes at JCU. Associate Professor Choo has expertise in multi-disciplinary research across the fields of psychiatry, engineering, paediatric oncology and cardiology.

Her recent publications include quality of life, suicide, addictions and e-health. She is involved in international collaborations that have received ongoing external funding and her current research spans across mindfulness, brain hemodynamics, psychological assessment in culturally diverse populations, and mobile health application.

“I am looking forward to bringing in innovative aspects of clinical psychology to the programme,” says Associate Professor Choo.

Associate Professor Taciano Milfont

Associate Professor Milfont is a world leading expert in Environmental Psychology, and is based at the University’s Tauranga campus. He obtained his PhD (Social and Environmental Psychology) at The University of Auckland in 2007, and then worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Auckland’s School of Population Health, followed by twelve years at the Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Psychology.

He was one of the leading investigators of a 24-nation study on climate change actions and predictors of pro-environmental behaviour published in Nature Climate Change and of another study examining public views of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals published in Nature Sustainability. He is also a member of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, a longitudinal national probability panel survey of social attitudes, personality and health outcomes of more than 60,000 New Zealanders.

“I look forward to developing the field of environmental psychology further in Aotearoa New Zealand, and to helping grow the new Tauranga campus,” says Associate Professor Milfont.

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