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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Travel Grant Report by Dorottya Lantos

01.08.2019, by Tina Keil in grant report

Goldsmiths, University of London; Visit to the Molenberghs Social Neuroscience Lab, Melbourne, Australia

Dr Fiona Kumfor and Dorottya Lantons
Dr Fiona Kumfor and Dorottya Lantons

I am currently entering the final year of my PhD studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. In my research I focus on intergroup processes, more specifically on the ways in which we can prevent the escalation of intergroup conflict and violence. I am very interested in using neuroscience methods and strongly believe that interdisciplinary research holds a great potential in shedding light to important research questions. In particular, I am fascinated by social neuroscience.

I was honoured to be offered the opportunity to visit the Molenberghs Social Neuroscience Lab, directed by Dr Pascal Molenberghs, located at The University of Melbourne. During my 3-month-long research stay in Australia, I had the chance to get some hands-on experience in data collection using fMRI at the Melbourne Brain Centre. Remarkably, I had the fantastic opportunity to collect data using a 7T scanner – while previously I only had access to 1.5T or 3T scanners.

I further gained much experience in the analyses of neuroimaging data. We are currently finalising the manuscript of our research investigating the neural mechanisms of intergroup threat and reconciliation, and hopefully we will be submitting it for publication shortly. Due to the rarity of fMRI research, the costs associated with it, and the highly specialized skill-set required for both the design and the analysis of such studies, this was a very special learning experience.

During the final days of my stay, I had the chance to present my research conducted with Dr Molenberghs at the annual conference of the Australasian Society for Social and Affective Neuroscience. I am proud that I received an award from the society for the Best Datablitz Presentation!

Besides the time I spent at the stunning campus of The University of Melbourne or the Melbourne Brain Centre, I also had some time to travel along the East coast of Australia, and visited the states of New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania as well. The nature and wildlife in Australia is truly breath-taking, and I cannot wait to go back to explore the parts of the country that I did not have time for on this occasion!

I am so grateful to Dr Molenberghs, who was a very patient and thoughtful mentor, and besides his guidance with academic-related matters and statistical analyses, also went out of his way to make sure that I had a great time in Australia. I am thankful to EASP for awarding me a travel grant, supporting this 3-month-long research stay, which was not only extremely valuable for my professional development, but also allowed me to make life-long friends and memories!