Dr Lynn McInnes is a Director of Education in the Department of Psychology. Part of this role is assuring the quality of the degree programmes we offer. This covers quality of assessments, modules, programmes and working with other staff on the strategic plans for the department regarding teaching and learning.

Tell us abour your career history

In September of 2021 I will have been at Northumbria University for 24 years. I achieved my undergraduate degree from Newcastle University and my PhD from Manchester University. After my PhD I was able to secure research posts for a few years working on a longitudinal study of ageing at Manchester and Newcastle Universities before joining Northumbria University as a Senior Lecturer and then becoming an Associate Professor.

What got you into psychology?

I took an eclectic mix of A-levels as I was not sure what I wanted to do when the time came to make A-level choices, so I tried to keep my options open. I had always had an interest in medicine but the thought of another 5 years of studying was off-putting so when I heard about a three-year degree in psychology it appealed as it offered me a new way to study people and behaviour. My degree and PhD ended up taking six years to complete.

What was the topic of your PhD?

The title of my PhD was “The efficiency of age and intelligence as predictors of spatial memory”. I was supervised by the wonderful Professor Patrick Rabbitt who introduced me to the world of research, the highs and lows of writing papers and research grants, attending conferences around the world and meeting experts about cognitive ageing.

What are your main research areas now?

I have continued studying ageing by looking at what aspects of cognitive functioning change with age. This has developed into studying ageing and health, well being and mobility. Most recently I have worked with colleagues in the department studying hoarding behaviour, especially hoarding exhibited by older adults.

Tell us about one psychology book that you would recommend?

My undergraduate project was about autobiographical memory. I asked people about their first memories and examined how these were elated to age and intelligence. A book that inspired me at the time was Memory Observed: Remembering in Natural Contexts by Ulric Neisser and Ira Hyman and I still would class it among my favourite psychology books.

What piece of advice would you give to students?

Make the most of whatever opportunities come your way. Put effort into everything you do and you will reap the rewards.

Try to remember that your degree is not just about the marks you achieve, but also enjoying the whole learning and social experience.

What would you have liked to do if you had not followed your career in psychology?

I would have loved to be a travel agent, an air hostess or an editor of a travel magazine. I love travelling and taking photographs so a job that allowed me to do those activities would have been perfect.

What do you do outside of work?

As I noted above, I love travelling and taking photographs. I enjoy creating albums of photos and can be relied upon to be able to find holiday photos of years ago, long before social media existed, to have a laugh about them with friends and family.

I also enjoy reading; I am currently enjoying a series of murder mysteries set in the North East of England by L J Ross. I also love working in my garden and hiking in the Lake District.

I have a 20-year-old son at university, and he and his friends are giving me great insights into how the student brain works.

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