Professor Manos Tsakiris, Department of Psychology, has been elected as an ordinary member of Academia Europaea, an organisation of individual scientists and scholars, covering the full range of academic disciplines. Being elected as a member is an exceptional honour that recognises the international and interdisciplinary quality of his research and contribution to cutting-edge neuropsychology. We recently caught up with Professor Tsakiris to congratulate him and ask how it felt be a member of the Academy.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role within the Department of Psychology?
I joined Royal Holloway in 2007, and was promoted to Professor in 2013. At Royal Holloway, I lead the Lab of Action & Body. At my lab, we investigate how neurocognitive mechanisms that shape the experience of embodiment and self-identity, and more recently we have been expanding this line of research in the role that the body plays in cultural, social and political behaviors. In parallel, since 2016, I have been the Director of Research and REF lead at the Psychology Department and in that role, together with my colleagues at the Research Committee, we have been focusing on further developing our international research excellence, alongside the excellent teaching that we offer to our students.
2. Congratulations on being elected as an ordinary member of Academia Europaea, can you tell us a bit about what they do?
The Academia Europaea was founded in 1988, and is the pan-European Academy of Humanities, Letters, Law, and Sciences. The aim of the academy is advancement propagation of excellence in scholarship in the humanities, law, the economic, social, and political sciences, mathematics, medicine, and all branches of natural and technological sciences anywhere in the world for the public benefit and the education of people. For that, the Academy is actively promoting European research, advising governments and international organisations in scientific matters, and supports interdisciplinary and international research.
3. How does it feel to have been elected?
I am grateful to my international colleagues who nominated me and supported my election to the Academia Europaea. It is a great honour to become a member of the Academy especially at times when we all realize the importance of sciences and humanities in addressing the various challenges that humankind and our world are facing. The success of our efforts critically depends on cross-border international research collaborations. The Academia Europaea plays a crucial role in overcoming divisions and borders, bringing together more than 4,000 members from Europe and across the world, and I hope I will be able to contribute to the Academy’s mission.
4. What research are you working on at the moment?
Since 2016, I have been leading the interdisciplinary Body & Image in Arts & Science (BIAS) project at the Warburg Institute where we investigate the performative and political power of visual culture. Since 2017, and thanks to a European Research Council Consolidator Grant, my lab at Royal Holloway develops the INtheSELF project that investigates how the processing and awareness of internal bodily signals, such as signals from our heart shape cognition in general, and in particular the ways in which we process information about ourselves and other people.
5. How are you keeping yourself busy outside of work currently?
I try to read as much as I can outside of my area of expertise as I have decided to write my first book on the role of physiology and emotion for political behaviour. At the same time, I try to spend as much time as I can with my son, and I am coaching a football team of U7s at Queen’s Park.
6. We’re all missing campus and a regular view of Founder’s at the moment, what is your favourite thing about working at Royal Holloway?
The thing I miss most is the social interaction with my colleagues, lab members and students. Even though we all adapted fast and efficiently in the new online media of MS Teams, I find these to be tiring and impoverished substitutes of real physical interaction. The spontaneity, the argumentation, the subtle non-verbal cues, the mood of the room are all crucial parts in the collective endeavour of scientific discovery and intellectual advancement. I miss that but I hope we will meet again, sooner rather than later.