Forensic Psychology, Psychology, Research in the School

What do professors do all day?

Professor Graham Pike is part of the Forensic Cognition Research Group in the School. This blog outlines some of his recent research and engagement activities, including work with the BBC and police forces.

This October, Graham Pike (Professor of Forensic Cognition, OU) has been involved in a number of ‘knowledge exchange’ activities and events based on his research in forensic psychology and applied cognition. Although ‘knowledge exchange’ is a term that could apply to virtually anything done by an academic, it tends to refer to communicating research results to non-academics, including practitioners, public and private organisations and the general public.

At the start of the month he met with members of the BBC Ideas team, who are looking to build on the success of the series of 6 films from the School of Psychology and Counselling that were launched this August. These included ‘Why your first memory is probably wrong’ and ‘Why we see faces in clouds’ that were led by Graham and based on his research in memory and perception. Although at an early stage, the plan is to make a new film based on Graham’s research on the use of face-recognition technology by the police, a theme that was explored in an episode of the BBC series ‘David Wilson’s Crime Files’ that aired this August and in which Graham featured extensively.

In the following week, Graham attended the Academic Advisory Group for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), before helping chair the annual conference of The Centre for Policing Research and Learning (CPRL), where he is Director of Research. The conference contained sessions featuring research talks from researchers, policing practitioners and people from related public services (such as the NHS). You can read a report on the conference here, and you will see that it proved to be an excellent way of sharing knowledge between researchers and practitioners in policing. Note that knowledge exchange is not just about academics talking to non-academics, but also about academics listening and learning from non-academics; so, the conference was very much about bringing researchers and practitioners together to share ideas.

The following week included filming for the Faculty’s series on research, before travelling with colleagues to a conference on ‘Developments in facial identification from eyewitness testimony’, where he presented research on what impact asking the same witness to provide two different forms of visual evidence has on a criminal investigation. You can read about the research here. The conference was attended by academics and police officers, and a good opportunity to hear how research informs policing practice.

Later that week, Graham and colleagues had a stand at the OpenFest event, celebrating the OU’s 50thanniversary by showcasing current research. The stand featured two interactives based on the research of Graham and colleagues: the first was ‘Are you a super recogniser?’; and the event was also used to launch ‘Photofit Me’, an online demonstration of the facial compositing techniques used by the police to generate suspects.

The next week included research meetings for projects being conducted in collaboration with Merseyside Police (on giving communities a voice in how the police are evaluated) and with the King’s Centre for Military Health Research(on the health & wellbeing of emergency responders). Graham and team also attended the 2019 Research Excellence Awards, where they were nominated (but did not win) in the categories of Outstanding Research Project and Best External Collaboration.

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