Featured ‘Day in the life of’: Bianca, PhD student researching evolutionary and clinical psychology.

Hi! My name is Bianca, and I am a third year psychology PhD student from South Australia. My research is in evolutionary and clinical psychology, looking at how early life environment and childhood experiences affect our development, and how this is related to experiences of mental health concerns. To be more specific, I am looking at a life history explanation of developmental psychopathology.

During the July teaching break I had the pleasure of attending the Human Behaviour and Evolutionary Society’s 30th Annual Meeting in Amsterdam. This conference is four days long, which brings together some of the most inspiring evolutionary psychologists, biologists, ecologists, and anthropologists. Being a psychology PhD student I was most excited to see the progress of the evolutionary psychological field, but it’s also a great opportunity to learn about our neighbouring and often integrated fields. I have included a breakdown of day two of the conference.


7:28am – Most mornings I was up at 6:30am to get ready for the day, before heading down to the hostel kitchen for breakfast. Every morning of the conference started with a 9am keynote speaker, so this meant a bit of an early start. My only complaint was the hostels average idea of “coffee”.


8:33am – I had to catch the train into the city from the hostel every morning, but it was a good opportunity to have a look at the program and decide what sessions to attend that morning. The conference was being held at the University of Amsterdam/Universiteit van Amsterdam.


11:04am – After a few presentations, I ducked out for a coffee break. As a bit of a self-proclaimed coffee snob and still suffering from a mild case of jet lag, the hostel “coffee” wasn’t really cutting it. However, there was no reason to complain about having to go on a coffee hunt when you encounter beautiful views like this just walking down the street.


11:10am – After finally finding a cafe, rather than walking around astonished by the beautiful canals like the ultimate tourist, I sat down to a nice cup of coffee and to plan the rest of my day. This conference is rather large, with four parallel presentation sessions running at all times.


12:01pm – I made it back to the conference venue in time to listen to a presentation titled “The evolution of sensitive periods in a model of incremental development” by Willem Frankenhuis, a very engaging speaker!


1:10pm – The conference committee set up a graduate student lunch, giving current and prospective students the opportunity to ask young successful academics questions about the field, job prospects, their experiences of transitioning from a student to a lecturer/professor, and any other questions grad students may be too afraid to ask their supervisors.



2:55pm – The session following lunch today was definitely a highlight for me – a series of presentations about development in harsh conditions (research that is pretty relevant to my own). We heard from a range of interesting speakers, including Willem Frankenhuis again, Dimitri van der Linden, Adam Bulley, and Steven Neuberg. Throughout the conference I had a series of nerdy “fan girl” moments, listening to presentations by academics whose work I have been reading for year.


4:07pm – The day of presentations ended with an engaging key note given by Toby Keirs – Resolving Host Microbe Conflict. Although my knowledge of microbe and related matter is extremely limited the way in which Toby presented gave you no option but to engage. She presented with such amazing passion for her research; something I hope to be able to do someday!


6:50pm – 9pm – Tonight was the poster evening. I was lucky enough to be presenting alongside another 174 posters. I was excited to be presenting my work, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.

This marks the end of day two of the conference. I am preparing for two more full days of learning all things evolutionary related, before jet setting around Ireland, Wales, and squeezing in a few days to properly explore Amsterdam – I deserve a holiday right? haha.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite photos from my adventures around this beautiful Dutch city!

Thanks for tuning in for a day-in-the-life-of-Bianca!


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