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Phillip Wilkinson

Favourite Thing: Doing social experiments with people when they’re not expecting it. Did you know that if you nod your head when talking to someone, they will start nodding as well?

My CV

Education:

School & College = Macmillan Academy; University = Newcastle University

Qualifications:

GCSEs = 1 x A*, 8 x A, 2 x B; A-Levels = Physics – B; Computing – A; Electronics – B; ICT – B; Degree = BSc Computer Science – 2.1

Work History:

Newcastle University, Teesside University, James Cook Hospital (NHS), Evening Gazette, Youth Enterprise, National Citizen Service, STEM +, Eston Park School

Current Job:

Digital Research Engineer

Employer:

Center for Digital Entertainment @ Bournemouth and Bath Universities

Me and my work

Using psychology I am developing fun digital games that make people happier, more empathetic and improves their social skills

Outgoing geek and video game enthusiast. Having grown up playing video games I am aware of the skills I have learned and how it has positively impacted my development. Now I am looking to understand the positive skills that playing games can teach us and develop games to help children’s development of emotional and social skills. Such as confidence, communication and empathy. However, to be objective I am also looking at the evidence that says video games increase violent behaviour in people.

My Typical Day

Can be anything from sitting in a cafe and doing online research; playing games and calling it ‘research’ or working with kids in school to build robots.

Taking this week as an example.

Monday – Spend morning in school as a mentor, supporting students in deciding what they want to do after leaving school. Afternoon is spent between reading in a cafe and attending a lecture on cyber-psychology.

Tuesday – Reading through scientific studies that demonstrated a link between violent games and violent behaviour in young children. Write up notes made and start to write out a review of the research I’ve covered.

Wednesday – Meeting with my supervisor. He’s a professor who make sure my work is on track. We discuss the quality of the studies I have looked at so far. He make suggestions for further reading. He also uses a lot of big words; so a lot of the time I just nod along. Spend the afternoon in a seminar on different approaches to research.

Thursday – Travel to a school in Christchurch. Spend the day with kids making robots from lego. Give the children tasks that their robot must complete. Use this as a way to introduce children about programming.

Friday – Read through research and books that supervisor recommended. Make notes and send emails to other academics and companies asking them questions to form part of my research.

Saturday – Found a 300 page report from a European research institute on digital games. Read through the entire thing. (May be interesting but its not always exciting!)

What I'd do with the money

I would create the internet video series Dirty Science; in which a homeless man uses the streets he lives on to explain scientific subjects.

Setup:

During filming of Wonders of the Solar System with Professor Brain Cox the camera crew came across a homeless man. After repeatedly interrupting filming with his mad ravings the crew became irate. However, during a rant in which he waved a frozen chicken they discovered he was actually accurately describing Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Growing fond of the homeless man and would gather round and film his rants. They dubbed him Dr Hobo and shared his lectures with the world, hoping people would learn from his dirty science.

Note: This will be an actor pretending to be a homeless man.

What’s Needed:

Camera, Mic, Sound Engineer, Homeless Costume, Frozen Chicken Prop

Also, this is meant to be tongue in cheek. However, it can be seen to be in bad taste so I would like to donate some of the money to the Shelter charity.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Geeky playful scientist.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Mausi

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Skydiving. (Fun and Terrifying)

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1: Replace all guns in the world with water pistols. 2: Equal Education for All. 3: Own a base on the moon.

What did you want to be after you left school?

From secondary school onwards I was undecided between being a writer, a teacher or a games developer. Which, thinking about it, is great since now I’m a cross between all three!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Repeatedly – My attendance at school was terrible and I was always late.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Not really one ‘thing’, but the fact that I have the freedom to explore new ideas, without being told what to do, and ask questions that no one has the answer to is fantastic.

Tell us a joke.

Whats orange and sounds like a parrot?……………………………………………………………………………. A carrot!

Other stuff

Work photos: