Sophie von Stumm Director
Sophie is Director of the Hungry Mind Lab and Professor of Psychology in Education at the University of York.
She studies the causes and consequences of individual differences in learning, integrating theories and methods across the disciplines psychology, education, and behavioural genetics. Her research addresses how family background, early life experiences, and education opportunities inform children’s cognitive and social-emotional development. It builds on secondary data analyses from population cohort studies and on digital assessment technologies for collecting repeated, in-depth, naturalistic observations.
One of Sophie’s current foci is to critically evaluate ‘personalised education’, an increasingly popular approach to responding to children’s differential learning needs that seeks to optimize the match between learner and instruction. However, ‘personalising’ education necessarily requires selecting children into some and out of other learning environments, which stands against the principle of equal learning opportunities for all. Achieving equity in education while preserving the equality of educational opportunity is a challenge for education systems around the world.
Sophie is a CRISP Fellow for the Jacobs Foundation (2022-2027). In 2022, she held a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. Sophie’s research is currently also funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
Alexandra Starr Postdoctoral Researcher
Alexandra joined the Hungry Mind Lab in 2023 as a postdoctoral researcher on a project on the gene-environment interplay in early life cognitive development, which is funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
Alexandra’s research interests focus on using behavioural genetic approaches to understand the origin and development of social and educational inequality. From 2014 through 2022 and prior moving to York, Alexandra completed her BSc, MSc, and PhD in Psychology at Bielefeld University. Alongside her studies, Alexandra worked for the DFG-funded project TwinLife, a longitudinal, population-representative cohort sample of Germany that focuses on disentangling genetic and environmental influences on life chances. In her PhD research, Alexandra used twin modelling to investigate the role of genes and the environment for children’s school achievement.
Anna Brown Postdoctoral Researcher
Anna joined the Hungry Mind Lab in 2023 as postdoctoral researcher on a project funded by the Nuffield Foundation on the role of early language experiences in the transmission of family background inequality.
Prior to moving to York, Anna completed her PhD in psychology at the University of Liverpool. Her PhD research investigated the link between language and object development. Anna has also worked as a research assistant on a number of projects, including the LuCiD Language 0-5 Project and the global ManyBabies project.
Anna has studied many different aspects of children's language development to better understand the link between early language environments and later life outcomes. She believes that learning language is a core pillar of our social and psychological development.
Florence Oxley Postdoctoral Researcher
Florence joined the Hungry Mind Lab in 2023 as a postdoctoral researcher on a project on the gene-environment interplay in early life cognitive development, which is funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
She also completed her PhD in Linguistics in 2023 at the University of York. Florence’s research interests centre around how experience interacts with biology during the early years, giving rise to individual differences in socio-emotional, cognitive, and motor development. In her PhD, Florence investigated cerebral specialisation for vocalisation and facial expression of emotion in pre-linguistic infants. She worked as a Research Assistant at the School of Education at the University of Leeds alongside her PhD (2019-2022), and she simultaneously held teaching and research posts on projects concerning phonological, linguistic, and psychological development at the University of York and Leeds Beckett University.
Megan Wright PhD student
Megan started her PhD on the ‘The psychology of adulthood’ at the Hungry Mind Lab in 2020.
Her research focuses on assessing current perceptions of adulthood – whether people perceive themselves as adults, how adulthood is defined today, and whether adulthood is seen as a positive time of life. Megan has developed a taxonomy of adult development -- the CARES taxonomy – to describe the psychological growth and change that takes place across adulthood. She conducts studies to measure individual differences in the perceptions of adulthood, and how perceptions of adulthood impact the identity development, mental health, and well-being of adults. Megan’s PhD is funded by Hogan Assessment Systems.
Previously, Megan worked as a Project Coordinator on a Hungry Mind Lab project on the gene-environment interplay in early life cognitive development, which is funded by the Nuffield Foundation. Megan completed her MSc degree in Cognitive Neuroscience at Aston University in 2019.
Kirsty Wilding PhD Student
Kirsty’s PhD research explores the association between family background inequality – considering both genetic and environmental factors -- and children’s educational and language development.
She uses polygenic scores in her research to index genetic propensities for children’s development. Kirsty initially joined the Hungry Mind lab to provide research assistance for a project on gene-environment interactions in children’s cognitive development. Prior to moving to York, she completed a BSc in Applied Psychology and Human Biology at Keele University and an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience. Kirsty also worked as research assistant on the Aston Literacy Project, which explores reading ability and vocabulary knowledge in children.
Emily Wood Project Coordinator
Emily joined the Hungry Mind Lab in 2023 as project coordinator on a project funded by the Nuffield Foundation on the role of early language experiences in the transmission of family background inequality.
From 2019-2023, Emily completed an Integrated MSc in Psychology at the University of York, specialising in Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. During this time, Emily worked as a research assistant for YorRobots through a Venables Internship, which encourages the integration of robotics into research. Emily later conducted research for the Royal National Institute for Blind People, investigating audio description quality.
Sophie Put PhD Student
Sophie joined the Hungry Mind Lab in 2023 to pursue a MA in Social Research and then a PhD in child language development. She is funded by a White Rose ESRC 1 + 3 PhD scholarship. Her primary research interest lies in the area of children's developmental differences.
In 2022, Sophie graduated from a BSc in Psychology from the University of Regensburg, Germany. During her studies, she worked as a research assistant on a project that investigated virtual exposition therapy for children with anxiety and was involved in teaching students statistical methods by using the programming language R. Following this, she worked on evaluation studies of We Love Reading, an intervention that aims to improve literacy in refugee children, at Trinity College Dublin during an 5-months Erasmus funded internship.