Is there anything more interesting than the human mind and brain? Not to me. The brain, like a rock and all other objects is just a bunch of atoms. But... rocks don't fall in love with each other, travel to the moon, or contemplate their own mortality. So, how does a brain which is primarily composed of firing neurons give rise to our mind, feelings, and behaviour? Such questions motivated and inspired me to study Psychology.
So inspired and motivated, I found myself in this wonderful little corner of the world called the University of Aberdeen. At this illustrious institution, world-class academics in the School of Psychology supported my development and enabled me to flourish. The teaching staff are dedicated to their craft and go above and beyond for their students. They mentor with wisdom and experience. Stand out courses from the degree were anything to do with perception, evolutionary psychology, personality (extreme introvert btw), and consciousness. Statistics was fun (really!), and social psychology is fascinating and transformative.
Four years of study and life went by well; which brings me to the present. I am elated, proud, grateful, and surprised, to be awarded the Alan Berkeley Milne prize for the best undergraduate Psychology thesis of 2020. It was a surprise for a few reasons, but mainly because of the excellent projects and quality of my peers. Another reason is that I often doubt my ability. The thesis was my favourite part of this year, and other than a Developing Scientist research position last summer, it was my favourite experience of University. My thesis was an EEG experiment on the behavioural and neural predictability of free choice. The work may be published, so watch this space. Of course, my thesis wasn't a lone endeavour; my supervisor was integral, and I collaborated with my thesis group peers. Furthermore, the three prior years of Psychology study especially the Lab Reports and group projects prepared me well. I wish to thank the family of Dr Alan Milne who endowed this award. I am truly grateful for the recognition of my hard work.
I was also elated to receive the Henry prize for gaining the highest Senior Honours marks in 2019-2020. I’m not sure I would have managed this without the unusual circumstances this semester. The coronavirus lockdown entailed open-book exams, allowing me to leverage my talent for research, versus writing an essay under normal exam conditions. Nevertheless, I am extremely proud of my achievement, and grateful to the memory of the Rev James Henry MA for this fund. Thank you!
Attaining these special prizes and a First Class Honours degree was only possible by the careful tutelage and opportunities provided by the School of Psychology and the University of Aberdeen. Thank you for this, and for a wonderful four years of life changing experiences. I feel well prepared for my next step to study for a PhD. Good luck everyone, and reach for the stars!
Philip McAdams graduated in July 2020 with an MA in Psychology