Student profile
Claire Gregory

Claire Gregory

"The thing I enjoy the most about my PhD is getting to really dive deeply into topics that interest me. I love having the freedom to choose what areas I research, and that there are always people around interested in discussing new discoveries with me."

Entry year


Choosing Surrey 

I chose to come to the University of Surrey for a variety of reasons. I was interested in working nearer to London after a few years in rural Scotland and was also specifically interested in working with my PhD supervisor. I knew that I wanted to work in the field of judgment and decision-making, and had reached out to a few potential supervisors to discuss projects with them. After speaking with my supervisor at Surrey, Dr Adrian Banks, I felt that Surrey’s research course was the best fit for me. They say that when choosing where to do your PhD, the most important part of the choice is your supervisor! They're the person you will spend the most time working with, and it’s important to find someone who not only supports you but also encourages you to be better and come up with novel ideas.  

My supervisor not only supports my main research projects for my thesis, but also offers advice on work placements, career ideas, and academia in general. He encourages me to go beyond my comfort zone and has been integral in my selecting a placement during the second year of my PhD. Dr Banks has also helped me navigate the intimidating publication process, and is a large part of why I feel confident as a young researcher and writer. 

My research

The thing I enjoy the most about my PhD is getting to really dive deeply into topics that interest me. I love having the freedom to choose what areas I research, and that there are always people around interested in discussing new discoveries with me. One of my exciting research discoveries has been that when people make everyday choices they experience higher post-choice satisfaction if they make their choice using fast, intuitive methods rather than slow, analytical ones. This is interesting as much of the classic research on judgment and decision-making encourages a slow-and-steady approach in order to make correct choices. However, the experiments I’ve run over the past few years have shown that this rule may not hold true when making choices that are less mathematically based.  

Recently, I was able to use one of my thesis studies to collaborate with the University's Employability and Careers team. I researched how undergraduate students participating in a placement year made the decision of what company to work with for their placement. This not only led to interesting insights into potential research questions but also allowed me to use my research to investigate something with potential real-world impact for advising future placement students. 

I am highly enjoying my PhD at Surrey. I tell people all the time how lucky I am that my job is something I love to do. Working alongside colleagues and friends who are all just as interested in psychology as I am makes it such a fun work environment, and getting to create studies based on my interests is a dream come true.  

My best moment at Surrey so far was when I found out that a report I had written for the BPS Cognitive Bulletin was chosen to be published. This moment was hugely rewarding, as I had spent a lot of time on the experiments included in the report and was proud of my work and writing.  

Life on campus 

I'm vice president and Smallbore captain of the University of Surrey Rifle Club. Being part of a team sport is a great way to grow your teamwork and leadership skills, and also helps you meet new people from different departments. I think it’s important for PhD students in particular to have hobbies outside of their studies in order to be able to take a step back and focus on different things for a few hours, as it can be easy to only think about your research.  

One of the best things about life at Surrey is how close we are to London – only about 40 minutes by train! I’m a big fan of theatre and art, so I enjoy going into London to see new shows and exhibitions. Having easy access to these activities is a big perk of living near London, with most theatre shows being walking distance from Waterloo.

Most of the time I’m on campus I’m in my office or our PhD common room – a great place to grab a coffee or lunch with friends for a quick catch up. My favourite coffee spot on campus is the Lakeside Café, which provides not only good coffee but also a chance to get a small walk in on my way there and back to stretch my legs.  

Looking ahead

The careers team helped me find a placement, and also fine-tune my CV and prepare for applying for jobs after Surrey. Their one-to-one meetings are hugely helpful! 

I think doing a PhD at Surrey has impacted my employability in a positive way. I now have experience with being a principal investigator on a research project, experimental design, and project management. It’s given me time management and organisational skills, as well as allowed me to learn new software programs like Jamovi for statistical analysis. All of these pieces of knowledge make me a better job candidate than I was before coming to Surrey. 

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