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Soapbox Science Success – Taking Martial Arts & The Brain to the High Street

Ashleigh JohnstoneAshleigh on her Soap Box talking about Martial Arts & the BrainBangor Psychology PhD student Ashleigh Johnstone, from the Isle of Man, recently travelled to Cardiff to take part in the 2018 Soapbox Science event. She applied for the event after seeing a large number of Bangor Psychology PhD students and staff get involved in previous years, being first inspired by Professor Emily Cross in 2013. Ashleigh said, “When I was an undergraduate I heard about Emily Cross taking part in the London event and fell in love with the concept of Soapbox Science. Since then I’ve seen many incredible women follow in her footsteps, and have been waiting until I was able to apply myself. I was thrilled to be accepted and represent Bangor University!”

During the event in Cardiff, Ashleigh spoke about her current research which aims to assess cognitive changes associated with Martial Arts training and expertise. Armed with a model brain and a lot of enthusiasm, Ashleigh spent an hour talking with the public about how Martial Arts practice can improve your attention, and answering questions about topics ranging from brain training games, yoga, and the brain itself.

Public speaking was something that gave Ashleigh severe anxiety for a long time, however she credits Bangor Psychology’s POPPS classes (peer-led classes designed to train and support students in presentation giving) for helping her gain the confidence to apply to Soapbox Science. She noted, “When I was in my first year at Bangor, I often cried and felt sick at the idea of talking in front of a small class in POPPS, but with support from Dr Fran Garrad-Cole I was able to slowly build up my confidence and feel better equipped to deal with my anxiety.”

Speaking about Soapbox Science, Ashleigh said “Of course I was incredibly nervous at first, however my POPPS training kicked in and I was able to remind myself that I am fully capable of talking about my work. I ended up thoroughly enjoying the experience, and would recommend it to anybody who has been thinking about applying to Soapbox Science!”

Publication date: 7 June 2018