Exploring a deep interest in the human relationship with the natural environment

Growing up on the edge of Dartmoor, Kezz Keogh’s view of the world and direction she would take in life was shaped at an early age.
Having a fascination with the experience of being human and the reasoning behind why people do the things they do, studying psychology seemed like a clear option.
Wanting to stay close to home, as well as being impressed by how proactive the University was in protecting the environment, Kezz chose to study BSc Psychology, as well as MSc Research Methods in Psychology at Plymouth. 
Since graduating with a masters in 2021, Kezz has secured a job as the Engagement and Development Officer for The National Hypnotherapy Society.

<p>Kezz Keogh on Dartmoor.<br></p>

Studying at Plymouth

During the course of her study, Kezz found neuropsychology particularly intriguing. She was able to delve deeper into human cognition and behaviour, allowing her to get answers to questions she’d always wondered about.
“How can a song elicit similar emotions in people regardless of the language spoken? Why do we dream? What drives the decisions that we make?”
Over time, Kezz’s curiosity in psychology became enmeshed with her lifelong love of nature. This evolved into a deep interest in the human relationship with the natural environment, and she chose to explore this during her degree.
For half of her undergraduate work placement, Kezz spent time at Dartmoor Zoo. Working alongside a team of undergraduate researchers, she dedicated her time to monitoring the stress levels of resident animals and did research into the latest enrichment so that she could improve their quality of life.
Kezz loved every moment working at the zoo, and would also study Environmental Science and Conservation if she was able to.
“I would study for my whole life if I could get away with it!”
Kezz realised whilst studying for her degree, she was far from finished on her learning journey. Wanting to investigate the questions she still had about the world, she aimed to join the world of research. 

“I need to prove myself and climb the ladder of academia.”
During her masters, Kezz focused her study on supporting behaviour change and neuro-ethics. She became fascinated by the possible implications that technology and pharmacology advancements may be having, in particular mind-reading technology and the idea of free-thought. This controversial topic led to debates being sparked between classmates, something Kezz really enjoyed.
Kezz graduated from her masters with a distinction and achieved the highest overall grade in the course.

<p>Kezz Keogh at her graduation.<br></p>

Functional Imagery Training (FIT) 

Kezz had the opportunity to work alongside Professor Jackie Andrade, researching Functional Imagery Training (FIT) with undergraduate students at the University. 
FIT is the unique method of using mental imagery to approach behaviour change and motivate change. This approach has been developed by researchers at Plymouth and Queensland University of Technology.
She found that working with individuals on a one-to-one basis was very successful and eye-opening and hopes to do more research into FIT in the future as she believes:
“It is a powerful resource that has a lot of potential to make positive change in many ways!”

The Plymouth experience

Alongside Professor Andrade, Kezz has formed great relationships with academics and was inspired by their work ethic.
Dr Chris Berry was my beloved personal tutor. He was a very understanding and supportive tutor. He was also a brilliant lecturer who was able to make even the most scary statistics manageable.

“I found the teachings of Dr Giorgio Ganis to always be fascinating, and his enthusiasm for his work was always infectious.

Professor Jon May provided me with invaluable research opportunities that have shaped the path of my academic and professional career. He always had time for advice and a friendly chat, and I will always be grateful to him.”

Speaking on her advice for current students, Kezz says to grab every opportunity that is offered, as well as to network and volunteer as much as possible. But most importantly, she believes choosing a subject you love is the key to success.
“For the next three or more years, this subject will become a central focus of your everyday life, so you need to be willing to dedicate your time and effort to it.”
Since leaving Plymouth, Kezz has missed working alongside her peers, as well as coffee-fuelled all-nighters in the library and working towards her graded exams in the Jiu Jitsu club. 
“The more you put into Plymouth, the more you’ll get out of it.”

<p>Kezz Keogh with a wolf.<br></p>
<p>Kezz Keogh on placement at Dartmoor Zoo.</p>
<p>Kezz Keogh taking part in psychology research.<br></p>
<p>Kezz Keogh using VR.<br></p>
<p>Kezz Keogh being filmed.<br></p>

Looking to the future

After graduating, Kezz joined the National Hypnotherapy Society as a research assistant. Although she isn’t able to disclose much about her new role due to confidentiality limitations, she is making a great impression so far and has been offered a permanent position in their team as the Engagement and Development Officer. She’s been enjoying putting her study into practice: 
“It’s very satisfying to be able to put my wide skillset to use!”
Kezz’s future aspirations lie within the world of academia, as she aims to continue researching and learning new things. For now, she plans to gain more professional experience before continuing her studies into a doctorate.
“My most important ambition in life is to contribute to something bigger than myself.”
She has a passion for the natural world and looking into humanity’s relationship with it; her ultimate goal is to find a way to reconcile humans with nature. Kezz aims to network with like-minded organisations who share this goal and find a way to demonstrate that everyday decisions, such as recycling, have long-term consequences.
“Humanity has come a long way since the prehistoric days, but I believe that lots of important things have been lost along the way. If we want to look forward to a promising future on planet earth, there’s lots of work to be done!” 
 
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