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Dr Georgina Powell

Dr Georgina Powell

Research Fellow (Health and Care Research Wales)

School of Psychology

Email
powellg7@cardiff.ac.uk
Campuses
Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

How we can capitalise on new technological developments to deliver novel solutions in health and social care? My research explores this question using a range of technologies - from bespoke rehabilitation tools that use virtual/augmented reality to mainstream devices such as smart speakers (e.g. Amazon Alexa, Google Home).

Some of my current projects include: smart speaker devices to improve wellbeing, agency and communication for older adults and adults with learning disabilities, Virtual/Augmented Reality and video games for patients with chronic dizziness (in particular, persistent postural perceptual dizziness, PPPD, or ‘visual vertigo’), and multi-sensory environments for children with Autism.

To capture a range of outcomes, I use a mixed-methods approach that combines qualitative and quantitative measures, observational studies, neuroimaging, and psychophysics. I work closely with practitioners, providers and service users in health and social care to co-produce my research projects from beginning to end.

Biography

Education

2009: BA Applied Psychology (Hons) 1st class, Cardiff  University.

2013: PhD Psychology, Cardiff University.  Thesis: Conscious Perception of Illusory  Colour. Supervised by P. Sumner and A. Bompas.

Honours and awards

Hadyn Ellis prize for best PhD  dissertation (2014), School of Psychology, Cardiff University.
Bristol  Cardiff Young Vision Researchers Colloquium (2013, £50), 2nd Prize  Oral Presentation Award.
Applied  Vision Association (2012, £750), Richard Eagle Memorial Award.
European  Conference of Visual Perception (2011, €500), student poster prize.
Speaking  of Science, Cardiff University (2011, £50), 2nd Prize Oral Presentation Award.

Professional memberships

Applied Vision Association (AVA).

Academic positions

February 2020 - present: Health and Care Research Wales Social Care Fellow and part-time lecturer

October 2013 – January 2020:  Research  Associate at Cardiff University

July – October 2012: Press Officer for Mental Health and Neuroscience,  Science Media Centre

2009-2013: Undergraduate teaching at Cardiff University.  Year 1 Practicals and Statistics Tutor, Year  2 Practical Assistant, and Year 3 Workshop Assistant

2007-2008:  Placement with Clinical Psychology team at Cardiff Adult Learning Disabilities Service

Committees and reviewing

2009-present: Vice Chair, Innovate Trust.
2008-2009: Vice Chair, Student Volunteering Cardiff.

Publications

2020

2019

2018

2016

2015

2013

2012

2011

Teaching

I lecture and run practicals for the Psychology (MSc) conversion course on the Developmental and Abnormal Psychology module (PST721). 

‘Smart Speaker’ personal assistants in social care settings

Can new ‘Smart Speaker’ technologies, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, improve wellbeing, independence, communication and safety in social care? My Health and Care Research Wales Fellowship is investigating this question for older adults and people with learning disabilities.

Smart technology is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in modern day life, and social care could capitalise on these advances to find novel solutions to models of support. Mainstream smart technologies allow people to control their home environment via voice commands, are cost-effective, and continue to evolve and improve. The two main goals of my fellowship are to:

  1. Improve wellbeing, independence, communication, and safety for vulnerable individuals - ranging from those who wish to remain living independently for longer to those who currently need a high degree of support.
  2. Produce an evidence-base to allow future social care decisions to capitalise on emerging smart technology.

In collaboration with social care organisations across South Wales, I will investigate whether introducing smart technologies into social care settings can improve independence, communication, and wellbeing of individuals receiving support.

Persistent Postural Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD, or ‘visual vertigo’)

Persistent postural perceptual dizziness (PPPD) is a chronic, debilitating condition that describes dizziness and non-spinning vertigo induced by self-movement, challenging visual environments and upright posture. Common triggers include situations of vestibulo-visual conflict, such as cinemas, and intense visual environments, such as supermarkets.

The Cardiff PPPD project is investigating the causes and correlates of PPPD and developing new technological rehabilitation tools for patients. We are collaborating with vestibular clinicians at University Hospital Wales and exploring the enigma of PPPD using a range of theoretical and methodological approaches.  Our research so far has shown that symptoms of PPPD are remarkably common in the general population and that the condition is associated with avoidance and sensitivity across all senses (i.e. not just limited to vision and vestibular).

If you are a clinician and would like to access our videos showing environments that are potential triggers for PPPD, please visit the Cardiff PPPD project webpage.

Sensory perception in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Individuals with ASD often have different sensory experiences of the world than individuals without ASD. This is apparent both from questionnaire measures of sensory processing and from psychophysical measures of differences in detection and discrimination of sensory stimuli. I’m interested in why individuals with ASD have different sensory experiences of the world and the relationship between sensory processing profiles (measured by questionnaires and psychophysics) and real life sensory behaviours and exploration.

In collaboration with Catherine Jones, I’m investigating how multi-sensory environments (MSE; also called Snoezelen® or sensory rooms) are used by children with ASD. MSEs contain equipment that modify sensory input, usually in the auditory, visual and tactile domains, and are common features of special needs schools.  However, relatively little research has explored their benefits and limitations. We are using a purpose-build MSE which is based at the Cardiff University Centre for Human Developmental Science at the School of Psychology.

In a past project, I investigated whether visual attention control can be improved in children with Autism by playing novel eye-tracking attention control games (see Powell, Wass, Erichsen and Leekam, 2016).

Funding

Health and Care Research Wales Social Care Fellowship (2020-2024, £331,479) PI

Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund research grant (2013-2015, £49,402, named post-doc) Sue Leekam PI

Supervision

I'm interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • Technological solutions in health and social care
  • Dizziness
  • Visual and vestibular perception
  • Autism

Current Students

  • Ryan Gamble (co-supervised with Petroc Sumner and Simon Rushton) - Ryan is exploring the causes and correlates of persistent perceptual postural dizziness (PPPD, 'visual vertigo').
  • Alice Price (co-supervised with Petroc Sumner and Krish Singh) - Alice is investigating the concept of 'sensory overload', using a combination of subjective, neuroimaging, and psychophysics measures.
  • Nathan Goodwin (co-supervised with Petroc Sumner and Fernando Loizides) - Nathan developing video game and augmented reality rehabilitation tools for people with dizziness. 
  • Charlotte Griffin - Charlotte is exploring how smart technologies can be used to promote wellbeing, social inclusion, and mental health. 
  • Reem Alharbi (co-supervised with Charith Perera) - Reem is investigating privacy and surveillance concerns surrounding smart technology, and developing accessible ways to increase education and awareness.

Past projects

  • Katy Unwin (co-supervised with Catherine Jones) - A Sequential Mixed-Methods Approach to Exploring the Use of Multi-Sensory Environments with Autistic Children (Awarded 2019).

Media activities

New Scientist TV: Friday Illusion – Colour  an animation with your mind