Dr Daniel Zuj, who received his PhD from the University of Tasmania in this year’s August graduations, will soon swap the beautiful beaches of Tasmania for the equally stunning shores of Swansea.

Swansea, Wales, that is.

“I accepted a two-year contract as a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Swansea University in Wales. It’s a balanced research and teaching position.

“There are some excellent researchers in my field in the department and I’ve already made links with them,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to it, the university is in a beautiful location right on the beach. It’s along a stunning coastline.”

Daniel’s PhD research investigated the different processes of fear and how they relate to post-traumatic stress disorder. The project was inspired by his grandfather, a World War Two veteran from Poland.

I was looking at different sleep and cognitive processes, as well as some biological processes and how they interact to influence those fear-related features of PTSD.

“One of the most interesting findings was that for someone with PTSD, their ability to extinguish their fears becomes worse throughout the day. This suggests that treatments like exposure therapy might actually be more effective if they are scheduled first thing in the morning,” he said.

“What I like about that is how easy this would be to implement into treatment. It doesn’t require new training or new equipment, it might just be a different approach to scheduling clients.”

Daniel said his Honours year was a “big motivator” for going onto his PhD.

I really enjoyed Honours. That really encouraged me to keep going with research.

“My primary supervisor was Professor Kim Felmingham (University of Melbourne) and my co-supervisor was Dr Matthew Palmer (Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Tasmania). They both have an infectious attitude towards research.

You need that environment of being around really enthusiastic and passionate people.

Daniel said the potential for his research to make a real contribution was also a key driver.

“Research findings can inform so many important decisions, it could inform treatment in a personal clinical setting, or it could potentially inform public policy. The idea of contributing to those sorts of changes is really exciting."

Daniel said there had been lots of opportunities for teaching throughout his PhD.

I’ve had the opportunity to teach first and third year students in a range of different topics and this year I was lucky to be offered a one-year lecturing contract, so I got a lot of experience in the lecturing side of academia, which has prepared me for the teaching aspect of the position in Swansea.

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