Dr Matthew Jones-Chesters, gardener extraordinaire and budding classical pianist, is a clinical neuropsychologist who recently worked on the standardisation and validation of the new Test of Everyday Attention for Children, Second Edition (TEA-Ch2).
Where/what did you study and what are your qualifications?
I studied undergraduate Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford (Balliol College) and then did a PhD in experimental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge (Caius College). I did my professional doctorate in clinical psychology at UCL and then a post-graduate diploma in neuropsychology at Kings College.
Tell us about your professional experience.
My main career has been a clinical neuropsychologist, mostly working with adults (e.g., autism spectrum, HIV dementia, neurodegenerative disorders) but also with older adults (stroke and memory clinics) and children. I still hold an honorary appointment as Consultant Neuropsychologist in the NHS, but now work for the University of East London, teaching on the clinical psychology training programme, and doing research.
What are your current projects?
My main research interests are: autistic spectrum presentations, particularly social cognition and moral reasoning; cross-cultural neuropsychology, especially adapting and developing cogntiive tests for use with people who do not speak English and/or who come from non-Western cultures; finding easier and more efficient ways of assessing learning and memory in children and older people. For Pearson Clinical, I recently helped with the standardisation and validation of the new Test of Everyday Attention for Children, Second Edition (TEA-Ch2).
Who have you worked with?
My PhD supervisors, Prof Peter Cooper and Prof Stephen Monsell taught me most of what I know about clinical psychology and the neuropsychology of attention. In my first dementia assessment role with Dr Zuzana Walker and Prof Cornelius Katona at the Harlow Memory Clinic, I learned a lot about how to combine being a caring clinician with an academic research career.
At UEL, Prof Mary Boyle was an inspiring mentor to me, helping me to understand how to work at the limits of psychological knowledge. It was a great pleasure for me recently to work with Dr Tom Manly and Prof John Crawford on the TEA-Ch2 project, developing my skills in test development and psychometrics.
What inspired you to get into this field?
As a clinical neuropsychologist, I study and work with the brain and the mind - it's the most fascinating area, and we are lucky to live at a time in history when more and more is being discovered in neuroscience every day.
If you werent an expert in your field, what would you be?
If I had to change career, I would like to be a garden designer or horticulturalist. Finding the right plant for the right place, and watching something grow and blossom is so rewarding. It also great to do something practical with your hands and in the open air.
What do you do away from work?
Apart from my garden, my main passion outside of work is music: I try to play the piano and listen to all kinds of music, particularly folk and opera.
What's your favourite book, and why?
I could choose any of the novels by Toni Morrison, who writes passionately and poetically about the African American experience; but "Song of Solomon" is my favourite. On the academic side, "Beast and Man" by Mary Midgely is a wonderful book about our place in the world.
What's your favourite album, and why?
My favourite modern musician is Joni Mitchell. Her albums, expecially 'Blue', 'For the Roses' and 'Hissing of Summer Lawns' seem always to have been playing during the best times of my life.
Who's your favourite musician/composer/singer, and why?
Chopin is my favourite classical composer, and when I am trying to play the piano it is often a Chopin piece I am harrassing!
Whom do you most admire, and why?
I really admire the philospher Richard Rorty. He managed to write about the hardest questions in life with insight and clarity, but was politically aware and challenging. His work shows how academic philosophy can have deep practical significance.
Date Added: May 23, 2016