Lab Director

Dr. Gillian Sandstrom

Email: g.sandstrom (at)

My undergraduate degree was in Mathematics and Computer Science, at the University of Waterloo, in Canada. I worked as a computer scientist for 10 years before deciding to return to higher education. I took two Psychology classes by distance education, volunteered in a lab, and then took the plunge and applied to do a Master’s degree in Psychology at Ryerson University (Toronto), on the topic of Music Cognition. An internship/placement that I completed during that degree led me to move to the University of British Columbia for my PhD, where I started studying conversations with strangers and acquaintances (weak ties). Next, I moved to the U.K. to take up a postdoctoral position at the University of Cambridge. In 2015, I took up my first permanent academic post at the University of Essex, continuing my work on minimal social interactions. In 2022 I started working at the University of Sussex, heading up the Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness.

PhD Students

Shaaba Lotun

Email: slotun (at)
ResearchGate profile

I am interested in understanding relationships formed between creative influencers and their followers on social media, and what this can tell us about relationships more broadly.

Lab Alumni

  • Dr. Caitlin Kelly, post-doctoral research assistant