I was born in the stunningly beautiful region of Bukovina in Northern Romania. I didn't quite realise its beauty at the time, but I remember it as a safe and green time, splashing in rivers, climbing trees, reading books up on a tree branch. I eventually moved to the capital city of Bucharest, which by comparison was grey and smokey. In school, I'd always been good at maths, so when I had the choice at 13, I went to a high school focused on computer science. We spent around 7 hours a week staring at the computer screen, writing code. When I was about 15, my grandfather gave me a book that briefly presented the history of psychology in cartoons. I read it several times in one week. I ended up doing two University degrees - one in Computer Science and one in Psychology.
I did my BA in Psychology in Bucharest. A four-year Bachelor's, as they had them in my day. Fondest memory is spending a huge amount of time reading the classics in the beautiful Central University Library in Bucharest.
I also did a second degree, part-time, in Bucharest. This was a combined degree in Computer Science and Economics. I mostly attended and enjoyed the programming courses (remember the Pascal programming language anyone!?)
During my Uni days, apart from spending every other weekend hiking mountains, I was involved in lots of voluntary projects with Bucharest-based NGOs, mostly in youth/civic education, and briefly worked in the NGO sector in applied research.
My interest in psychology research grew alongside my involvement in the NGO sector. In a country transitioning from totalitarianism to some sort of democracy, I wanted to better understand these social dynamics and I decided to study social and political psychology. I travelled to the green pastures of Devon in England, for an MSc in Social and Organizational Psychology at the University of Exeter.
During the MSc, I was offered a scholarship to carry on my research in a PhD in Social Psychology. I learned an incredible amount about theories and research methods, and graduated in July 2013 with a sincere doubt that any of it could be put into action to make a real difference.
Looking to explore a more applied approach to doing research, I moved to Exeter University's Business School, to work in a multidisciplinary team looking at social processes surrounding tax compliance, avoidance, and evasion, in close collaboration to the UK tax authority. I started out as a researcher, and then became a lecturer.
At the same time as doing my research work, I started going back to my earlier interest in programming to create some research communication tools. This coincided with my partner's interest in psychology-based mobile apps, and we became a pair of enthusiasts in how these 'computers in people's pockets' would revolutionise psychological and social science. We wanted to experience this revolution first-hand, so we founded PsyNovigo, a company that builds software based on research.
I eventually decided to take a break from the academic career I had started. Partly, this was to focus on growing our business. And partly to pursue more applied research projects, where I can see the immediate impact of my work. I also moved countries after 10 years in the UK back to my native Romania, this time to the cool city of Cluj.
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