Current PhD fellows

Ella Paldam, PhD fellow, School of Culture and Society, Department of the Study of Religion, Aarhus University

Ella has a BA in the study of religion from Aarhus and has received extensive training in qualitative and quantitative research methods. Her PhD project on California Indians investigates how indigenous tradition is constructed and maintained through religious beliefs and practices. In 2010 she did her field work among the Chumash Tribe in the Santa Barbara area. The project focuses on the Bear Ceremony which is the core common ritual of a highly heterogeneous new religious movement among California Indians.
Besides her PhD project, Ella studies the role of expectation in charismatic healing in a Danish Christian context. In this project, a large archival material has been coded into an extensive database with more than 800 cases of healing through intercessory prayer.

Hugh Turpin, PhD fellow, School of Culture and Society, Department of the Study of Religion, Aarhus University, Denmark

Hugh studied philosophy (BA) at Trinity College Dublin and holds master’s degrees in social anthropology (MSc, Oxford) and cognitive science (MA, UCD). He is currently undertaking the joint QUB/Aarhus University PhD in the Cognitive Science of Religion. His research examines the effects on religious believers of exposure to behaviours on the part of their paragons/models which could be taken to suggest that the model in question does not in fact hold the beliefs they claim to hold. The research will examine the putative connection between religious hypocrisy/scandals and the abandonment of previously held theistic beliefs and religious commitments. It will be conducted through a mixture of lab-based experiments and ethnographic fieldwork carried out in the Republic of Ireland. Apart from the Cognitive Science of Religion proper, Hugh’s other research interests include non-religious socio-cultural phenomena that draw on the psychological technologies and propensities sometimes said to be exploited by religion, and the anthropology of Japanese society.

Anne Buch Møller, PhD fellow, School of Culture and Society, Department of the Study of Religion, Aarhus University

Anne has an academic background in psychology and the Study of Religion and she has received extensive training in quantitative research methods. She is currently undertaking the joint Queen´s University Belfast/ Aarhus University PhD in the Cognitive Science of Religion. Her PhD project investigates the temporal dynamics of Christian prayer, stress and well-being at different temporal resolutions. Her main area of interest lies in the intersection between religion, health and coping.

Marc Andersen, PhD fellow, School of Culture and Society, Department of the Study of Religion & Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University

Marc has an academic background in Psychology and in the Study of Religion from Aarhus University and has received extensive training in experimental methods. His PhD project on agency detection utilizes one of the most promising current conceptual frameworks in cognitive science (predictive coding) as well as eye-tracking technology. His main areas of interest lie in the intersection between spiritism, mysticism, and perceptual cognitive psychology.

Ingela Visuri, associate PhD Fellow of the RCC, based in Sweden where she shares her time between the departments for the Study of Religions at Gävle University and Södertörn University

Ingela Visuri has an MA in the Study of Religions. Her main interests are within the behavioural aspects of religiosity and spirituality, and the role of cognitive and affective empathy has also been a theme in her previous work. Her current PhD project aims at exploring religious and spiritual coping strategies in high functioning adolescents on the autism spectrum. How do young people deal with stress, anxiety and depression through religious and spiritual thoughts, feelings, attitudes, relations and actions? Specific focus is directed towards the role of mentalizing and cognitive embodiment, since these are likely to be involved as both stressors and coping behaviours. The aim of this interdisciplinary project is to contribute with empirical research on a group of individuals that has been underrepresented in the study of religions. Also religious and spiritual aspects are hitherto under researched in autism studies.

Mathilde Hernu, PhD fellow, School of Culture and Society, Department of the Study of Religion, Aarhus University, Denmark 

Mathilde obtained a BA in Psychology and a MA in Social Psychology at Paris 8 University, France. She worked as a research assistant and coordinator for large human trials at Oxford University and Coventry University, UK. Presently, she is pursuing the joint PhD in the Cognitive Science of Religion sponsored by Queen’s University, Belfast and Aarhus University. Her topic of research is the coexistence of natural and supernatural explanations. The aim is to examine the extent to which these different explanations can be invoked by the same individual to explain events or states located in space and time such as misfortunes, life threatening illnesses and natural catastrophes. She hypothesises that the motivations and mechanisms underpinning this phenomenon relate to a psychological need for control and to an understanding of causal links in terms of morality.