Alessandra Souza, the 2019 WomWoM Research Fairy

By Vanessa Loaiza, Clara Overkott, and Evie Vergauwe

Women of Working Memory (WomWoM) is a network of women in the working memory field who embolden each other to do their best work amongst a supportive and inclusive community. You can read about the group’s origin story and their annual Research Fairy award here

This year, we sent out a request via the WomWoM WhatsApp group and Twitter to vote for the Research Fairy. Our aim was to ensure that those who could not attend ESCOP/EWOMS (where we had decided Evie Vergauwe as the fairy last year) are able to participate, as well as to hopefully get a wide range of women from all over the world as candidates for the award. The WomWoM are pleased to share that the Research Fairy of 2019 is Alessandra Souza. 

Alessandra is a senior research associate at the University of Zurich. The nominations for Alessandra were lavish with praise for her integrity, generosity, collegiality, and tremendous intelligence. Indeed, Alessandra is the Renaissance Woman of working memory — there isn’t one topic that she doesn’t do research on, and she’s leading on all of them. For example, Alessandra’s work has been pioneering for our understanding of the intersection between attention and working memory, forgetting from working memory, individual and developmental differences in working memory, and how working memory impacts long-term memory

Not only are Alessandra’s own contributions to the field immense, but in true research fairy spirit, she generously shares her incredible knowledge and knack for impeccable design with others, thereby extending the reach of her top-notch research. Alessandra confidently and respectfully provides invaluable feedback to other researchers, especially at scientific meetings, by asking succinct, pointed questions that prompt careful consideration of one’s theoretical rationale and methodological details — you bet that if there’s any confound, she’ll find it! Her suggestions of new approaches and ideas serve to enhance the work and the quality of research in the field. At the same time, she encourages all of her students and collaborators to confidently expand their research to a new level. Alessandra also pushes the boundaries of the field further by embracing open and transparent science in her work and in her role as co-director of the Swiss Open Science Psychological Science Initiative (SOPSI). In so many ways, Alessandra is a leader in the field and a role model to her colleagues and students.

Thank you to everyone who voted and the heart-warming comments you wrote along with your nominations. As Candice Morey had encouraged, we hope that all members of our research community are encouraged to share their kind thoughts with those who they admire. As scientists we regularly face rejection and criticism, and hearing that someone recognizes and appreciates your work can really lift spirits and make that work all the more enjoyable.

If you are a woman who does any research about working memory and would like to join our WomWoM WhatsApp group, please get in touch!