Meet our staff: Professor Almuth McDowall

Meet Professor Almuth McDowall, Assistant Dean for Organizational Psychology. We briefly caught up with her to discuss what she enjoys about working at Birkbeck and what she likes to do in her spare time.

I have worked at Birkbeck since 2014, and have been Assistant Dean for Organizational Psychology since 2016. In some ways, it’s been a homecoming after 30 years, as I started my UK academic education here at Birkbeck with training in systemic therapy.

What do I enjoy most about Birkbeck?

I love everything about Birkbeck, as I keep saying and genuinely mean that this is the nicest and most collegial bunch of people I have ever worked with. Our executive team

Head of Department & Senior Lecturer in Organizational Psychology

in BEI has been catching up weekly and sometimes daily, our focus is on supporting each other to plan for the uncertainty ahead; my colleagues in OP have been going the extra mile to support all our students. Human connection matters so much, particularly in these challenging times. Birkbeck students are the best. We salute you. I can’t wait for face to face lectures to begin again. I always make a point of checking in with the group, no matter how large or small and ask how they are doing. Our students make so many sacrifices to join us and learn. Huge respect!

What is most challenging about my job?

Well, let’s put it that way – academics don’t necessarily want to be managed. We relish autonomy and freedom in our work. But let’s face it, there is a job to do which involves common tasks. So coordination and getting joint agreement can be a challenge.

Describe Birkbeck in 3 words

Inspiring, eclectic, connected

What do I enjoy when I am not working?

As a former professional dancer, I spend a good part of my salary going to see the arts – classical ballet, modern dance and hard rock in equal measures. I am a regular at the Almuth dancingRoyal Opera House! I still teach dance-based fitness classes – in fact, some at Birkbeck. This helps me feel grounded and also makes me a better lecturer. In dance classes, you always have to be at least two steps ahead mentally. This is good practice to have in any lecture – stops you from ‘mentally cruising’!

Can you tell us about a good book you read, a film you watched or place you visited?

I love London and London parks, we are so lucky. During the lockdown, I have rediscovered rollerblading. I go to Burgess Park just off the Old Kent Road. On sunny days, this is not only ideal for skating around the park but also people watching. Last time I went one person was practising the saxophone (beautiful!), another group doing Salsa, all socially distanced of course, and Canada Geese were having a serious fight in the lake, scaring us all. It’s a really buzzy and very London Park – go and visit.


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