Georgia Panagiotaki


  • 2.07 Elizabeth Fry Building

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

The development of children’s understanding of nutrition and physical activity The development of children’s understanding of the human body, life and death Cultural influences on children’s understanding of biology and health Parental influences on the way children reason about biology

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Personal profile

Administrative Posts

  • Theme Lead for the Psychology curriculum of the MBBS course
  • Member of the ATHENA SWAN MED group (see-saw)


I joined the Norwich Medical School in 2006 as a Lecturer in Psychology. I lead the Psychology theme for the MBBS course and teach Developmental and Health Psychology, and Consultation Skills. I supervise medical students' selected studies (SSS) in Psychology and ClinPsyD trainees' research projects.

My research has evolved from the study of children’s conceptual development in the domain of astronomy (the topic of my DPhil) to the study of children’s understanding of biology, the human body, and the concepts of life, health, illness and death. My current research explores the relationship between school children’s knowledge of the functioning of the human body and their ideas about what constitutes healthy food and physical activity. I am also interested in how culture and experience influence children’s reasoning in the biology domain.

Academic Background

DPhil in Developmental Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton (2003)
MSc in Health Psychology, City University, London (1995)
BSc Hons in Psychology, University of Crete, Greece (1993)


2006 – date  Lecturer in Developmental and Health Psychology. Norwich Medical School, UEA
2003 – 2006  Lecturer in Developmental Psychology. School of Psychology, University of East London
2003             Post-doctoral Research Fellow. School of Psychology, University of East London
2001 – 2002  Visiting lecturer. Department of Psychology, Kingston University, London
2001 – 2002  Visiting lecturer. Centre for Social Work and Policy, Sussex University, Brighton

Key Research Interests

Children’s understanding of biology. This research explores children’s ‘naïve theories’ about a number of biological phenomena and how these theories emerge and develop during the school years. I am particularly interested in children's understanding of the human body, of the notion that our body works to keep us alive, and of death as a biological process. I am also interested in how children's culturally-specific experiences, exposure to illness or death, and conversations with adults shape their representations in the biology domain. For more information about this research please see and

The development of children's reasoning about healthy eating and exercise. With colleagues from the Schools of Psychology and Education I am currently completing a large study with primary and secondary school children, and adults, that explores the relationship between understanding of nutrition and physical activity, parental attitudes towards healthy food and exercise, motivation to exercise, and children's/adults' health-related behaviours and physical fitness. We are interested in what children and adults know about the benefits of healthy food and exercise, how they explain these benefits in biological terms, how this knowledge develops with age, and whether it correlates with health behaviours.

Children’s moral development: children's understanding of social rules and authority; the factors that influence children's and adults' moral judgements, such as agents' intentions, their level of negligence (carelessness), and their actions' outcomes; the roles of parenting and peer interaction in the development of moral reasoning.

Children’s understanding of science: this ongoing research concerns the development of children’s scientific ideas, in particular their understanding of the shape of the earth, gravity and the day–night cycle. This research also investigates how different methods of testing (e.g., drawings and model selection tasks, open and closed interviews) influence the way children represent their knowledge. In collaboration with Dr Gavin Nobes at the School of Psychology, UEA, I completed an ESRC funded project that explored the origins of children's knowledge of the earth, the structure of their concepts, and how scientific understanding in the domain of astronomy is acquired

Research keywords

Conceptual development in childhood; Children's theories of biology; Reasoning about nutrition and physical activity; Children’s moral development; Children’s understanding of science

Postgraduate Research Student Supervision 

The development of children’s understanding of nutrition and physical activity

The development of children’s understanding of the human body, life and death

Cultural influences on children’s understanding of biology and health

Parental influences on the way children reason about biology

Areas of Expertise

The development of children's perceptions of health and illness; the development of children's biological theories; children's understanding of the concepts of life and death; communication between children and health professionals.

Teaching Interests

Developmental Psychology
Health Psychology
Consultation Skills
Supervision of students' SSS (Self Selected Studies) in Psychology

Administrative Posts

Senior Adviser for Year 4 MBBS

Student Selected Studies (SSS) Theme Lead for Year 4 (Evidence Based Medicine)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

External examiner, University of East London

1 Sep 201530 Jul 2019


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