Alessandro Toppeta (2019 Cohort)

Alessandro Toppeta

About Me:  I am currently a PhD student in Economics at University College London. I hold a BSc in Economics and Social Sciences from Bocconi University and an MSc in Economics from University College London. I have also been a visiting exchange student at Northwestern University, Department of Economics, during my undergraduate studies. I have taken part in the fieldwork in Ethiopia, North Macedonia and Tunisia.

My Research: I am interested in labour economics, with a focus on human capital accumulation in developed and developing countries. I study the role of expectation formation in fostering investment in skills and reducing poverty.

Supervisor: Professor Pedro Carneiro

Pathway: Economics

Location: Department of Economic


Hannah Wilt (2019 Cohort)

Hannah Wilt

About me: Growing up in California and France in a French-German family, I have always been fascinated by multilingualism and language learning. During my BSc in Psychology and Language Sciences at UCL, I grew a specific interest in the neurological substrates of speech perception, and a strong vocation to become a researcher in the field. I am currently on the MRes Speech, Language and Cognition programme, conducting research on the role of the primary motor cortex (M1) in speech sound learning as well as undertaking training in web programming and machine learning.

My research: Simulation accounts of speech perception suggest that listeners covertly imitate incoming speech stimuli in order to enhance sound perception. This theory is supported by extensive evidence of enhanced activity in articulatory areas of the primary motor cortex (M1) when listening to speech sounds produced by corresponding articulators. My research explores how this phenomenon relates to second language learning. Using a range of tools (Stimulus-Response Compatibility tasks, transcranial magnetic stimulation, machine learning), I aim to answer the following questions: How does M1 activity during non-native speech sound perception evolve through speech perception training? Can individual M1 activity patterns during speech perception training predict training outcomes?

Supervisors: Dr. Patti Adank

Pathway: Linguistics

Location: UCL Speech Hearing and Phonetic Sciences


David Suber (2019 Cohort)



About Me:  My academic background is in history and political science (BA SOAS; MA Tüebingen University & American University in Cairo), with regional focus on the North Africa and Middle East regions. I work as a freelance journalist for various international media through radio, writing and illustration (Rassef22, Middle East Monitor, Al Araby Al Jedeed), as well as being Creative Director of the journalism platform Brush&Bow

My Research: My research focuses on international migration and counter-migration policies, with a focus on the role of applied security measures in EU bordering states, geo-spatial analysis and human rights.  I currently work in UCL’s Security and Crime Science Department.

Such research aims to broaden perspectives on migration as a human historical and political complex phenomenon, undertaking considerations in policy, human rights and international security.

Supervisors: Dr. Ella Cockbain; Dr. Ben Bradford; Dr. James Cheshire


Pathway: Politics and International Relations

Location: UCL Security and Crime Science Department



Abigail Hill (2019 Cohort)



About me: I previously studied at the University of Essex and gained a BA in Criminology and an Msc in International Management before starting my PhD in Human Geography at UCL.

My Research: My research focuses on developing a comprehensive understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics of high-street retailing in Great Britain. Specifically, I am interested in developing a measure of retail vibrancy which can be mapped across the British high streets. The research aims to act as a basis for forecasting changes in British retailing and contribute to the development of  vibrant and sustainable retail spaces.

Supervisors: Dr James Cheshire and Professor Paul Longley

Pathway: Human Geography

Location: UCL Department of Geography




Andy Preston (2019 Cohort)


About me: I am currently studying for an MRes in economics at UCL, before moving onto the PhD programme. I completed my undergraduate degree in economics at the University of Exeter in 2017, and then completed an MSc in economics at UCL in 2018. For the last year, I have been working as an Assistant Economist at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), where I have been involved in analysis on a wide range of tax-related policy issues.

My research: My research focus lies within the field of macroeconomics primarily. I am particularly interested in how workers and households react to the threat of unemployment by changing their spending and saving decisions. Large scale job losses were a particularly notable feature of the Great Recession, and I am interested in how these operate to worsen economic downturns. More generally, I am interested in the effects of heightened uncertainty on the macroeconomy. This was again highly prevalent during the financial crisis, and has plagued the UK economy following the vote to leave the European Union in 2016. I pay particular attention to uncertainty specific to conditions in the labour market conditions, and the detrimental effects this can have. Finally, I am interested in how machine learning techniques can be used in macroeconomics to address a range of questions.

Supervisors: Prof Franck Portier

Pathway: Economics

Location: UCL Department of Economics