Contact Dr Marie Cahillane

Areas of expertise

  • Human Factors for Defence


Dr Cahillane joined Cranfield University as a Research Fellow in 2008 and was appointed as Lecturer in Applied Cognitive Psychology in 2011, Head of the Applied Psychology Group in 2013 and Senior Lecturer in Applied Cognitive Psychology in 2018. As Principal Investigator she has led 17 research projects and collaborated as Co-Investigator on a further 15 projects. Research has been funded by the Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre (DHCSTC) and the Human Factors Integration - Defence Technology Centre (HFIDTC).

Research includes individual and team/collective skills acquisition and retention, technology in support of learning and questioning methods in information gathering processes to mitigate cognitive bias. Past research includes Human-Computer Interaction in the Control of Payload on Multiple Simulated Unmanned Vehicles, and the frequency and impact of miscommunications arising from cultural variations in language use between UK and US coalition forces (jointly funded by the MOD and US DoD through the International Technology Alliance).

Marie completed a PhD in Experimental Cognitive Psychology at Bath Spa University, which focused on the effect of irrelevant background sound on tasks involving short-term memory. The tasks looked at how speech, presented while a person performs a serial recall task, is more disruptive than other sounds. Conclusions were couched in terms of our understanding of how speech is processed and how the human memory system works. This research has direct applications for the design of optimal working environments for the retention and recall of information. Applications include the design of automated systems delivering visual and auditory information, where distraction by untimely auditory objects whilst attending to relevant visual information attenuates cognitive performance, e.g. in aircraft cockpits.

Whilst conducting her doctoral research at Bath Spa University, Marie lectured part-time in psychology where she taught across the British Psychological Society accredited undergraduate Honours Degree, after which she held a fixed-term lectureship.

Current activities

As Head of the Applied Psychology Group, Dr Cahillane leads research on human cognition. She is currently leading research on:

The exploitation of human cognitive vulnerabilities in online content (funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) through the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) Phase 1 Behavioural Analytics Themed Competition);

Knowledge and skills acquisition and retention

Marie works to develop strong partnerships with clients in defence and industry and applies expertise in cognitive psychology to address MOD stakeholder requirements. She actively works to disseminate her research through peer reviewed publications and speaking at conferences/symposia.

Research-led teaching includes:

Quantitative research methods, experimental design and statistical analysis online education and assessment for the Cyber Masters Programme (CMP) research methods module.

Quantitative research methods lectures for the residential dissertation workshop on the CMP and Information Capability Management (ICM) MSc.

Lectures on human decision making for the Advanced Staff Command Course (ACSC), the Intermediate Command Staff Course (ICSC) Land and Maritime at the Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC).

Cognitive Psychology for the Military Aerospace and Airworthiness (MAA) MSc Introduction to Human Factors module

Dr Cahillane is a member of the Cranfield University Research Ethics Committee (CUREC) which oversees the University's research policy and practices.


  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
  • Defence and Security Accelerator (MOD)
  • BAE Systems PLC
  • British Army
  • Joint Services Command and Staff College


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers