Date of release: Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Professor Paul WardA leading expert in the study of split-second decision-making under stress has joined the University of Greenwich as Head of the Centre for Sports Science & Human Performance.

Internationally known for his pioneering work within elite sports, Professor Paul Ward has also researched senior professionals who make these type of decisions in high-pressure situations, such as soldiers, police officers and surgeons.


As a chartered psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, his research focuses on understanding the parts of the mind that support skilled or heightened performance, especially in relation to people’s ability to consistently make correct decisions in lightning-quick time and even to anticipate events.

He has spent the past 12 years both teaching and researching in the United States and joins Greenwich from Michigan Technological University. Alongside his new position within the university’s School of Science, based at Medway, he is also Professor of Psychology.

While at Michigan, he created a series of highly controlled video simulations, designed to contrast the performance of new police recruits with veteran officers, and will continue this important work into decision-making in his new role. “The ultimate goal is to improve the performance of those who make critical decisions on a daily basis. It’s one way to build a better, safer world,” he says.

Former roles include that of perceptive-cognitive skill consultant for the United States Olympic Committee and the USA Shooting Team.

Professor Ward says he is delighted to be returning to the UK and joining forces with Greenwich. “One of my passions is to carry out scientific research that has a definite use for people and society, and in this I have found my perfect match with Greenwich,” he says. “One of the parts of my job I am looking forward to most is in working with students on real-world problems, and developing the skills they will be taking into industry. Nothing is more exciting than applying our minds to real-world problems, and nothing drives science as much as this.”

Widely published on the topic of cognitive systems and skilled performance, he is the co-author of an upcoming book entitled Accelerated Expertise: Training for High Proficiency in a Complex World. His research has featured within international media including the BBC, ESPN magazine, Nature Online and NPR talk radio.

The School of Science runs a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes, offering world-class professors, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and excellent links to industry.

A study last year by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), published on the Daily Telegraph website, ranked Sports Science at the University of Greenwich seventh in the UK in a list of such courses most respected by employers.

To find out more about studying with the School of Science: www.gre.ac.uk/about/schools/science, email courseinfo@greenwich.ac.uk or call 020 8331 9000.

Story by Public Relations

Picture: Paul Ward, University of Greenwich.