Siri Leknes’ annotated CV


Click on each item below for behind-the-scenes information on hiccoughs + clashes between life and career priorities (full annotated CV here)

Professor of Social and Affective Neuroscience
  • I unsuccessfully applied for at least four tenured positions in my department before I got this one in 2016
  • Norway doesn’t typically use a tenure track system, so you just have to try to stay funded through project grants until it’s your ‘turn’ to get a tenured job
Postdoctoral positions (2008-2016)
  • I chose to postdoc in Oslo to be near my family for the last years of my mothers life
  • I experienced a large adademic culture shock upon arrival in Oslo, and missed the thriving research environment of my D.Phil at FMRIB enormously
Dept. Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway
  • When invited to give a public job talk for my position, I was on leave with 6-week-old twin babies.
  • Despite working in the public sector of one of the world’s most family friendly countries, I did not dare risk asking for my job talk to be postponed until I had fully recovered from childbirth.
Universities of Gothenburg and Oslo
  • My first postdoc in Oslo was a complete disaster and it took years to recovery the confidence I lost during nine months with a bad mentor
  • I will forever be grateful to Håkan Olausson who gave me a job in Gothenburg and allowed me to ‘commute’ there once a month whilst remaining close to my family in Oslo


MSc + D.Phil in Neuroscience (2003-2008)
  • The MSc was probably the most stressful period of my academic life
  • In contrast, the D.Phil period was delightful, mainly due to the supervision of Irene Tracey who gave me lots of academic freedom and encouragement
BSc Cognitive Science (1999-2002)
  • Exeter is such a tremendously boring little town, my globetrotting 21-year-old self had nothing to do except study. So I did. Whilst regretting not having applied to the same program at UCL …
University of Oxford, UK
  • The professor whose research interests aligned most with mine was known to overstep barriers (#MeToo) and I was warned off by (most) other professors
  • Instead I lucked out with Irene Tracey. I strongly advise all trainees to ask around about any potential mentors before joining a lab.
University of Exeter, UK
  • I took 3 gap years to travel the world before university. It was glorious.


Successful grants
  • ERC Starting Grant
  • 5 PhD & postdoc grants from the Regional Health Authority
  • One researcher grant from national research council
Unsuccessful grants
  • ~2 yearly applications to national research council for ten years = 20 straight rejections. They even rejected the proposal that won me an ERC.
  • Other highlights: I also had the dubious honor of being the one applicant out of 9 finalists to the Lundbeck Foundation whose grant was rejected
  • I gave up counting my rejected proposals, too depressing! However some rejected proposals were recycled (and refined) and eventually funded elsewhere


The Daniel M. Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize
  • I’ve never applied for an award, nor do I really feel I understand their role in academic careers
  • I lucked out by collaborating with the wonderful Brock Bastian, who nominated and secured us this award for the most innovative theoretical contribution to social/personality psychology in 2015


Invited plenaries
  • I’ve given two, the first as an early postdoc. I made the mistake of complying with instructions: give a talk on the future of neuroimaging. Trouble was, I had no idea about the future of neuroimaging (still don’t). I stayed up all night and stumbled through, eliciting this classic response from the organiser: ‘You know, it’s good to practice the talk before giving it’
Conference talks
  • Numerous, e.g. at S4SN, SfN, IASP, EBPS meetings, typicallyafter I’ve organised a symposium proposal. I still don’t really understand how these are evaluated or how to get invited to more proposals organised by other people.
Invited seminars
  • Numerous, e.g. departmental seminars at Utrecht, Yale, Hamburg. Most were fine but at least one still makes me cringe whenever I think about it. My main advice on giving talks is adding only a bit of new material at a time (it’s that or to practise a lot).

Commissions of trust

Board member, Society for Social Neuroscience
  • I signed up for this on an impulse. It takes time but the other people on the board are fantastic and I’m excited about being able to suggest and implement changes to research incentive structure, e.g. new awards for Open Science practices such as publishing null findings or sharing data and code
Grant reviewer & grant committee member
  • Reviewing grants is super useful for learning grantsmanship. Especially for ERC grants, which differ a lot from other grants. I now get invites from many European research funders and usually accept.
  • Maybe if I stopped submitting to every deadline of my national research agency, I could review for them and finally crack the code 🙂
Associate Editor, Pain (current); SCAN (2016-2020)
  • How to get an editorial role is not widely known, and seems to depend on who you know in the field. I know my name was suggested to the SCAN EiC by a friendly colleague I’d originally met via my D.Phil supervisor.


  • I’m not good at coding.
  • I prefer editing text. This is a priviledge as a PI.
  • Academia throws rejection in your face round the clock. I once got a desk rejection on Christmas Eve!
  • What helps me past each disappointment is my colleagues and trainees. They’re so brilliant, there’s simply no way I can be as useless as I sometimes feel
  • Supervise good people who like your mentoring style
  • My mentoring style is erratic, fiercely loyal, and works well because my trainees are and have been fantastic. I warn them about my shortcomings before they join the team. Also now the rest of the team helps make up for my flaws.


Track record
  • Aiming high is the only way to win the publishing lottery. It does not always pay off though. My personal record started with submission to Science and was eventually published at PLoS ONE.
  • Don’t check your citations outside of Google Scholar, it’s depressing. Also don’t check the nature of the specific publications citing your work according to Google Scholar …