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Kelly Jakubowski

Associate Professor in Music Psychology, Durham University

Kelly Jakubowski is an Associate Professor in Music Psychology. Her research examines a range of topics within music psychology and empirical musicology, including memory for music, music-evoked autobiographical memory, musical imagery and imagination, earworms, absolute pitch, musical timing and movement, and cross-cultural music perception. Together with Professor Tuomas Eerola, she co-leads Durham’s Music and Science Lab, an interdisciplinary research group united by interests in empirical, computational, and biological approaches to understanding music listening and music making.

Kelly studied Music Performance (violin) and Music Theory for her undergraduate (Baldwin Wallace University, USA) and Masters degrees (Ohio State University, USA). She then pursued an MSc and PhD in music psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her PhD research (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) focused on developing new behavioural and computational methods for studying musical imagery and involuntary memory for music (including the phenomenon of having an “earworm”, or tune stuck in one’s head). She has also published research on absolute pitch, memory for musical pitch and tempo, and musical synchronisation and entrainment. In 2015, she was awarded the Hickman Early Career Researcher Award for her PhD research on temporal aspects of involuntary musical imagery, which included a plenary session talk at the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM) conference in Manchester, UK.

In 2018, Kelly was awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship for a 3-year project entitled “Prevalence, features, and retrieval of music-evoked autobiographical memories”. This project used multiple methodologies (online surveys, diary studies, experiments) for collecting a large and diverse dataset of lifetime memories triggered by listening to music, thus enabling a more systematic understanding of the conditions under which these memories occur and expanding theoretical accounts of the interactions between music, memory, and emotions.

Other previous academic posts include Postdoctoral Research Associate in Music at Durham (AHRC-funded ‘Interpersonal Entrainment in Music Performance’ project), Teaching Fellow in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Visiting Lecturer in Music at King’s College London.


  • 2018–present
    Assistant professor, Durham University