Keynote Speakers

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AIMC 2023 Conference Keynote Speakers

Dr Stuart Beattie

Ms Antoinette Caruana

Professor Villy Tsakona

Professor Irene Sciriha

Professor Sandro Lanfranco 


Dr Stuart Beattie, Bangor University, Wales  



ABOUT:  Dr Stuart Beattie is a Senior Lecturer in Performance Psychology at Bangor University in the UK. He works within the Institute for Psychology of Elite Performance in the School of Human and Behavioural Sciences. Stuart's PhD was funded by British Gymnastics where he worked as an applied sport psychologist from 2000-2006. In 2006, Stuart started his academic career at Bangor University. Over the past 17 years, his research and applied work has focussed on aspects of performance under pressure, and protective factors such as mental toughness and resilience. More recently, Stuart has been working with the Youth Justice Services for North Wales designing psychological resilience interventions for YJ case workers to implement in the young people they work with. Stuart recently developed and designed the schools Distance Learning MSc Degree in Performance Psychology recruiting over 100 students in its first three years. Current students (national and international) on this degree range from professions in opera singing, RAF pilots, armed forces, business, sport, NHS, and music (to name a few). 


ABSTRACT:  Mental Toughness, Resilience, and Performance Catastrophes 

It is very likely that at some point in our lives we will witness or indeed experience quite large and sudden catastrophic events. Catastrophes can be regarded as any significant and sudden change in any one variable. For example, one may be able to deal with prolonged periods of stress until reaching what we all know as a breaking point. Once we reach breaking point, changes come about in a quick and dramatic fashion. Something snaps! But when it does, it is often very hard to reverse those effects quickly. Catastrophes are very prevalent in everyday life. For example, catastrophes are often witnessed in sport (e.g., cricket batting collapses), social catastrophes (e.g., ending a friendship), workplace catastrophes (e.g., verbal presentations going wrong, being fired, or terminating your career), personal relationship catastrophes (e.g., a relationship suddenly ending), or wellbeing (e.g., mental breakdown, burnout). No doubt you can think of a few others. Catastrophe models are just that, models. Therefore, you can plug any combining factors in them to predict when a catastrophe on a specific variable may occur.  Hence, the purpose of this presentation is to explore your opinions on what might cause (your own and other) performance catastrophes. How might we prevent them, and what can we do about them when they occur.  

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Ms Antoinette Caruana, Farsons Foundation


Ms Antoinette Caruana 



ABOUT:  Antoinette Caruana MSc (Trg & Dev), BA (Hons), FCIPD, recently retired from the positions of Company Secretary and Group HR Manager of the Farsons’ Group as well as from its Group Executive Board.  She retains board membership of The Brewhouse Co Ltd and Farsons Distribution Co Ltd. Antoinette has held a number of positions in the private sector including the posts of Chief HR Officer of Lufthansa Technik Malta and General Manager, HR of the Brandstaetter Group.  She was also Chief Executive of the newly incorporated government agency, Heritage Malta between 2003 and 2006.  She has specialized in human resource management and development and has also been actively involved in local industrial relations.  Antoinette has consulted with various local organizations and lectured at the Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy, University of Malta.  She served as director of the Central Bank of Malta between 2008 and 2013, and currently serves on the Board of Mapfre Middlesea and of Heritage Malta.  Antoinette also serves as director on the Board of the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers (Caritas Malta).  She also serves as employers’ representative on the Industrial tribunal, was previously a trustee of the Richmond Foundation and a director of the Foundation for Human Resources Development.   She was also chairperson of the Malta Professional and Vocational Qualifications Awards Council, director of the Employment and Training Corporation, and served as a core member of the Malta-EU Steering & Action Committee.  She has addressed and presented papers for international as well as national conferences and contributed to local journals and publications.

ABSTRACT:  The future of work: leadership @ a time of great change

Over the last few years, leaders have been challenged in a way that is unprecedented.  From the sudden shift to remote working to mass resignations, from skills shortages and recruitment challenges to the current cost of living crisis as well as the implications of economic instability and political turmoil, there is little doubt that leaders across organisations have been and are still being challenged across multiple fronts.    This presentation will explore the main transformations taking place in the workplace and within the workforce and the demands being placed upon leaders as a result of these major changes.  There is a call for a different style of leadership to meet the changing expectations of the workforce that have also been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

Whilst key considerations include the areas of flexible and hybrid working, employee wellbeing, diversity, equity and inclusion(DEI), recruitment challenges, the growing focus on employee engagement and digital transformation; there are other trends that have come to the forefront even more recently.  There is a growing focus that is required on enhancing leadership and managerial effectiveness in all organisations; of addressing organisational design and change management; of placing more focus on an improved employee experience; of prioritizing recruitment and retention strategies to attract strong talent that can really support organisations, including academic organisations to achieve their objectives; and in all of this, to be more aware and more explicit in dealing with the demands of the future of work where skills are shifting, talent is scarce, turnover is increasing and shifts in the employee-employer dynamic are evident. 

There is a need to do things differently, to be innovative when coming up with new strategies to deal with the ever-changing world of work.

Professor Villy Tsakona, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens


Prof Villy 



ABOUT:  Villy Tsakona in Associate Professor of Social and Educational Approaches to Language in the Department of Early Childhood Education of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. She received her PhD from the Linguistics Department of the same university (2004) and ever since then she has taught various (socio)linguistics courses in several Greek universities. Her research interests include the sociopragmatic analysis of humorous genres, narrative analysis, media and political discourse analysis, as well as theoretical approaches and applications in the framework of critical literacy. She has published a number of papers in international and Greek journals and conference proceedings, while she has also edited special issues and collective volumes in the above-mentioned research areas (e.g. Tracing the Infiltration of Racist Discourse in Antiracist Discourse: Studies in Liquid Racism [co-edited with Argiris Archakis & Rania Karachaliou, 2023, Pedio Publications, in Greek; Intertextuality and Humor [special issue in the European Journal of Humor Research, co-edited with Jan Chovanec, 2020]; and The Dynamics of Interactional Humor: Creating and Negotiating Humor in Everyday Encounters [co-edited with Jan Chovanec, 2018, John Benjamins]. Recently, she has also authored a monograph on Recontextualizing Humor: Rethinking the Analysis and Teaching of Humor (2020, De Gruyter Mouton) and co-authored The Narrative Construction of Identities in Critical Education (with Argiris Archakis, 2012, Palgrave Macmillan). She is co-editor of the European Journal of Humor Research.

Personal webpage:


ABSTRACT:  Laughing about the pandemic: How could humor research account for internet memes about COVID-19?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most popular ways of commenting on the unusual situations and events that took place was humor. Speakers seemed to perceive and represent as humorous various effects of the pandemic on their lives, social relationships, and political affairs. Such humor was most common in the social media in the form of internet memes (Sebba-Elran 2021, Tsakona 2021). The presentation will concentrate on how and why humor was created and disseminated online during the pandemic, namely on the semiotic particularities and social functions of humorous memes. The analysis of an extensive dataset reveals that meme creators combine visual and verbal features to frame the preventive measures enforced and the respective sociopolitical changes as incongruous (on incongruity as the basis for humor, see Attardo 2020). They aim not only to entertain themselves and their addressees, but also to criticize political decisions and those responsible for them, as well as to cope with the negative feelings they experience due to lockdowns and other preventive measures.

Attardo, S. 2020. The Linguistics of Humor: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sebba-Elran, T. 2021. A pandemic of jokes? The Israeli COVID-19 meme and the construction of a collective response to risk. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 34 (2), 229-257.

Tsakona, V. 2021. The humorous rewriting of Orwell’s 1984: The Greek version. European Journal of Humor Research 9 (4), 58-73.

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Professor Irene Sciriha, University of Malta

Prof. Irene Sciriha 

ABOUT: IRENE SCIRIHA, Ph.D.(Reading UK). Professor of Mathematics—University of Malta (UM). Her main areas of research are in spectral graph theory, combinatorics, mathematical chemistry and linear algebra with applications to quantum mechanics, nanotechnology, computer science and networks. She has the privilege to have joint work with renowned scientists and mathematicians. She has been the head of project: Graph Spectra, Computer Network Design and Electrical Conductivity in Nano-Structures since 2007, and currently leads a team of six  researchers based at the UM. She was formerly president of the European Women in Mathematics Association and vice-chair of the Scientific Committee for Women in Mathematics of the European Mathematical Society. At UM, she served two terms as elected academic representative on council.
Honours– Awardee: Research Excellence Grant: by UM – 2022.
Winner: Lifetime Award for Contribution to STEM 2021.
European Woman Scientist of month: Feb 2020 European Platform of Science.
Featured: the Maltese distinguished mathematician in EU: CNRS and CIJM of France:
Maths Europe Express 2008, 2011 publications;
The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences®(OEIS®) A133236, A133237, A000109and A007083.


ABSTRACT: Nut Graphs are Omni–Conducting Carbon Molecules

Carbon is present in all known forms of life.  Nanoscale carbon molecules have been synthesized and are being used as electronic molecular devices acting as switches. The process of conduction in certain molecules was poorly understood. The theory of the eigenspaces of graphs proved to be crucial to present theories that elucidate both conduction and insulation. Every vertex of a nut graph contributes to the generator of the zero–eigenspace of its adjacency matrix. A nut graph has no periphery. We show that among molecular graphs of nullity one, only nut graphs model strong omniconductors permitting electron flow, at the Fermi level, for all atom terminals.

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Professor Sandro Lanfranco, University of Malta




ABOUT:  Professor Sandro Lanfranco is a vegetation ecologist with a special interest in aquatic ecology and evolutionary processes. He is currently Head of the Department of Biology at the University of Malta, Chair of the Humanities, Medicine and Science Platform (HUMS) at the University of Malta and current president of the European Pond Conservation Network (EPCN). He has authored several peer-reviewed articles, technical reports, book chapters, books and popular contributions, mainly concerning the natural environment.


ABSTRACT: Evolution and the quotidian: the role of natural selection in everyday life

There is little in our everyday routine that is not shaped by natural selection.  Our most mundane behaviours originate in an ancient competition in which strands of DNA persist for longer by out-replicating other strands.  Over the course of their evolutionary history, these strands have combined and recombined into larger, more elaborate conformations, and have constructed complex vectors that promote their collective peristence over time.  These vectors are the bodies of all biological organisms. Clusters of relatively consistent arrangements of strands and molecules represent the ‘species’ in our biosphere.  Each strand and species will only persist for as long as it can replicate itself more successfully than its competitors and, therefore, the vectors that carry the strands engage in a proxy competition that is perceived as being between species but is, more fundamentally, between strands of DNA.

As such, almost every trait of our structure and behaviour is a product of this competition and has been selected for because it confers a fitness advantage on the vector and therefore also on the genes that make it up.  The same broad patterns in structure and behaviour are evident in much of the animal kingdom.

This contribution will explore the evolutionary origins of the ‘quotidian’ in humans, leading to a discussion where informed speculation on future trajectories is possible.