Francesco Walker MSc.

Francesco Walker

Francesco Walker was born in Rome, Italy. His interest in research began during his BsC at Rome University La Sapienza, when he was an intern in Prof. Blanke's lab at the EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland).

After completing his BSc with a thesis, pm "Immersive Virtual Reality". Francesco joined VU Amsterdam's Research Master Program in Cognitive Neuropsychology. Eight months after enrolling, he was awarded the 2014/2015 VU Research Fellowship, which enabled him to study with Prof. Theeuwes, a leading specialist in reward and attention. Francesco graduated cum laude. In his master's thesis "The Hunger Games" he investigated the way hunger modulates attention.

In 2015, personal and professional interests brought Francesco to develop a proposal to untangle the close, but almost unknown link between eye-movement behavior and visitors’ perception of art in a museum setting. The project, promoted by VU Amsterdam, resulted in an on-going collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam. This partnership has produced the first ever analysis of the attentional strategies used by adults and children, viewing paintings in an actual museum, demonstrating significant differences between the behaviors of adult and pre-adolescent visitors. Thanks to this project (, Francesco was awarded the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics’ (IAEA)’s Robert Francès Prize 2016 for most outstanding student research contribution.

Francesco has always been interested in applying objective scientific methods to real-life problems. This is one of the reasons he chose to pursue his Ph.D. at the Centre for Transport Studies, University of Twente, where he is investigating human interactions with self-driving cars.

In his spare time, Francesco plays football, volleyball and tennis, and loves riding his Suzuki GSX-R 750 K7. He is also the founder of the first official Amsterdam Roma Club: a supporters club for the AS Roma football team.



Room: Citadel Room H327
Phone: +31 (0) 53 - 489 6460
Phone secretary: +31 (0) 53 - 489 4322

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Position: PhD Candidate


2016– present

PhD Candidate, Centre for Transport Studies, University of Twente


Research Assistant (Prof. J. Theeuwes), Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, VU Amsterdam




VU Research Fellow / student assistant (Prof. J. Theeuwes), Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, VU Amsterdam

Internship, Prof. S. M. Aglioti's lab, University of Rome La Sapienza

Internship (summer program), Prof. O. Blanke's lab, EPFL



Research Master's Degree in Cognitive Neuropsychology cum laude, VU Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Laurea (Bachelor's degree) in Psychology, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy


Diploma di scuola media superiore (high school leaving certificate), ITIS Enrico Fermi Grottaferrata, Italy



i-CAVE (the integrated cooperative automated vehicle)



Self-driving vehicles


Human factors

Immersive virtual reality

Cognitive psychology

Applied psychology

Empirical aesthetics

Art perception




The Robert Francès Award 2016 (24th IAEA Congress of Empirical Aesthetics): Most Outstanding Student Research Contribution.

VU Amsterdam Research Fellow.