F. Walker MSc (Francesco)

PhD Candidate

About Me

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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_KaItdTkEM), 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.

Professional experience

  • 2016– PRESENT: PhD Candidate, Centre for Transport Studies, University of Twente
  • 2015-2016: Research Assistant (Prof. J. Theeuwes), Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, VU Amsterdam
  • 2015: Internship, Prof. S. M. Aglioti's lab, University of Rome La Sapienza
  • 2012-2013: Internship (summer program), Prof. O. Blanke's lab, EPFL
  • 2011: VU Research Fellow / student assistant (Prof. J. Theeuwes), Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, VU Amsterdam


  • 2015 Research Master's Degree in Cognitive Neuropsychology cum laude, VU Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2013 Laurea (Bachelor's degree) in Psychology, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy
  • 2009 Diploma di scuola media superiore (high school leaving certificate), ITIS Enrico Fermi Grottaferrata, Italy


  • 2016 The Robert Francès Award 2016 (24th IAEA Congress of Empirical Aesthetics): Most Outstanding Student Research Contribution.
  • 2014 VU Amsterdam Research Fellow.


Railroad Cars
Eye Movements
Eye Movements


  • Self-driving vehicles
  • Attention
  • Human factors
  • Immersive virtual reality
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Applied psychology
  • Empirical aesthetics
  • Art perception


Walker, F., Verwey, W., & Martens, M. (2018). Benefits of extended peripersonal space during automated driving. Poster session presented at 6th BMW Summer School 2018, Burghausen, Germany.
White, K., Arntzen, M., Walker, F., Waiyaki, F. M., Meeter, M., & Bronkhorst, A. (2017). Noise annoyance caused by continuous descent approaches compared to regular descent procedures. Applied acoustics, 125(October), 194-198. DOI: 10.1016/j.apacoust.2017.04.008
Walker, F., Bucker, B., Anderson, N. C., Schreij, D., & Theeuwes, J. (2017). Looking at paintings in the Vincent Van Gogh Museum: eye movement patterns of children and adults. PLoS ONE, [e0178912]. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178912

UT Research Information System


  • 2016i-CAVE (the integrated cooperative automated vehicle)

Contact Details

Visiting Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Engineering Technology
Horst Complex (building no. 20), room Z208
De Horst 2
7522LW  Enschede
The Netherlands

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Mailing Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Engineering Technology
Horst Complex  Z208
P.O. Box 217
7500 AE Enschede
The Netherlands