Skip to main content

Dr Kelly Jakubowski

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Music  


Kelly Jakubowski is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow undertaking a project entitled ‘Prevalence, features, and retrieval of music-evoked autobiographical memories’. This research employs multiple methodologies for collecting a large and diverse dataset of lifetime memories triggered by listening to music, with the aims of gaining a more systematic understanding of the conditions under which these memories occur and expanding theoretical accounts of the interactions between music, memory, and emotions.

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. Kelly is on the Editorial Board of Empirical Musicology Review, and has served as an Editor for the journals Music & Science and Music Performance Research and as Advisor to the Executive Committee of the SysMus conference series.

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.


Research interests

  • Music and memory
  • Musical imagery
  • Musical timing, rhythm, and movement
  • Absolute pitch
  • Cross-cultural music research


Chapter in book

  • Jakubowski, K. (2020). Musical Imagery. In The Cambridge Handbook of the Imagination. Abraham, A. Cambridge University Press. 187-206.
  • Frieler, K., Jakubowski, K. & Mullensiefen, D. (2015). Is it the song and not the singer? Hit song prediction using structural features of melodies. In Yearbook of Music Psychology (Jahrbuch Musikpsychologie). Auhagen, W., Bullerjahn, C. & von Georgi, R. Hogrefe. 25.
  • Williamson, V.J. & Jakubowski, K. (2014). Earworms. In Music in the Social and Behavioural Sciences. Thompson, W.F. Los Angeles: Sage.

Journal Article

Supervision students