I’m a developmental psychologist, working at the University of Edinburgh, and the main writer on this site. For the moment, all of the projects featured here involve me fairly heavily – some of them are my PhD students and others are studies where I’m a co-investigator or principal investigator. So you should contact me if you have any questions or comments. If you are looking for a PhD supervisor please check my page for students. I’m also available on Twitter and you can see me talking awkwardly about some of my research here.
I first became interested in developmental disabilities, and autism in particular, through my work with the Oundle School Mencap Holiday, an organisation I’ve been volunteering with since 1997 and of which I became a trustee from 2006-2016. Inspired by OSMH, I am continuing this work by launching a similar charity in Scotland to provide residential holidays for children and young people with learning disabilities.
As an undergraduate I studied Psychology at the University of St Andrews, and then went on to a Masters and PhD at Durham University, where I was fortunate to be supervised by the wonderful Professor Sue Leekam. My PhD research explored the spontaneous social attention preferences of typically-developed adults and adolescents, and those with ASD, using a range of methods, including verbal descriptions, change blindness and eye-tracking. Since then I have worked under the fabulous mentorship of Professor Helen McConachie including a recently-completed Nuffield Fellowship which funded the Click-East project. I’m now a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh based in the Patrick Wild Centre. I’ve also recently become a trustee of Scottish Autism and am working closely with this organisation’s efforts to inspire and contribute to evidence-based practice in Scotland.
You can access my staff profile here and see a full list of academic publications here and highlights at the bottom of this page. I also have a profile on ResearchGate and on Academia.edu Other academic outputs can be found at this page for researchers and public engagement outputs are available at the Find Out More pages.
Public engagement is very important to me and I try to provide useful insights into research and exposes of the truth behind the headlines in the DART blog. In 2013/14 I recorded three podcasts on academic public engagement, with a colleague, Jen Ross, which can be heard at the links below, in which we describe some of our thoughts about the role of public engagement in academic life: January 2014, October 2013, and August 2013
My research interests include:
- Cognitive and behavioural approaches to understanding typical and atypical development
- Social attention; visual attention; processing stimulus complexity; sensory integration; all in persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and typically-developing children and adults
- Interventions: technology-based intervention and education for individuals with ASD; Theory of Mind based interventions for ASD
- Methodology: eye-movement recording; change blindness; methods in the study of attention in typical and atypical development; randomised controlled trials
- Early identification of cognitive and behavioural difficulties in infancy (including the use of MRI and eye-tracking)
- Outcome measures for clinical research with individuals with ASD
Recent publications (for a full list see this page)