People

Professor Susan Leekam

Chair in Autism at Cardiff University and Director of the Wales Autism Research Centre

Previously Sue was Professor of Psychology at Durham University. Before that she held a lectureship and senior lectureship at the University of Kent. Sue is a developmental psychologist and researches the cognitive and behavioural aspects of autism. Sue’s research includes the study of joint attention, theory of mind, repetitive behaviours, imagination, visual orienting, attention control, sensory processing, and anxiety. Her clinical research focuses on the study of autism as a spectrum – a broad dimensional condition, seen across age and ability. With Lorna Wing and Judith Gould she developed and published the diagnostic instrument the Diagnostic Interview of Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO). You can read more here. Sue has just taken retirement and will be working part time at WARC in 2015.

Dr Katherine Shelton

Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Psychology

Katherine has studied and worked at Cardiff University since 1995. She graduated with a BSc in Applied Psychology at Cardiff University in 1999 before completing a PhD on the relationship between inter-parental conflict and children’s adjustment. Her research investigates factors that affect the psychological well-being of vulnerable young people, including children and adolescents. Current projects include knowledge transfer activity related to the mental health needs of young people with experiences of homelessness as well as a study of the early support needs of adoptive families in Wales. She has retained a focus on how aspects of family life affect the well-being of parents and children. She co-supervises Beverley Winn’s doctoral work on the link between couple relationship quality and autism spectrum condition.

Dr Catherine Jones

Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Psychology

She completed her BSc in Psychology at University College London before completing a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience in the Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, University College London’s Institute of Neurology. Catherine has a broad interest in perception and cognition in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developed through her involvement in the Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP) (Charman et al., 2011), a longitudinal investigation of the clinical and psychological profile of ASD. Catherine’s research into ASD focuses on understanding how and why higher-level cognitive and behavioural difficulties manifest in ASD, particularly in sensory, temporal and emotion processing. Her research uses a range of psychological and psychophysiological techniques.

Dr Kate Langley

Lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Psychology

She completed her BA in Psychology at Durham University before completing her PhD at Cardiff University’s Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences. Kate’s research interest focuses on mental health problems in childhood. Kate is interested in risk factors for such problems, specifically Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder and co-occurring problems (such as Autism Spectrum Disorders). Kate is also interested in how the presentation of these problems changes with age and how genetic and environmental risk factors are associated with the developmental course of disorder.

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Dr Elisabeth von dem Hagen

Lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Psychology

Elisabeth completed a BSc in Physics and Physiology at McGill University, Canada, and an MSc in Medical Physics at the University of Toronto, Canada. She then completed a PhD in Psychology at Royal Holloway University of London. Elisabeth’s research is focussed on the perception of social signals like faces and eye gaze, and how these signals are processed in the brain. She’s particularly interested in using neuroimaging to probe the structure and function of brain systems underlying social processing and how these may differ in people with ASD. Her research also looks at the dynamics of social interaction in people with ASD, from both a behavioural and neuroimaging perspective.

Lynda Morgan

WARC Project Manager

Lynda was previously a project manager responsible for the management of the Autism Research Policy and Practice Hub (www.autismrpphub.org). She is now working at WARC one day a week to help in the coordination work of the Centre and ongoing organisation of the RPP Hub. Lynda works actively with parents and the autism community across South Wales and she brings to WARC her community experience from many years of work with autism.

Dr Georgina Powell

Research associate at Cardiff University’s School of Psychology

She completed her BA in Applied Psychology at Cardiff University, before completing her PhD at the university. Georgina’s research looks at the possibility that early deficits in control of attention can influence the onset and progression of certain neurodevelopmental disorders. In particular, difficulties in attention control at a young age could affect social learning and communication development. Georgina is exploring attention abilities in young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Rett Syndrome, and is piloting an attention control training model that uses eye tracking technology. She is also interested in how individual characteristics of developmental level affect training potential and outcome.

Dr Dougal Hare

Dr Dougal Hare 

Reader in Clinical Psychology at Cardiff University

Dougal is a clinical psychologist who has worked in the field of autism and intellectual & developmental disabilities for over 25 years in the NHS and the National Autistic Society. He is currently Research Director for the South Wales clinical psychology training programme based at Cardiff University, where he was recently appointed Reader in Clinical Psychology, having previously worked at the University of Manchester for over 15 years. Dougal’s research interests are in catatonic presentations in ASD & other types of IDDs, circadian rhythm, sleep, activity and movement in IDD, behavioural phenotyping in metabolic ID as well as sense of self, delusional thinking and anxiety in people with high-functioning autism / Asperger’s syndrome. He is also interested in the knowledge and use of neuroscience, genetic and biological models of IDD by clinical psychologists and in training clinical psychologists to work with people with autism and their carers and families.

Professor Dale Hay

Advisory member at WARC and Professor at Cardiff University’s School of Psychology

She graduated with a B.A., magna cum laude, from Allegheny College, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, USA, where she attained a liberal arts degree with a distinction in psychology. Professor Hay received a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she had been supported by a U.S. Public Health Traineeship and an NICHD research assistantship. Currently Dale studies the development of social behaviour from infancy to childhood and the emergence of psychopathology. She leads the Cardiff Child Development Study, a longitudinal study of a community sample of children born in South Wales.

Sarah Carrington

Honorary Research Fellow – School of Psychology , Cardiff University

Sarah was a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the WARC until earlier in 2015 and is now based at the Aston University. She completed her BA in Experimental Psychology and an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford before completing her DPhil in the university’s psychiatry department. Sarah’s research interests include neuroimaging investigation of brain structure and function in Autism Spectrum Disorder and the development of diagnostic tools for use in clinical practice.

Sarah Thompson

PhD student with the Wales Autism Research Centre

She completed her BA in Geography at the University of Sheffield and an MSc in Psychology at the University of Essex. Her PhD will investigate face and emotional processing in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). More specifically, Sarah will examine whether an eye dominance effect (an initial instinct to look to the eyes that is difficult to inhibit) exists in those with ASD.

Beverley Winn

PhD student with the Wales Autism Research Centre

She completed her BSc in Psychology at the University of Wales institute Cardiff (UWIC), and her MSc Health Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The psychology of love and interpersonal relationships is at the core of her research interests. Bev is particularly interested in love and relationship satisfaction in atypical populations such as those with autism spectrum condition (ASC). Family dynamics, mental health and wellbeing also form the platform of her doctoral research.

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Sarah Barrett 

PhD student with the Wales Autism Research Centre

She completed her BA (Hons) in Experimental Psychology at Somerville College, University of Oxford and her MSc in Social Science Research Methods (Psychology Pathway) at Cardiff University. Sarah’s research examines imagination in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and its possible relationship to other aspects of ASD, such as repetitive behaviour and anxiety.

Zoe Williams

PhD student with the Wales Autism Research Centre

Zoe studied a BA in English Literature and History at Cardiff University, and completed the Graduate Diploma in Psychology at the University. Zoe is  interested in looking at the overlap between ASD and ADHD.  Her research will focus on the social difficulties experienced by children with ASD and ADHD, and whether these difficulties are associated with impaired reading skills, particularly reading comprehension.

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Katy Unwin 

PhD student with the Wales Autism Research Centre

Katy completed a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at University of East Anglia. She is now working under the supervision of Dr Catherine Jones and Dr Georgina Powell looking at sensory processing differences in autism and how these differences affect behaviour. She also has funding from Mike Ayres Design to input a purpose built Multi-Sensory Environment at Cardiff University. She will be carrying out research into the workings of these rooms with people with ASD and how the experience of those with ASD can be enhanced within the room.

Silvia Colonna

PhD student with the Wales Autism Research Centre

Silvia completed a BSc in Psychology and MSc in Clinical Psychology at San Raffaele University in Milan. She is currently working on a PhD project aimed at investigating ADHD within a Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) framework. More specifically, her research will focus on neurocognitive, emotional and social functioning of children with ADHD, accounting for genetic and environmental risk factors.

Associate Members

Dr Mirko Uljarevic –  Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre

Profesor Meredith Gattis – School of Psychology, Cardiff University

Dr Sofia Gameiro –  School of Psychology, Cardiff University 

Dr David Mcgonigle –  School of Psychology, Cardiff University 

Associate PhD Members- CCDS group

Amy Paine , Salim Hashmi , Charlotte Robinson 

CCDS PhD's

Former Members of WARC

Dr Christopher Ramsden

Online project manager of the Research Policy and Practice Hub

The Hub aims to engage researchers and non-researchers, raise research awareness, and enable translation of knowledge across areas of expertise to improve outcomes for individuals with autism. Chris completed his BSc in Psychology at Warwick University, followed by an MA in Social Anthropology at the University of Kent. He then completed his PhD at Kent entitled ‘Discursive Approaches to Psychological Stress’. Chris managed the online development of the Research Policy Practice Hub overseeing its structure, functionality and content delivery systems. You can visit the Hub website at www.autismrpphub.org.

Dr Rachel Kent

Completed her PhD at the Wales Autism Research Centre, Cardiff University

Previously completed both her BSc in Psychology and MSc in Social Science Research Methods at Cardiff University. Her research aims to develop and promote research use of the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO). This is a parent-report diagnostic interview used widely in clinical practice to assess individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The DISCO covers a wide range of items on the broader autism spectrum and associated conditions and can be used with adults making it well suited to research.

Dr Louise White

Post-doctoral Research Associate

She has a degree in Experimental Psychology and a DPhil entitled ‘Auditory Temporal Integration’, both from Sussex University. She has worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Sussex University and a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at Kingston Universty, London. Currently Louise was the Project Manager for the Autism Research Policy Practice Hub that was jointly funded by the ESRC and the Welsh Government.