Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit 2020

This is the current team adjusting to new working from home conditions!


Prof. Essi Viding, PhD

Prof. Eamon McCrory, PhD, DClinPsy

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Our research programme aims to combine multiple methods in order to understand the emergence of developmental psychopathology. Essi’s primary research focus is the study of different developmental pathways to persistent antisocial behaviour. Eamon’s primary research focus is the study of how childhood adversity can increase latent vulnerability to later mental health problems. We both, however, work closely across both research themes and are increasingly interested in how both risk and protective factors interact across development.


 Diana Armbruster-Genc



During my PhD at the University of Frankfurt, Germany, I focused on the neural mechanisms of cognitive flexibility and stability using behavioural, fMRI and computational modelling methods. After the completion of my training as a clinical psychotherapist at the University of Frankfurt, I joined the Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit in 2017 to investigate the neurocognitive systems constituting latent vulnerability for mental health problems following early life adversity, how they can be measured, and their neurobiological underpinnings. The long-term aim of my research is to help to identify those children who are in most need of help and to inform the development of prevention methods to promote resilience.

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Louise Neil


I am a post-doctoral researcher, interested in how neurocognitive mechanisms may index risk and resilience for mental health difficulties. My doctoral thesis, from the Thomas Coram Research Unit, investigated teachers’ recognition of anxiety and somatic symptoms, building on previous research into the prevalence and patterning of anxiety and somatic symptoms in children. I started my research career at the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University, on a longitudinal study involving over 700 young people. More recently, I worked on a project into autistic children’s sensory sensitivities with Professor Liz Pellicano at the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (UCL IOE), where I investigated the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty, anxiety and sensory symptoms in children.

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Christina Carlisi


After completing my B.A. at the George Washington University (Washington D.C.), I worked as a research assistant in the Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) investigating the neurobiology of adolescent mood and anxiety disorders. I then completed my PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London in 2017, using fMRI to study shared and disorder-specific neurofunctional abnormalities related to executive function in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I joined the DRRU in September 2017 as a Sir Henry Wellcome postdoctoral fellow supervised by Prof. Essi Viding at UCL, Prof. Ahmad Hariri (Duke University) and Dr. Isabelle Mareshcal (Queen Mary). My project uses structural equation modelling in multidimensional data (e.g. fMRI, DTI, neurocognitive, genetic, clinical) as well as computational methods (e.g. computational modelling, psychophysics) to examine individual differences in the mechanisms of affective processing. I am particularly interested in developing more sensitive measures of these differences to study how psychiatric traits develop across adolescence.

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PhD Studentsce

Annie Gaule



I joined the DRRU in 2018 as a PhD student funded by the Medical Research Council. During my PhD I will be exploring the socio-cognitive mechanisms underlying challenging behaviour in young adolescents using a range of methods. Prior to joining the DRRU I studied BSc Psychology at UCL, during which time I also worked as a research assistant in the Social Perception Research Group at City University of London. Following this, I completed a Dual Masters degree in Brain and Mind sciences between UCL, the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, and the Ecole Normale Supèrieure in Paris. I subsequently spent a year working as a research assistant and translator in the Babylab of the Université Paris Descartes.

Tom Steare


After completing an MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences, I worked as a research assistant at the Division of Psychiatry across a range of different mental health service research projects. In 2020 I was offered a place on the UCL Wellcome 4-year PhD in Mental Health Science programme. During my first year on the programme, I am undertaking rotation projects with different research groups at the Institute of Mental Health across a range of exciting disciplines within mental health science research. At the DRRU I will be working with the team to investigate how certain neurocognitive systems are implicated in the development of mental health problems following childhood adversity. I am particularly interested in the development of mental health problems in children and adolescents, and how we can identify trans-diagnostic mechanisms to inform effective prevention and early intervention strategies.

Research Assistants

Harriet Phillips


I returned to the DRRU as a research assistant in September 2018 after graduating from the University of Bath with a BSc in Psychology in July. During the penultimate year of my undergraduate degree, I completed a placement year at the DRRU. I am currently involved with both projects at the lab, using both fMRI and behavioural measures. The first is investigating reward processing in children with behavioural difficulties and the second is exploring how childhood adversity may later affect emotional and cognitive functioning, in terms of both psychological resilience and vulnerability. I am also completing my MSc in Forensic Mental Health at King’s College London. I am particularly interested in investigating empathy and psychopathy in terms of neural activity and how their development can be influenced by certain risk factors.


Dr. Ruth Roberts

Dr. Vanessa Puetz

Prof. Eleanor Maguire

Prof. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

Dr. Geoff Bird

Dr. Jon Roiser

Dr. Fruhling Rijsdijk

Prof. Craig Neuman

Prof. Mark Dadds

Prof. Peter Fonagy

Prof. Norah Frederickson

Prof. Paul Frick

Prof. Ahmad Hariri

Prof. Linda Mayes

Dr. Andrea Mechelli

Prof. Robert Plomin

Dr. Philip Shaw

Dr. Gregory L. Wallace