Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit 2022
Prof. Essi Viding, PhD
Prof. Eamon McCrory, PhD, DClinPsy
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.
I joined the DRRU as a Lecturer in October 2021 to support the implementation of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Strategy chaired by Prof. Essi Viding, to co-convene on the Genes and Behaviours course, and to conduct research on the etiological influences and mechanisms that may lead to negative social interactions. I obtained a BSc in Neuropsychological Sciences and Techniques from the University of Turin, Italy, and a MSc in Neuroscience and Neuropsychological Rehabilitation from the University of Padua, Italy. I then completed a PhD in Psychology at Åbo Akademi University, Finland, where my research primarily focused on the genetic and environmental influences on the variance and covariance of various forms of victimization. I also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, where my work mainly involved using brain stimulation to improve neurocognitive deficits associated with offending. The broader goal of my research is to disentangle biological and environmental factors that may increase risk of experiencing and/or perpetrating interpersonal violence, to ultimately improve prevention.
I completed my PhD in Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, where I examined cognitive development in adolescence using a combination of behavioural tasks and computational modelling. Prior to this I obtained an MSc in Psychology from the University of Westminster and a BSc in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Hertfordshire. I joined the DRRU in 2022 to work on the UKRI-funded Re-SET project, led by Prof. Essi Viding and Prof. Pasco Fearon. The aim of this project is to develop a novel, transdiagnostic mental health intervention to prevent the onset of psychopathology in adolescence. I am particularly interested in understanding features of cognition that are associated with psychopathology and whether they are amenable to intervention, with the long-term aim of improving outcomes for young people at risk of developing psychopathology.
I joined the UKRI-funded Re-SET project (led by Prof. Essi Viding and Prof. Pasco Fearon) as a postdoctoral research fellow in March 2022. My role on this project is focused more on the social network and longitudinal data analysis. Prior to joining the team, I completed my PhD in Psychology at King’s College London, as well as a Masters in Counselling Psychology at NCTU in Taiwan and a BSc in Psychology at McGill University in Canada. Using structural equation modelling and network analysis, my PhD project investigated how early child characteristics predict later-life outcomes across different domains (i.e. interpersonal, mental health, socioeconomic).
I am a post-doctoral research fellow working on the MRC-funded UCL Prosocial Project, led by Professor Essi Viding. The UCL Prosocial Project focuses on understanding how positive emotional signals are processed in adolescence. It also investigates whether promoting sensitivity to positive emotional signals can increase prosocial behaviours and reduce disruptive behaviours in adolescents who present with challenging behaviors. Prior to this, I completed my PhD in the UCL Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit, where I used a range of methods to study social cognition in adolescents with conduct problems. My main interest is in better understanding individual differences in information processing that are associated with developmental psychopathology, and in understanding how these individual differences influence treatment outcomes. I am particularly interested in research that has the potential to lead to strategies that can support parents and educators.
I joined the DRRU in Sept 2021 as a Research Coordinator for The ReSET project – building resilience through socio-emotional training. Prior to this, I obtained a BSc in Psychology and Criminology from University of Lincoln, followed by an MSC in Developmental Disorders at Lancaster University. I worked as a Research Assistant at Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit, studying single-sided deafness in adulthood, followed by a role at University of Leicester on the SHIPS study – Screening to improve Health In very Preterm infantS. I then joined UCL in 2018 as a Research Assistant on the Surrey Communication and Language in Education study (SCALES), a longitudinal cohort study to examine language development from school entry to Year 8.
I joined the Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit in 2021 as a PhD student on the Developmental Neuroscience and Mental Health programme. Prior to this, I completed an undergraduate degree in psychology at King’s College London where I undertook a placement year working as a research assistant investigating the effects of trauma in a male prison population. After my undergrad, I completed an MRes in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology across UCL, the Anna Freud Center and Yale University where I focused my masters thesis on the computational mechanisms of trust in borderline personality disorder. Currently, my interests relate to child maltreatment and the neurocomputational mechanisms underpinning learning, memory and social cognition across development and psychiatric disorders, and the process of leveraging these mechanisms to promote successful therapeutic change.
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.
I joined the DRRU in 2022 as a research assistant to work on the Re-SET project (building resilience through socio-emotional training), led by Prof. Essi Viding and Prof. Pasco Fearon. Prior to this, I obtained a BSc in Psychology, followed by an MSc in Health Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Throughout my time at University and early career, I developed an interest in developmental psychology. In particular, exploring psychosocial factors that are associated with developmental psychopathology, and considering how these factors influence mental health effects. Overall I am really interested in research which has the scope to inform approaches aimed to support parents, educators and clinicians.
In September 2022, during the penultimate year of my BSc in Psychology at the University of Bath, I joined the DRRU as an Honorary Research Assistant. Throughout my first two years at university, I developed an interest in developmental psychology. In particular, the mechanisms underlying childhood psychopathology and the application of research in this area and how it helps children and their families. I am involved in the conduct problem branch of the lab, mainly working on the Prosocial Project, which is investigating how adolescent boys with conduct problems and callous-unemotional traits process positive affect.
In September 2022, during the final semester of my BA in Mathematics and Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, I joined the DRRU as an Honorary Research Assistant. I am working on the Prosocial Project, which aims to promote prosocial behaviour in children with conduct problems. While in school, I developed an interest in developmental psychology, something I am excited to explore throughout my time at the DRRU.
Dr. Philip Shaw
Dr. Gregory L. Wallace