Find out more about our lab members.
Meet the team
Professor Emily Farran
Professor in Developmental Psychology
I completed my PhD at the University of Bristol in 2001. I then took on a lectureship position at the University of Reading. I then moved to the UCL Institute of Education in 2008, before joining the University of Surrey in 2018. My research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Education Endowment Fund, the Waterloo Foundation, Autour des Williams, the Williams Syndrome Foundation, and Fondation Jerome Lejeune.
Dr Katie Gilligan-Lee
Lecturer in Developmental Psychology
Katie completed an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin (2012) followed by a MPhil in Psychology and Education at the University of Cambridge (2013). She obtained her PhD in Developmental Psychology from University College London (UCL) before joining the University of Surrey as a Lecturer in October 2018.
Current lab members
Olatz Oojinaga Alfageme
Graduate Research Associate
I am a first year PhD student under the supervision of Professor Michael Thomas at Birkbeck, University of London, Professor Mary Rutherford at King’s College London, and Professor Emily Farran at UCL IOE, funded by a Bloomsbury Colleges Studentship. During my PhD I will be investigating how fetal and neonatal structural neuroanatomy may predict cognitive development in infancy and early childhood, in babies with Down syndrome. I will be using several MRI techniques, as well as development assessment tools, such as eye-tracking and neuropsychological assessment batteries.
My broader research interests are Developmental Cognitive Neurosciences, specially studying how early brain development or biomarkers and traumatic events can affect later cognitive abilities both in typical and atypical children. I am also interested in Research policy, and more precisely, studying how psychological findings can be translated and applied in everyday life settings and activities.
Apart from doing the PhD, I am also a volunteer for the Junior Researcher Programme (JRP) organising team, a global initiative intended for students and early career researchers in psychology and behavioural sciences. This program seeks to support six research projects which are developed during the jSchool, an annual summer school, and carried out over the following year – precisely 13 months. I am the Research Officer for the 2019-2020 cohort, and my main responsibilities include coordinating and preparing the Research Supervisors and Junior Researchers prior to and during the 13 month duration of the 2019-20 JRP Cohort of research projects, and coordinating dissemination plans for all 2019-20 JRP research teams, including the methodology papers for the partner journal, European Journal of Psychological Assessment and Conference.
Ruggeri, K., Bojanić, L., van Bokhorst, L., Mareva, S., Ojinaga Alfageme, O., & Jarke, H. (2019). Advancing methods for psychological assessment across borders: Guidance for early career researchers designing reproducible science. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 503. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00503
Grau-Sánchez, J., Foley, M., Hlavová, R., Muukkonen, I., Ojinaga-Alfageme, O., Radukic, A., … and Hundevad, B. (2017) Exploring Musical Activities and Their Relationship to Emotional Well-Being in Elderly People across Europe: A Study Protocol. Frontiers inPsychology,8:330. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00330
Ojinaga Alfageme, O, Kolesnik, A., & Jones, E. (March 9, 2019). Investigating the Relationship of Infant Sleep Quality, Resting State EEG Responses, and Cognitive Development. Poster presented at the 3rd International Convention of Psychological Sciences, Paris, France.
Ojinaga-Alfageme, O., Foley, M., Hlavová, R., Muukkonen, I., Radukic, A., Spindler, M., … & Grau-Sánchez, J. (July 18, 2017). Exploring musical activities and their relationship to emotional well-being in elderly people across Europe: a study protocol. Poster presentation for The Neuroscience and Music – VI, Music, Sound and Health Conference, Boston, MA.
Ruggeri, K., Ojinaga-Alfageme, O., Benzerga, A., Berkessel, J., Hlavoá, R., Kunz, M., … & Folke, T. (2018). Chapter 2: Evidence-based policy. In Ruggeri, K. (Ed.). Behavioral Insights for Public Policy: Concepts and cases. Routledge.
Ruggeri, K., Radukić, A., Ojinaga-Alfageme, O., Zupan, Z., Verra, S., & Petrova, D. (2018). Chapter 6: Health & Healthcare. In Ruggeri, K. (Ed.). Behavioral Insights for Public Policy: Concepts and cases. Routledge.
I am in the final year of PhD studies at UCL Institute of Education, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. My studies are supervised by Professor Emily Farran and Dr Emma Sumner (formerly Professor Liz Pellicano) of the Department of Psychology and Human Development, UCL Institute of Education.
I am interested in the proposed link between vision and motor control, and my current research investigates whether visual tracking abilities and the predictive control of eye movements are impaired in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), and whether this relates to their motor difficulties. Working with children aged 5-15, I am in the process of profiling typical and atypical development of oculomotor control as well as assessing motor skills across a range of domains (fine and gross motor, balance etc.). I am interested in how we can encourage children’s development of visuomotor skills for use in everyday life (at school, in the home). In particular, those with DCD struggle with skills that most children find easy (such as throwing and catching). Therefore, based on the findings of my first study, the next step in my PhD is to think about the root of these difficulties and how they can be overcome in everyday life.
My previous work in the lab has included a cross-sectional study looking at the development of mathematical ability in children with cerebral palsy.
(Critten, V., Campbell, E., Farran, E., & Messer, D. (2018). Visual perception, visual-spatial cognition and mathematics: Associations and predictions in children with cerebral palsy. Research in developmental disabilities, 80, 180-191).
I am currently completing the final year of my PhD under the supervision of Professor Emily Farran of the University of Surrey, and Professor Andrew Tolmie, at the Department of Psychology and Human Development, Institute of Education, UCL. In my research, I work with individuals with Williams Syndrome (a rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorder), individuals with Down Syndrome and typically developing children.
My previous research investigated motor abilities in WS, finding a significant delay in motor ability, with individuals with WS aged 12-50 performing to a similar level to a typically developing 4-5-year-old on a range of fine and gross motor tasks. I also found that this poor motor ability is related to poor small scale spatial ability in this group.
My current research will be exploring motor ability further by looking at the potential effect of anxiety on motor ability, and whether poor motor ability is impacting daily living ability in individuals with WS and individuals with DS.
My research is funded by the ESRC and by the Williams Syndrome Foundation, UK.
Dr Emily McDougal
Emily completed her PhD in Developmental Psychology at Durham University (2015-2019). Her thesis investigated the role of attention in learning in autism, which utilised both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Shortly after submitting her thesis in June 2019, Emily began her first postdoctoral position at University of Edinburgh. This project focused on the development and feasibility testing of the ‘Edinburgh Psychoeduation Intervention for Children (EPIC)’, where she worked with children with ADHD and their teachers to develop a toolbox-based intervention aimed to support cognition and learning in the classroom. Emily joined University of Surrey in May 2021 as a postdoctoral researcher on the Block Construction Skills for Mathematics (BLOCS) project, examining the link between spatial skills, Lego block construction and mathematics achievement.
Graduate Research Assistant
I am a research assistant working on the BLOCS project. This study investigates the relationship between block construction skills, spatial skills, and maths skills in children, and whether a child’s spatial and maths skills can be improved by a Lego intervention. My roles are varied but include data collection, designing materials, and liaising with participating schools. Prior to beginning my post as a research assistant, I completed a Psychology BSc. degree at the University of Surrey. As a part of my degree, I spent a placement year working in the CogDev Lab.
I am an Undergraduate Psychology student at the University of Surrey, currently on a placement year in the CoGDev Lab. Under supervision of Dr Katie Gilligan-Lee my position as an honorary research assistant includes supporting a variety of different research projects. At all dissimilar stages of research this placement is an incredible opportunity to test my current skills and knowledge, as well as prepare me for my final year.
I am extremely excited for the year ahead of me, with the current projects already giving me a great insight of what a research role would be like. Namely the Children's perceptions of Scientist and Fragile X projects have greatly influenced my opinion and motivation to peruse a career in research.
I am an undergraduate student at the University of Bath, currently undertaking a placement year in the CoGDev Lab under the supervision of Dr Katie Gilligan-Lee. My position as an honorary research assistant involves supporting multiple ongoing research projects within the lab. The role has been an incredible opportunity to contextualise, apply and advance skills I have learnt from my studies, helping me prepare for my final year dissertation and giving me fantastic insight into what a career in research entails.
I am a BSc Psychology student at the University of Surrey and I am currently completing my placement as a research assistant in the CoGDeV Lab, under the supervision of Dr Emily Farran. I am really looking forward to being involved with the different projects throughout the year, challenge myself within my work and learn as much as possible.
This placement will be excellent experience and preparation for not only going into my final year of my degree, but also for my career aspirations of becoming a Clinical Psychologist, with hopes to specialise in Autism and ADHD. I am really excited and grateful to work within such a great lab and with such great people.
I am a BSc Psychology student at the University of Surrey, completing my placement year as a research assistant in the CoGDeV lab. I will be working on a range of projects, primarily the BLOCS study investigating the effects of Lego on children’s mathematical and spatial abilities. I am very excited for this opportunity where I will have the chance to experience research first hand, from in-person testing to statistics and coding. This placement is a great way to prepare for the final year of my degree and has helped me to discover my specific interest in developmental psychology.
Sarah was a placement student from 2021 to 2022 in the CoGDeV Lab.
Andrew was a placement student from 2021 to 2022 in the CoGDeV Lab.
Becky was an undergraduate psychology student at the University of Surrey and completed her placement in the CoGDeV Lab working under Prof Farran. She was involved in a range of projects, including working on Dr Gilligan-Lee’s Spatial Training Project, the Spatial Reasoning Toolkit, the Block Construction Skills for Mathematics (BLOCS) project, and the University of Surrey’s Inaugural Open Research Event.
Charlotte was a placement student from 2021 to 2022 in the CoGDeV Lab.
Kathryn was a postdoc who worked in the CogDev Lab.
Megan was an undergraduate student at the University of Surrey studying BSc Psychology. They were on placement in the CoGDeV Lab working for Dr. Katie Gilligan-Lee where they assisted the lab with current research projects. This includes looking into technology use in individuals with Down syndrome and Williams syndrome.
Iliana was a BSc psychology student at the University of Surrey completing their placement as a research assistant under the supervision of Professor Emily Farran. Alongside helping out with several different cognitive development research projects and raising awareness of Open Research within the university, their duties largely included helping out with the Block Construction Skills for Mathematics (BLOCS) project which explores whether children’s physical and virtual engagement with Lego is linked to their maths and spatial skills.
Afreen worked as a research assistant in the CoGDev Lab, under the supervision of Dr. Katie Gilligan-Lee. They worked on an online misconceptions study of maths and science in adults.
Badri was an Honorary Research Assistant who worked in the CogDev lab.
Oscar was a postgraduate research assistant working in the CoGDeV Lab with Emily Farran and Camilla Gilmore. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationships between Lego construction ability, mathematics ability and a number of mediating abilities.
Aan worked as a research assistant at the CoGDeV lab under the supervision of Professor Emily Farran.
Her interests are in neurodevelopmental disorders and neuropsychology, especially in children.
Ashley was a placement student who worked on “STORM open research”, “Embedded Cognition spatial training” and “The use of technology in Down Syndrome”. She is currently in her final year of her undergraduate course at the University of Surrey.
Alice was a placement student who worked on various projects including “STORM open research”, “BLOck Construction Skills for Mathematics (BLOCS)” and “The use of technology in Down Syndrome”. She is currently completing her undergraduate Psychology degree at the University of Surrey.
Lewis was a placement student who worked on “BLOck Construction Skills for Mathematics (BLOCS)” and Open Research projects. He is currently in his final year of his undergraduate Psychology degree at the University of Surrey.
Jenna was a graduate Researcher who worked on ‘A disconnect between motor milestone achievement and motor development in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’. She is currently working as an Assistant Psychologist.
Rebecca was a volunteer research assistant who helped with recruitment on ‘A disconnect between motor milestone achievement and motor development in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’.
Pari was a placement student who was involved in several projects related to spatial language.
Jay was a placement student who worked on a number of projects including “The developmental relationship between motor skills and large scale spatial knowledge”.
Alex was a PhD student. He investigated the role of spatial thinking skills in science, and in particular, the scientific understanding, skills and knowledge of primary school aged children. He is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oxford.
Riya was a placement student who worked on various projects in the lab.
Aislinn was a research assistant on “The developmental relationship between motor skills and large scale spatial knowledge”. She is currently studying for her PhD.
Samantha was a placement student who built the first version of this website. She worked on various projects related to spatial categories and spatial language.
Louise was a Postdoctoral Researcher who worked on ‘Understanding the development of face processing’ (PI: Marie Smith, Birkbeck). She is currently a lecturer at the University of East Anglia.
Charles was a visiting researcher who took part in various educational neuroscience seminars/workshops and was a part of an educational neuroscience research project that focused on improving the learning of primary science and mathematics. He has returned to the Academy of Singapore Teachers, Ministry of Education, Singapore.
Kerry was a Postdoctoral Researcher who worked on two projects: “Depth perception” and “Project ELSTRAD”. Kerry also completed her PhD with Emily.
Jo was a PhD student who investigated Problem solving in WS and DS. She is currently taking a career break to look after her young family.
Hannah was a PhD student who focused on the use of virtual environments to examine the development of navigation skills in both typically developing children and individuals with Williams Syndrome (WS). She is currently studying for her Doctorate in Education, to become an Educational Psychologist.
Susie was a Postdoctoral Researcher who worked on “Route learning in virtual environments”. Susie also completed her PhD with Emily. She is currently a primary school teacher.