Staff in the Autism and Development Team
Staff in the Autism and Development Team are as follows:
Greg Pasco, PhD
Greg is a postdoctoral researcher who works primarily on the British Autism Study of Infant Siblings (BASIS). His interests include issues around the early identification and diagnosis of autism, early language and social communication in typically developing children, as well as in children at risk for autism spectrum disorders. Greg is a former speech and language therapist, and has worked for the National Autistic Society and on various research projects relating to people with autism.
Lauren Taylor, PhD
Lauren is a post-doctoral researcher involved in PACT-G a multisite randomised controlled trial that is investigating the effect of a social communication intervention for children with ASD, across the home and school contexts. She oversees the clinical assessments for a study that is exploring the efficacy of arbaclofen, a GABA-B agonist, for improving socialisation in children and adolescents with ASD. This study is part of AIMS-2-Trials, the largest ever grant for autism research (https://www.aims-2-trials.eu/).
Lauren’s previous research work focused on diagnostic practices for ASD in Australia, where she was involved in establishing Australia’s first tertiary-level training course specifically focused on ASD assessment and diagnosis. She has also worked clinically with children, adolescents and adults with ASD across early intervention, school and residential settings. Lauren is currently interested in improving the evidence base for interventions for ASD across the lifespan and embedding evidence-based practices into clinical settings.
Julian Tillman, PhD
Julian is a post-doctoral researcher involved with Autism Innovative Medicine Studies-2-Trials (AIMS-2-Trials), where he is establishing a large clinical network of sites that will be ready to accommodate future clinical trials in ASD. A part of his role he coordinates capacity-building activities around ongoing clinical trials (e.g. training, dissemination, education programs) and develops business models to ensure the long-term sustainability of the network. Prior to joining AIMS-2-Trials, Julian was part of EU-AIMS where he co-ordinated clinical data collection across a number of leading autism sites in Europe.
Tessel Bazelmans, MsC
Tessel is working as a post-doctoral researcher on the SuperSTAARS study. This study is a follow-up of the BASIS and STAARS projects of children who have an increased likelihood of ASD or ADHD. As part of this study, Tessel will be seeing the children who have previously participated in BASIS when they are between 6 and 10 years old. Before working on SuperSTAARS, Tessel has done her PhD at KCL on the STAARS project. Her focus has been on early physiological markers in 5 to 36 month-old siblings with and without a family history of ASD and ADHD. Prior to joining the team, she completed her MSc degree in Developmental Psychopathology at Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Rowan Arthur, MSc
Rowan is a research assistant working on the SuperSTAARS study. This is a follow-up study of the BASIS and STAARS projects working with children who have an increased likelihood of ASD or ADHD. Rowan will be seeing previous participants now that they are between the ages of 6 and 10. Her focus is on recruiting families, completing both lab and behavioural assessments, and has a particular interest genetics. Prior to joining the SuperSTAARS team Rowan completed her MSc in Genes, Environment and Development in Psychology and Psychiatry at King’s College London and has worked as a teaching assistant in various special needs schools.
Mary Agyapong, MSc
Mary is an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded PhD student who is working on the BASIS STAARS project. Her research interests include investigating early symptom emergence and language development in infant siblings with and without a family history of ASD and ADHD. She will examine these using a variety of methods, including EEG and eye-tracking. Prior to joining the BASIS STAARS team, Mary completed her MSc in Genes, Environment and Development in Psychology and Psychiatry at King’s College London
Sophie Carruthers, MRes
Sophie is an MRC funded PhD student working on PACT-G, a large randomised controlled trial of a social communication intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders. Her current research interests focus on the outcome measures used in behavioural intervention trials across the autism field and the underlying treatment mechanisms. In particular, she is focusing on the recently developed Brief Observation of Social and Communication Change (BOSCC), a play-based observational assessment of autism symptoms involving a child interacting with a researcher, parent or teacher. Sophie will be investigating the statistical and clinical utility of the measure in PACT-G and the previous PACT trial.
Mutluhan Ersoy, MSc
Mutluhan is a Ph.D. student who is involved in the BASIS - Studying Autism and ADHD Risks (STAARS) project. Her current research interests include behavioural inhibition in infants and toddlers who are at familial risk for autism spectrum disorders. She adopts a multi-method approach for providing a comprehensive picture of children’s behavioural inhibition. With her research, she is also aiming to examine how early-emerging behavioural inhibition in infancy and toddlerhood contributes to autism and possible co-occurring anxiety problems. Previously, she completed an MSc in Child and Adolescent Mental Health at King’s College London and her postgraduate study is sponsored by the Ministry of Turkish Education.
Celia Smith, MSc
Celia is a doctoral researcher focusing on the transmission of stress and anxiety states between parents and children. She works on the BASIS STAARS project, investigating how anxiety symptoms at age seven might be predicted through a combination of parenting behaviour and infant temperament in early childhood. Separately, Celia also studies how mothers and infants under one coordinate their physiological stress levels. She works with families from low socio-economic backgrounds, as well as families where a parent has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Celia previously graduated from the University of Oxford, and worked in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in the NHS. Her funding is from the Economic and Social Research Council.
Chelsea is a Psychology BSc Student at the University of Surrey who has joined the team for her work placement year. She is currently assisting with the BASIS STAARS project, which examines early development of those who are at-risk for ASD and ADHD. This is her first time assisting in an autism study and through her first few months with us she has become extremely interested in social interactions of those with ASD and ADHD. Her responsibilities in the team include arranging visits with families, assisting with tasks on testing days (for example, Mullen and stranger approach), helping to set up the lab and much more. Her time here so far has been eye opening and has enabled her to gain an insight to the potential areas she wishes to base her future career in.
Hafsa is a Cognitive & Clinical Neuroscience BSc Student at the University of Westminster, who has joined the team for her placement year. She is currently assisting on the PACT-G, study, which seeks to provide an intervention therapy improving autistic children’s communication. Having studied, and had prior experience with autistic children, she is extremely interested in their social and physiological development, drawing from what she is learning on placement to combine with her studies. Her responsibilities consist of arranging appointments, going on visits to see the children at school and at home, assisting on lab visits and data entry. So far, her time here has been incredibly informative in giving her an insight to future prospects, but also that there is still plenty to learn!