Who am I?
On this page, you'll find more information about my professional and personal background.
My professional background
I am a Principal Academic in the Department of Psychology at Bournemouth University. I use quantitative and qualitative methods to examine questions such as:
Why are autistic adults more vulnerable to stress, mental ill-health, self-injury and suicidality?
What features or characteristics make some autistic adults more vulnerable to these negative outcomes?
What are the experiences of late-diagnosed autistic people?
What happens to autistic people as they age and pass through certain life stages?
How do social, cognitive and emotional processes differ between autistic and non-autistic people?
I studied for my BSc (Hons) in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. I completed my PhD in cognitive neuroscience at Cambridge University, having obtained a fully-funded MRC studentship based at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit.
After graduating, I was employed in two postdoctoral roles, based first at the Autism Research Centre (University of Cambridge) and then the Brain Mapping Unit (University of Cambridge). Both focused on brain function and structure (connectivity) in autistic people. I then moved to take up a lectureship at Bournemouth University.
My personal background
I was a very confused child and teenager. I found it really hard to make friends and fit in at school. My self-esteem was always very low, my mental health very poor.
Thanks to a life-changing academic mentor at University, I discovered that I loved psychology and neuroscience. I was always drawn to studying autism, as I felt a strong empathy towards other people who struggled socially.
I completed my PhD, learnt how to perform autism diagnostic assessments (ADI-R and ADOS-G), and was half-way through my second postdoctoral job when I learnt, quite by chance, that I had been suspected to be autistic as a child. After some investigation, I was assessed and diagnosed at the Lorna Wing Centre, aged 28.
I know, personally, that receiving an adult autism diagnosis is a life-changing thing.
I did not know about my own autistic status when I chose to specialise in autism research. Now I know, I can see how my autism helps me produce better work. I would never have thought that I could be a researcher or do anything helpful or important, but I hope that I am able to contribute something at least a little bit positive… and I really hope that I can encourage and empower others by showing the ‘less than perfect’ side behind the professional face.
Just for fun:
I love sunflowers and the colour blue; reading; ‘dad jokes’ and silly t-shirts; brains and brain-based bakery; the Legend of Zelda; Studio Ghibli, Pixar and Disney!
I am a devoted dog-mother to my pup, Frodo.
Favourite fictional characters: Faramir of Gondor (LotR), Sirius Black and Remus Lupin (HP), Captain Picard and Data (Star Trek).
Things that make me flappy-happy: bright colours, sparkly/glittery things, festive lights, fireworks and stars!