Dr. Kostas A. Papageorgiou

Dr. Papageorgiou is a Lecturer in Developmental Psychopathology  at Queen’s University Belfast and an Associate Professor in Personality Psychology at Tomsk State University in Russia. Kostas lectures on the MSc course Psychology of Childhood Adversity in the School of Psychology at Queen’s and he supervises BSc, MSc, PhD, and Post-Graduate students’ research. He is also the convener of the course “Interdisciplinary Study of Development I” in the International MSc in Human Development: Genetics, Neuroscience and Psychology at Tomsk State University. Before that, he was a Lecturer in Developmental Psychology (2014-2016) at London Metropolitan University, where he was delivering lectures, seminars and workshops on many UG and PG modules including, Cognitive and Developmental Psychology and Biological and Evolutionary Psychology. Kostas is the Director of the InteRRaCt Lab and an International Associate Member of InLab at Goldsmiths, and the Russian-British Behavioural Genetics Laboratory at the Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education

In 2011, Kostas was awarded a European Marie Curie Fellowship to pursue a PhD (2011-2015) at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck University of London. His doctoral thesis “Individual Differences in Infant Visual Attention: Links to Child Temperament, Behaviour and Genetic Variation” explored the genetics of visual attention in the first year of life; and the degree to which individual differences in newborns’ and infants’ visual attention predict variation in temperament, cognition and symptoms of psychopathology in childhood. Kostas conducted his MSc thesis in the InLab, under the supervision of Professor Kovas, exploring social (e.g. stereotype threat) and biological (e.g. prenatal testosterone) factors that contribute to sex differences in spatial and mathematical ability across development. In 2011, Kostas received an MSc degree in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience from Goldsmiths University of London, and a BSc degree in Psychology from Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences in 2009.   

In July 2017, Kostas founded the InteRRaCt lab, a research group that is characterised by the following ethos:

  1. The Lab strives to facilitate the interaction between research groups and individuals, who conduct interdisciplinary research in psychology in the UK and abroad.
  2. The Lab aims at contributing actively to the production and dissemination of new knowledge in the area of resilience, personality and cognition.
  3. The Lab aspires to engage with, invest in, and train students of all levels in order to help them reach their full potential.

Scientific Advisors

Professor Yulia Kovas

Yulia Kovas is Professor of Genetics and Psychology at Goldsmiths, and a visiting Professor at University of Sussex (UK), New York University in London, Tomsk State University (Russia) and Higher School of Economics (Russia).  She also lectures at UCL and King’s College, London and supervises many BSc, MSc, PhD, and Post-graduate students’ research in the UK and abroad. In addition to being the Director of InLab at Goldsmiths (International Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Investigations into Individual Differences in Learning), she co-directs the International Centre for Research in Human Development (ICRHD) at Tomsk State University and the Russian-British Laboratory for Behavioural Genetics at the Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow.  She leads the genetically informative research into mathematical development in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) at King’s College, London; and directs the Russian School Twin Registry (RSTR).  The goal of her research programme is to provide insights into the development of individual differences in cognitive abilities, emotional and motivational processes and academic achievement.  Understanding the origins of variation in these traits will ultimately lead to more personalised educational approaches and to better education for all learners.

Yulia Kovas received her Ph.D. in 2007 from the SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry. Her thesis on Generalist Genes and Mathematics explored the origins of the individual differences in school mathematics. She received a degree in Literature and Linguistics as well as teaching qualifications from the University of St Petersburg, Russia in 1996 and taught children of all ages for 6 years.  She received a B.Sc in Psychology from Birkbeck College, University of London in 2003 and an MSc in Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry from the SGDP Centre, King’s College. This eclectic – interdisciplinary and international – educational background has ultimately led to the formation of InLab at Goldsmiths, University of London.  The laboratory conducts international, interdisciplinary research into individual differences in cognition, motivation, achievement and other educationally relevant traits – with the aim of providing new knowledge that can be used to improve education.  A major focus of the research is on numerical ability, mathematics, spatial ability, as well as creativity –  STEAM fields.  InLab is one of the founding members of INRiCHD – an International Network for Research in Child Health and Development.

In addition to this research programme, Professor Kovas is also involved in promotion of genetic knowledge and in work that considers implications of genetic research.  She is a member of the Council for Ethical, Societal and Legal Implications of Genetic Research in Child Development and Education; and Chair of the Psychology Department Ethics Committee at Goldsmiths. In 2015, InLab and the ICRHD became the founding members of TAGC – The Accessible Genetics Consortium.


Professor Sergey Malykh 

Sergey Malykh is a Professor in the Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, where he directs the Laboratory for Developmental Behavioral Genetics and co-directs the Russian-British laboratory for Behavioural Genetics. He is also the Head (Academician-Secretary) of the Department of Psychology and Developmental Physiology of the Russian Academy of Education and co-director of the  International Centre for Research in Human Development (ICRHD) at Tomsk State University. The focus of his research is currently on the genetic and environmental origins of variation in psychological and psychophysiological traits. The goal of his research programme is to provide insights into the development of individual differences in cognitive abilities, emotional and motivational processes and academic achievement. Professor Sergey Malykh has published more than 350 papers and is the senior author of the major textbook in the field in Russia (“Foundation of Behavioural Genetics”,1998; the first textbook on this topic in Russia). He is also the co-editor of several books including, “Gene. Brain. Behavior.” (Eds: Malykh, Torgersen), Oslo, Moscow, RP PRESS, 2007; “Behavioural Genetics for Education’ (Eds: Kovas, Malykh, Gaysina), Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016; Behavioural Genomics: Child Development and Education (Eds: Malykh, Kovas, Gaysina) Publishing House of Tomsk State University, 2016.

Prof. Sergey Malykh has an MSc (Distinction) degree in Psychology from Saratov State University (1979); a PhD in Psychophysiology from the Scientific Research Institute of General and Educational Psychology, Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, USSR (1986); Dr.Habiilitation in Behavioural Genetics from Psychological Institute of Russian academy of Education (2000).  He is also an elected member of the Russian Academy of Education (2012).


Professor Constantine Sedikides

Constantine Sedikides’ research is on self and identity (including narcissism) and their interplay with emotion (especially nostalgia) as well as motivation, close relationships, and group or organizational processes ( This research has been supported by grants from various funding sources, such as Economic and Social Research Council, Leverhulme Trust, and National Institute of Health. He has received several awards including Distinguished Lifetime Career Award from International Society for Self and Identity), Kurt Lewin Medal for Outstanding Scientific Contribution from European Association of Social Psychology, and The Presidents’ Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge from The British Psychological Society. Before joining University of Southampton, Constantine taught at University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. He holds a BA from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and a PhD from The Ohio State University, USA.


Professor Peter J. Clough

Peter is currently head of psychology at Huddersfield University after holding similar positions at MMU and the University of Hull.  He is an occupational and sports psychologist, training at the University of Bradford, University of Sheffield and the University of Aberdeen. Peter is interested in all aspects of applied and performance psychology, having a clear focus on the interface between theory and the appliance of psychology in real world settings. He has published over 50 articles and has produced a number of books and book chapters in his career.  He was the co-developer of the 4 ‘C’s model of mental toughness and has spent considerable time developing this theoretical construct and designing valid and robust ways of measuring it

Indicative references:

Clough, P. J., Houge Mackenzie, S., Mallabon, E., & Brymer, E. (2016). Adventurous physical activity environments: A mainstream intervention for mental health. Sport Medicine. In press.

Sabouri, S., Gerber, M., Bahmani, D. S., Lemola, S., Clough, P. J., Kalak, N., . . . Brand, S. (2016). Examining Dark Triad traits in relation to mental toughness and physical activity in young adults. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment12, 229-235. doi:10.2147/NDT.S97267

Borkoles, E., Carroll, S., Clough, P., & Polman, R. C. J. (2016). Effect of a non-dieting lifestyle randomised control trial on psychological well-being and weight management in morbidly obese pre-menopausal women. Maturitas83, 51-58. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.09.010

Earle, F., Hockey, B., Earle, K., & Clough, P. (2015). Separating the effects of task load and task motivation on the effort–fatigue relationship. Motivation and Emotion, 39(4), 467-476. doi:10.1007/s11031-015-9481-2

Perry, J. L., Nicholls, A. R., Clough, P. J., & Crust, L. (2015). Assessing model fit: Caveats and recommendations for confirmatory factor analysis and exploratory structural equation modeling. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science19(1), 12-21. doi:10.1080/1091367X.2014.952370



Dr. Giulio Costantini

Giulio Costantini completed his PhD at the Psychology Department of the University of Milano-Bicocca in 2015, with a thesis entitled “Network Analysis: A New Perspective on Personality Psychology”, supervised by prof. Marco Perugini. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the same department. His main research interests span the fields of personality psychology, psychological methods, and network analysis. His research has been focused mainly on developing network analysis as a statistical and theoretical tool to model personality. Additionally, he focused on applications of the network methodology to understand the structure and processes of a specific personality trait, namely conscientiousness. He is also interested in the psychometric measurement of personality, with a keen eye on implicit measures. Other research interests include the relationships between personality, behavior, and psychological situations; the psychometric measurement of creative problem-solving skills; statistical power and scientific reproducibility.


Dr. Neil Dagnall

Dr Neil Dagnall is a Reader (Associate Professor) in Applied Cognitive Psychology at the Manchester Metropolitan University. Neil alongside Andrew Denovan heads the Applied Cognitive Psychology & Performance Research Group. He also founded the Parapsychological Research Group, which he co-leads with Dr Kenneth Drinkwater in 2003. Neil’s academic interest in parapsychology dates back to 2001 when he took over a final year undergraduate course on the subject. The course in various forms has run ever since and regular attracts around 100 students per year. Additionally, works closely with Dr Andrew Denovan on projects around the broad topics of individual differences, personality and statistical analysis, and with Andrew Parker, who a world-leading researcher in the field of memory (i.e., effects of saccadic bilateral eye movements on recall).


Dr. Andrew Denovan

Dr Andrew Denovan is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His principal research interests are in the areas of differential psychology, positive psychology, and the student experience within higher education. Currently, Andrew’s research is concerned with exploring how positive psychology theory can contribute to our understanding of coping with stress, and how coping leads to adaptive outcomes including resilience. Another main research interest of Andrew’s includes research methods such as psychometrics and structural equation modelling. To this end, Andrew regularly works with academics on collaborative research projects offering his statistical support.


Dr. Mihalis Doumas

Mihalis completed his undergraduate (1999) and masters degrees (2001) in Sport and Exercise Science in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He moved to the School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, where he did his PhD (2001-2005) and then to Belgium to work as a postdoctoral researcher at KU Leuven, initially funded by a university project (2006-2008) and then by a research fellowship from the research foundation of Flanders (2008-2011). Since August 2011 he is a Lecturer in Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast. Mihalis is primarily interested in the control of posture and balance over the lifespan and in clinical populations. Specifically, his work focuses on (1) Life-span development of sensorimotor and cognitive processes (2) multisensory integration in postural control and (3) timing of rhythmic movements, using Neurophysiological (TMS, TDCS and fNIRS), cognitive (working memory, executive control) and Developmental (Lifespan) approaches.


Dr. Fabia Franco

After studying Psychology in Italy at the Universities of Padua (BSc/MSc) and Bologna (PhD), I was post-doctoral scholar for four years funded by the Italian CNR, the ESF and the ESRC at the University of Stirling, where I worked at the Infant Study Unit with G. Butterworth. I then held a tenured lectureship at the University of Padua but relocated to the UK for family reasons and joined Middlesex University in London where I am Senior Lecturer. My main research interests have revolved around various aspects of communication in infants and young neurotypical and atypical children, with more recent developments extending the study of human communication to musical interactions: the relationship between language and music; music and emotion regulation; music and cognitive functioning; developmental outcomes associated with early musical interactions in the family. My research is interdisciplinary, and I believe that groundbreaking work emerges in the cracks and crossovers between fields, disciplines and methodologies. Collaborating with musicologists & musicians, neuroscientists, phoneticians, anthropologists and computer scientists has been so invigorating and humbling (helps keeping a sense of perspective/humour). Current funding gratefully acknowledged: British Academy, SEMPRE.

Dr. Fabia Franco, Department of Psychology, School of Science and Technology, Middlesex University, London



Dr. Darya Gaysina

Darya Gaysina is a lead of the Environment, Development, Genetics and Epigenetics (EDGE) in Psychopathology Laboratory and a Lecturer at the School of Psychology, University of Sussex. Darya obtained a first class degree in Biology from the Bashkir State University, Russia, and PhD in Human Genetics from the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). Her PhD thesis was devoted to investigating molecular genetic risk factors for human aggressive and suicidal behaviour. She was awarded an INTAS Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue her research into genetic underpinnings of suicidal behaviour and major depression at the Institute Biochemistry and Genetics, RAS and at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. After that, she was awarded an MRC Career Development Fellowship to develop a research programme in the life course epidemiology of affective disorders at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL. Darya became a Lecturer at the University of Leicester before joining the University of Sussex in 2013. Her research interests are focused on exploring environmental and genetic factors, and their interplay, in relation to affective disorders across the life course. In her research, Darya combines approaches of molecular genetics, life course epidemiology, and developmental psychopathology. She is an author of more that 50 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and, more recently, a co-editor (with Y. Kovas and S. Malykh) of the book ‘Behavioural Genetics for Education’.



Ms. Sarah Gribben

Sarah is the Ambassador Programme Manager at Visit Belfast and she is collaborating with the InteRRaCt lab aiming at attracting and organising international scientific conferences in Belfast. Business tourism is big news in Belfast. In the last five years, the team at Visit Belfast, working with its partners, has attracted prestigious conferences from all over the world, bringing 135,000 delegates to the city and generating £186 million for the local economy.  Conference tourism brings important mid-week and year-round trade to the city’s hotels, conference venues, restaurants and visitor attractions, complementing Belfast’s growing leisure market.  Visit Belfast offers a range of complimentary services to bid for and welcome these events to Belfast. However, despite the fantastic support and product available it is about more than that. 79 percent of conferences are secured with the help of a local ambassador.  The Belfast Ambassador Programme, launched in 1998, is a network of local professionals who work with Visit Belfast in promoting the city as a conference destination. Spanning all sectors – from agriculture to zoology – these experts in their fields have helped the city secure millions in tourism revenue. But it isn’t just about hotel bed nights and economic development. Becoming a Belfast Ambassador gives you the chance to develop your own career, by increasing your profile within your industry, establishing relationships with colleagues and institutions, and showing off your own research to your peers. We welcome the opportunity to speak to anyone who is considering bringing a conference to Belfast about the free support available.


Ms Ying Lin

Ying is a Ph.D. student at University of Southern California. Her current research interests include experiences of cultural fluency and disfluency as well as cultural mindsets. Her interests in cultural mindsets revolve around how specific elements in the context can activate cultural mindsets that carry consequences for judgment and behavior. She’s also interested in embodied cognition and metaphors in a cross-cultural context. 


Mr. Maxim Likhanov

He received his BSc hons (Specialist) in Linguistics at TSU in 2015. Since that he was a junior research assistant in the Laboratory for cognitive investigations and behavioral genetics where he explored the links between anxiety (maths and trait), cognitive abilities (maths, spatial, verbal etc.) and brain activity (rhythms and event related potentials). In addition to his role as a research assistant, he was a involved in science dissemination body – The Accessible Genetics Consortium (TAGC) where he was responsible for event organisation and management of the Russian part of the project. Maxim was also a manger for an MSc programme Human Development: Genetics, Neuroscience, and Psychology at TSU.

Maxim Likhanov is currently a PhD student in Tomsk State University (TSU). Since 2018 Maxim is also a coordinator for the laboratory for Cognitive and Interdisciplinary studies in Educational Centre “Sirius”. Sirius is an educational centre for schoolchildren recognized as gifted in different fields (Science, Art and Sport) in Sochi, Russia. Maxim is one of the research associates of the project “Individual Differences in Education and Achievement study”(IDEAs). The project is supervised by professor Yulia Kovas and aims to explore the nature of giftedness in different fields and investigating the factors which are linked to high achievement in different domains e.g. personality traits or certain abilities.

He is involved in InteRRaCt lab to help with a research which aims at investigating relationships among personality constructs such as Mental toughness, Big Five, Dark Triad and Strengths and Difficulties in gifted children.


Dr. Margherita Malanchini

I received my BSc in Psychology from Goldsmiths University of London in 2010. After one year working in a secondary school in London, supporting teenagers with learning difficulties, I started an MSc in Developmental Sciences at Birkbeck College. I obtained my MSc in September 2012, graduating with Distinction. After working as a research coordinator at InLab, I started my PhD at Goldsmiths University of London in 2013. My PhD research, supervised by Professor Yulia Kovas, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC),explored how motivation and anxiety contribute to differences in achievement between students.  During my PhD I collaborated at several large-scale projects, including the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), where I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, mentored by Professor Robert Plomin. I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, working for the Texas Twin Project, mentored by Dr Elliot Tucker-Drob and Dr Paige Harden. During my PhD I founded a longitudinal study, MILES (a Multi-cohort Investigation into Learning and Educational Success). The goal of my research is to provide knowledge that can inform educational practice, ultimately allowing students to achieve their full potential. 


Dr. Constantinos Mitsopoulos

Dr. Constantinos Mitsopoulos is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University. His main scientific interests revolve around theoretical, mathematical and computational methods to investigate the underlying mechanisms of neural systems, with great emphasis on learning and decision making. He enjoys working at the borders of theory and application of artificial intelligence and machine learning methods.  

Constantinos received his BSc in Physics from the University of Athens, and subsequently moved to London for an MSc in Machine Learning at the University College London. There, he was captivated by the elusive functionality of the brain and embarked on his journey into computational neuroscience field at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit. He acquired a PhD degree from the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck University of London, where he worked upon Reinforcement Learning and cognitive modelling.


Dr. Giovanni Moneta

Dr Giovanni B. Moneta is a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University. He earned his BSc in Psychology from the University of Padua and his MA and PhD in Quantitative Psychology and Research Methodology from the University of Chicago. He worked as researcher in various organisations in Europe, including the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and the Institut National de la Santé et Recherche Médicale (INSERM). He then worked as associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, teaching in the areas of personality and motivation. Prior to joining London Metropolitan University, he was a research fellow at Harvard Business School. His main research interests are in positive psychology, with a focus on optimal experience (flow), creativity, adaptive metacognitions, and on how these influence performance in occupational and educational contexts. He is particularly interested in further developing models of flow and performance in challenging work contexts and testing them on longitudinal data.

Giovanni is the author of Positive Psychology: A Critical Introduction and co-editor of Psychology of Creativity: Cognitive, Emotional, and Social Processes. He is currently working on a number of research papers and an edited book provisionally titled Psychology of Work Complexity: Change, Stage Processes, and Trade-offs.


Mr Julian Mutz

Julian completed his undergraduate training in Psychology (B.Sc.) at the University of Groningen (2012-2015) and at University College London (2014-2015). He earned a postgraduate degree in Affective Disorders (M.Sc.) from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London (2015-2016) and is also a graduate of the International Master in Affective Neuroscience programme (M.Sc.) of Maastricht University (2015-2017). Julian has in the past worked on several research projects, for instance the PRAISe study, a multi-centre randomised controlled trial led by King’s College London. He is currently working as a research assistant at the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Imperial College London. His main research interests cover a broad range of topics including mood disorders, brain stimulation, evidence synthesis, dreaming, and research on emotions.  


Mr. Steve Oakes

Steve Oakes is the Director of Education at AQR International, where he leads the work on mental toughness in education. Prior to his current position, he was the Assistant Director of Sixth Form at The Blue Coat School in Oldham. Steve has 17 years teaching experience, including being a head of department and curriculum manager. He has developed and delivered an extensive range of consultancy courses; including work for the London, Manchester and Blackpool Challenge Programme’s to improve schools and sixth forms across the country.

He is the author of The A Level Mindset (2016), The A Level Mindset Student Handbook (2016) and The GCSE Mindset (2017, Crown House Publishing). He has co-authored a chapter on mental toughness with Professor Peter Clough in Non-Cognitive Skills and Factors in Educational Attainment (Sense Publishers, 2016). Steve has also published two journal articles for the Association of Character Education (2016/17). He has delivered at a wide range of conferences including the British Psychological Association, ResearchEd and PIXL6. In the past year Steve has delivered over 50 workshops on mental toughness and the VESPA mindset. He is in the third year of his PhD which is being supervised by Professor Peter Clough. His research interests include mental toughness and development of non-cognitive factors in students. He can be found on twitter @alevelmindset.


Dr. Tara O Neill

Dr Tara O Neill is a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology, working with Dr Teresa Rushe on projects focusing on long-term predictors, mediators, moderators and outcomes of looked after children in N.Ireland. Tara’s involvement in the InteRRaCt lab will see her collecting and analysing data from these projects using a number of scales including the Mental Toughness scale. Before joining the school, Tara worked in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, QUB, conducting extensive secondary data analysis of the Belfast Youth Development Longitudinal Study. As well as being a skilled and experienced researcher in areas of psychological trauma, adversity, mental health, drugs and alcohol use, Tara has also extensive knowledge and experience of statistical methodology and its application. Tara’s PhD research focused on early environmental influences in psychosis looking specifically at the psychological sequelae of female sexual victimisation.  Her area of research explored trauma-psychosis associations in traumatised and non-traumatised populations, explored relationships between intervening variables in the trauma-psychosis paradigm and investigated the mediating role of early and recent adverse experiences on the developmental trajectory of psychotic like experiences and dissociation. Tara’s main areas of research interest focus on the links between traumatic experiences and psychopathology, transgenerational trauma and symptomology and substance misuse as coping mechanisms. Some of her past projects have focused on adolescent alcohol use, school disengagement and pathways to being NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training: Alcohol Research UK funded); while, one of her on-going research projects focuses on variations and determinants of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS/Legal Highs) in N.Ireland: National Institute of Health Research funded).


Dr. Oliver Perra

I am a developmental psychologist. My research interests lie in the factors and mechanisms that explain differences in children’s behaviour (e.g. aggressive behaviour) and in their abilities to learn from others (e.g. the ability to imitate). I obtained a PhD at the University of Sheffield, and I collaborate with well-established longitudinal studies of children (the Cardiff Child Development Study) and adolescents (the Belfast Youth Development Study). I have expertise in the application of sophisticated quantitative methods to longitudinal analyses (e.g. multilevel hierarchical models; latent growth models, mixture models, among others) and in the assessment of Randomised Controlled Trials.

I am currently running a feasibility study of an attention training programme with very preterm infants, funded by PHA-R&D Division. The study will adopt a programme developed by our collaborator Sam Wass (UEL) and train preterm infants’ ability to control attention. Attention control may provide these infants with the building blocks for developing further learning skills. I also contribute to the pilot of a midwifery home visiting intervention for improving outcomes of children born to socially vulnerable mothers (the New Baby Programme). Finally, I am the co-PI of the Northern Ireland Cerebral Palsy Register, a register of all children with this condition in Northern Ireland.


Dr. John Perry

John is the Head of Department in Mary Immaculate College.  John has published several peer-reviewed papers on mental toughness, he has contributed book chapters, and he has presented on the subject at international conferences. He is an accomplished psychometrician, having published many studies on the development and validation of several psychometric scales, including the MTQ48. He is a leading researcher in the application of validity testing, including exploratory structural equation modelling, bifactor modelling, and tests of internal consistency. In the InteRRaCt lab, John is involved in several projects that aim to explore the role of non-cognitive factors that influence academic performance and he has a leading role in consulting on issues around statistical analyses and psychometrics.


Dr. Teresa Rushe

I am a senior lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast. My research falls within the area developmental psychopathlogy with particualar expertise in developmental neuropsychology. I completed my PhD in 1996  on the neuropsychology of schizophrenia at the Institute of Psychiatry in London under the supervision of Sir Robin Murray and Professor Robin Morris. Since then I have published widely in the area of psychosis, with a particular focus on understanding the neurodevelopmental origins and I was the PI on the Northern Ireland First Episode Psychosis study which I set up in 2002. My expertise in developmental neuropsychology was developed during my post-doctoral research at the Institute of Psychiatary when I collaborated with paediatricians from University College Hospital on a longitudinal study investigating the long-term outcome of very preterm birth. At the University of Manchester (2004-2008) I was able to develop my research interests in developmental psychopathology and to use state of the art structural and funcional neuroimaging techniques to understand both normal and abnormal brain development. More recent projects include the North West Adolescence Study which I set up with colleagues at Ulster University to explore the incidence and antecedents of self-harm and other risk behaviours in adolescents. I am currently working on several projects exploring the impact of childhood adversity on adult outcomes, including an ESRC funded study investigating the psychological and neuropsychological outcomes in young people who were in care in early childhood.


Dr. Tim J. Smith

Tim J. Smith BSc. Hons, PhD. (Edin.) is a Reader/Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London. He is the head of the CINE (Cognition in Naturalistic Environments) Lab which studies audiovisual attention, perception and memory in real-world and mediated environments (including Film, TV and VR) as well as the impacts of such media on social and cognitive development. He is an expert in active vision and eye tracking and applies empirical Cognitive Psychology methods to questions of Film Cognition publishing his work on the subject in both Psychology and Film journals.


Mr. Doug Strycharczyk

Doug is the CEO of AQR International which he founded in 1989 – now recognised as one of the most innovative test publishers in the world.  Doug’s expertise includes development of Psychometric Tests and related development Programmes –playing a key role in developing MTQ48 as well as the Integrated Leadership Measure (ILM72), Carrus – a behavioural employability measure and TWOI – a team work orientation inventory, all in collaboration with Peter Clough. He is currently completing research (for a PhD) which will expand understanding of the Mental Toughness concept and questionnaire.  His experience covers Organisational Development, Top Team Assessment, Leadership Development and Talent ManagementDoug has pioneered the application of the Mental Toughness concept to any sector where individuals face challenge or stressors. Doug works in the Occupational, Education, Social Work, Sports and Health sectors. Doug has co-authored with Peter Clough “Developing Mental Toughness” (Kogan Page 2105) now available in multiple languages as well as “Developing Mental Toughness in Young people” (Karnac 2014)Doug has co-authored with Peter Clough chapters in the following leading books:

  • Psychometrics in Coaching  (2009) (Kogan Page)
  • Leadership Coaching (2010) (Kogan Page)
  • Coaching in Education (2011)

With Charles Elvin CEO ILM Doug has co-authored Developing Resilient Organisations (Kogan Page 2014) and with Charlotte Bosworth (Director OCR) “Developing Employability and Enterprise (Kogan Page 2016). Doug holds a first class honours degree in Economics.  Email Doug at


Professor Rhiannon Turner

Rhiannon Turner is a Professor of Social Psychology and intergroup relations researcher. She is Director of the Centre for Identity and Intergroup Relations at Queen’s University Belfast. Her research examines the effect of several different forms of intergroup contact in reducing prejudice, including cross-group friendship (e.g., Turner & Cameron, 2016; Turner & Feddes, 2011; Turner, Tam et al., 2014), extended contact (e.g., West & Turner, 2014; Paterson, Turner, & Conner, 2015), imagined contact (e.g., Crisp & Turner, 2012; Turner & West, 2012), and e-contact (e.g., White, Turner, Verrelli, Harvey, & Hanna, 2018). She is am also interested in the role of personality (e.g., Turner, Dhont et al., 2014; Vezzali, Turner, Capozza, & Trifilleti, 2017; Choma, Jagavat, Hodson, & Turner, 2017) and nostalgia in explaining intergroup relations (e.g., Turner, Wildschut, Sedikides & Gheorghiu, 2013, Turner, Wildschut, & Sedikides, 2018). She currently holds research funding from the ESRC, EPSRC, and SEUPB, and has previously received funding from the British Academy, ESRC, NIHR, and Leverhulme Trust. Rhiannon is past recipient of the BPS Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research Contributions to Psychology (2007), the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s Robert B. Cialdini Award for excellence in field research (2008), and the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize (2011). From 2019-2022 she is co-editor-in-chief of the European Review of Social Psychology. She is also an associate editor for Group Processes and Intergroup Relations and the British Journal of Social Psychology, and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and the European Journal of Social Psychology. Rhiannon got her first degree in Psychology from Cardiff University in 2000, her Masters degree from the University of Kent in 2002, and her D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in 2006. After holding an ESRC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Birmingham, she was appointed as Lecturer in Social Psychology at the University of Leeds in February 2007, was promoted to Senior Lecturer in August 2010, and took up her current post in September 2012.


Dr. Sam Wass

ESRC Future Research Leader, Senior Lecturer, University of East London

Sam gained a first-class undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, and did his PhD at the Centre for Brain Cognitive Development in London. After this he was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, based at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge. After this he moved to the University of East London, supported by  an ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship.

Sam’s research examines how concentration, stress and learning capacities develop during childhood. He works with typically developing children as well as children growing up in diverse socio-economic status backgrounds in East London. He is also a collaborator on a range of projects in London, Europe, the United States and Canada with clinical populations (children with Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, preterm birth and Rett Syndrome). His research has been funded by the Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the National Institute of Health Research, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, and others.


Dr. Paul Wilson

Paul was awarded a PhD in 2014 for a thesis entitled On the Relationship between Intelligence and Inhibitory Control : Individual Differences in Cognitive Chronometry. After a research fellow position investigating the development of non-cognitive traits and their influence on literacy and numeracy outcomes in young children he was appointed lecturer specialising in education at the School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast where he specialises in Individual Differences, Psychometrics and Quantitative Analysis. He also lectures in Psychology at the QUB School of Medicine. His research interests are in the areas of cognitive ability and personality, especially factors underlying individual differences in educational attainment.  He has pedagogical research interests in the areas of student engagement and the use of personal response systems in the classroom. Paul is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, he is also a member of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences and the International Society for Intelligence Research.


PhD Students

Mr. Aaron Patterson

I received a First Class BSc. honours degree in Psychology (2013-2016) at Queen’s University, Belfast. In this time, I also served as class representative and both treasurer and president of the Psychology social society (PsychSoc), and was awarded a Degree plus for involvement in extracurricular activities. I then continued my studies at Queen’s, earning an MSc. with Distinction in Animal Behaviour and Welfare (2016-2017) to broaden my knowledge base, before accepting a fully-funded PhD position in the School of Psychology (2017-2020) supervised by Dr. Papageorgiou. I am now working on the ALLUSION (‘vALidating attentionaL measUres as indiceS of executIve functiOniNg) project, that primarily aims at achieving a better understanding of the relationship between eye-tracking measures and executive abilities in infancy and in childhood. The project is interdisciplinary, involving assessing executive abilities in childhood using a battery of computerised tests; collection of eye-tracking data from infants and children, and parental report measures of infants’ and children’s temperament, executive control and symptoms of psychopathology.  It is hoped that my research will pave the way for identifying populations at risk of developmental disorders characterised by deficits in executive attention, and for developing early intervention approaches with a view to decreasing the development of behavioural problems linked to executive deficits.


Ms. Tayler Truhan

I am a first-year PhD student in the InteRRaCt Lab. I’m from Florida, USA, where I completed my Bachelor’s in Psychology. I then completed a MSc at QUB in the Psychology of Childhood Adversity. My masters dissertation explored Narcissism and Mental Toughness in parents and behaviour problems in children. Currently, I work on the Parents and Children Together (PaCT) Project. Specifically, I research how individual differences in parent’s traits influence individual variation in children’s traits. This involves parent personality, psychopathology, and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and child behavioural difficulties, symptoms of psychopathology, academic achievement and telomere length. I am interested in research focusing on child development, individual differences, Mental Toughness, and personality.


Ms. Teresa Sofia Gomes Arrulo

In 2014, after being awarded with an above-average Secondary School Diploma in Sciences and Technologies in Lisbon, where I grew up, I moved to London in pursuit of higher education. Three years later, in that same city, I completed a degree in BSc Psychology at London Metropolitan University, finishing with First-Class Honours. Alongside this qualification, I have received the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Award for Best Overall Performance as well as London Metropolitan University Recognition Award for Academic Excellence, being found within the Top Thirty Students. I am currently working as part of London Metropolitan University’s Engagement, Communications and Outreach team, particularly involved in the Widening Participation area.

I have recently conducted a piece of research, as part of my undergraduate final project, entitled “Can music temporarily influence the quality of interpersonal relationships?: the impact of different music styles on the intimacy and power motives.” In line with this, my research interests include the contribution of music listening on educational performance, resilience and the development and maintenance of interpersonal relationships, as mediated by its influence on individuals’ emotional states and personality traits. I joined the InteRRaCt Lab in August 2017 in order to gain additional research experience. I will start my PhD in the InteRRact Lab exploring the relationship between personality, music, psychopathology and academic achievement in January 2019.


Research Associates

Ms Anna Balmer

I graduated from Queens University in June 2017 with a Psychology BSc (Hons) and have just received my Psychology MSc (Distinction) from Ulster University having chosen to specialise in mental health and psychological therapies. I worked in the mental health service in Northern Ireland for a number of years as a community mental health worker and wellbeing therapist. I now live and work in England as an assistant psychologist.


Ms Elena Benini

I obtained my BSc hons in psychology at University “La Sapienza” in Rome and then I have moved to Milan where I am completing my MSc in “Applied Experimental Psychological Sciences” at University of Milano – Bicocca. I am involved with the InteRRaCt lab to help with a research which aims at investigating relationships among personality constructs using Network Analysis as a statistic technique.

My aspiration is to pursue a career as a researcher in psychology, thus I embraced enthusiastically the opportunity to collaborate to InteRRaCt lab activities, under the supervision of Dr. Papageorgiou. My main contribution will consist in helping performing Network Analyses with RStudio and with interpreting and commenting results.

My research interests involve cognitive psychology main themes, such as attention, memory and problem solving and the use of eye-tracking techniques to investigate cognitive processes. I am also deeply fascinated by methodology of research and consequently part of my endeavour during my MSc will be directed to build a solid knowledge of various data analyses techniques and statistical software.



Mr David Bradley

Primarily interested in volunteering my time on ‘ALLUSION’ (vALidating attentionaL measUres as indiceS of executive functiOniNg) research project, due to the investigation into ‘visual attention and executive functioning in childhood’ using eye-tracking; along with the later expansion longitudinal data collection in infancy atypically developing children aimed at visual attention due to executive deficits.  However, I also wish to make myself available for ‘PaCT’ and ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ in direct relation to SPSS data entry; and general helping out, i.e. setting up equipment, welcoming participants, etc. during the actual study process.


Psychology Interests: Child Development (Cognitive): Particularly all forms of atypical development (mostly Autism), however, with specific focus on Executive Functioning, Eye-Tracking, and Fragile X.  Inspired by Piaget and Vygotsky, and pioneering researchers Uta Frith and Simon Baron-Cohen. I’m also interested in the Autistic Child’s transition from Childhood, through to Adolescence (and challenges the face regarding developing independence as they move towards adulthood).  In addition, I also have a strong interest in Childhood Adversity (Resilience); and Attachment Theory (Mary Ainsworth).

Personal Development: I wish to improve my skills on critically reviewing published papers; I wish to enhance my SPSS skills and improve my own confidence in using the software; I wish to understand how current PhD students decide on the best research technique to collect data to address their hypothesis; I wish to learn from my peers, share knowledge and best practice, develop my scientific terminology and writing skills, to help me identify the areas of opportunity that I need to address regarding my own personal development.


Ms Caroline Ferguson

My name is Caroline Ferguson. I completed my Advanced Diploma in Childcare and Education in 2006, and after working with children and adults with learning and developmental difficulties for a number of years, I decided to pursue a career in Psychology by studying part-time with the Open University. Upon graduating with a BSc in Psychology in 2014 I have continued to work with adolescents with moderate to severe learning and behavioural difficulties. I completed (2017) my MSc degree in the Psychology of Childhood Adversity at Queen’s University Belfast under the supervision of Dr Kostas Pagageorgiou. Since my graduation I work as a Research Associate in the InteRRaCt lab, where my role includes developing research materials, obtaining ethical approval, participant recruitment, data collection and analysis for the PaCT project. My current research is focusing on the relationship between childhood adversity, mental toughness and symptomology of stress and depression in adulthood. I would like to continue within academia and pursue a Doctorate. My particular interests include developmental, educational, social and behavioural psychology.


Ms Ruth Flanagan

My name is Ruth Flanagan I have a 1st class joint degree from Queens University in Sociology/Social policy. My second year of my undergraduate was completed in Queens university Ontario, where my interest in gender and sexualities was accentuated.  I am currently studying the Msc Psychology conversion course, and I am volunteering as a research assistant in InteRRactlab   I plan to further my career by completing a PhD in Sexology/ Health Sciences. My interests are based around gender and sexualities, sexual reproductive rights, sexual health and sexual pleasure. I have volunteered in sexual health organisations, such as the Brook Clinic and the sexual health resource centre.


Ms Janine Geddis

I am a mature student in the second year of a BSc in Psychology. I previously worked in the administrative sector and while working in a Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service office, I decided to take a risk and pursue a complete career change. My aim is to complete my degree followed by a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a view to working in the field of Mental Health. The focus of the InteRRact Lab is particularly aligned to my area of interest. Given the prevalence of mental health conditions across society, further understanding into what makes one person more resilient than other and the individual differences that such differing reactions, will be invaluable. I hope to learn more about why these differences exist and the factors that interact to produce such different results, as well as the methods of psychology used to treat mental health difficulties, to one day provide the best treatment plans possible.


Mrs Foteini-Maria Gianniou

I have gained a BSc degree in Physical Education and Sports from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. During my undergraduate degree, I have attended several conferences in the areas of psychology and physical education in childhood and I have presented my research on the influence of certain types of activities (e.g. swimming and taekwondo) on children’s psychology in national conferences and seminars.  I am particularly interested in the areas of positive psychology, resilience, mental toughness, stress and anxiety and individual differences in coping strategies.

I am currently pursuing an MSc degree on Human Performance and Health in Aristotle university specialising in School Physical Education and Psychology – I will complete my degree in December 2018.  I have joined the InteRRaCt lab in September 2017 as an Erasmus Visiting Researcher (September 2017 to April 2018), where I completed part of my MSc dissertation. My research explores how physical activity and personality interact to influence stress, symptoms of psychopathology and academic performance. I am a visiting research associate in the InteRRaCt lab since May 2018 working on both the PaCT and the Beyond Good and Evil projects . In this role I am gaining invaluable research experience ultimately aiming at pursuing a PhD in the InteRRaCt lab.




Mr Stian Grønlund

I recently started my Undergraduate course at Queen’s, and while looking for research projects to join, in order to gain experience in the field, the Beyond Good and Evil project stood out to me as the best choice. Through it, I am looking to gain knowledge of research compositions and conduction, and psychological convention, as well as teamworking skills because I believe all of these will be helpful for me throughout my Undergraduate years and beyond. Work on the Beyond Good and Evil project will also be a great chance for me to start networking within the Psychological community.

I aim to one day work in the field of neuroscience and neuropsychology, and my main interest lies in human-integrated technology, that is, the direct improvement of the human being/body, and how we will react to these changes. Work on the Beyond Good and Evil project will thus be valuable to me because it offers more insights about what traits it is desirable for people to have, in a given society.


Ms Amy Madine

I am currently in the third year of my BSc psychology course at Queens University, Belfast. During this year I have chosen to study the modules of typical and atypical literacy development, using nudges to change behaviour, psychopharmacology and how aging affects the mind, brain and behaviour.

I became a Research Associate within the InteRRaCt Lab in October 2018 and I will be working alongside Dr. Papageorgiou on the Good Beyond and Evil project exploring the association between the “dark” side of human personality and intelligence and the degree to which this link translates to success in various contexts. This project will also consider the protective effect of personality and intelligence on mental health.  My involvement within the InteRRaCt Lab will provide me with experience recruiting participants, administering self-report methods of personality and cognitive ability and the collection and interpretation of data using SPSS. Furthermore, I will receive further training in quantitative data analysis while working on this project.

This year I will be volunteering for the Samaritans crisis helpline for which I will receive training in offering professional emotional support and I will also be working within Queens University as a peer mentor to assist first-year students with their transition into University; these experiences will enable me to gain graduate with a Degree Plus award alongside my BSc qualification. My areas of interest include personality, health, developmental and behavioural psychology, psychopharmacology and data analysis.


Ms Micheala McIlvenna

I am in my second year of the BSc Psychology in Queens University Belfast. I hope to continue my studies and eventually pursue a career in psychological research. This year (2018-2019), I will be working (part-time) as a Research Assistant in the PaCT project. Taking part in the PaCT project is a great opportunity to expand my skills in this area. Moreover, I am very interested in this as it explores parent’s mental health and its link to children’s psychopathology, which is very pertinent in todays society. Before coming to university, I was a volunteer leader with a local youth group for children of different ages, this highlighted the impact this sort of research could have. Therefore, being involved in the InteRRact lab and the PaCT project is of particular interest to me, not only because of the potential they have, but also because I hope to improve the life of others with my own research in the future.


Ms Dearbhla McGinn

My name is Dearbhla McGinn and I completed my BSc in Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in 2016 and an MSc in the Psychology of Childhood Adversity at QUB in 2017. I have been part of the InteRRaCt lab since the beginning working on the ‘PaCT’ project. As part of this project I have been extensively involved in citing, creating and distributing parent and teacher questionnaire booklets of children from 6-8 years old throughout Primary schools in Northern Ireland. This research involves exploring the relationship between child temperament traits and parent personality traits. For my thesis, I am focusing on the moderating effect of the Dark Triad personality traits of Narcissism, Psychopathy and Machiavellianism in parents on the relationship between Parent’s Adverse Child Experiences (ACE’s) and antisocial behaviour in their children (as reported by their teachers). Other than personality research, I have a particular interest in developmental psychology and its application to the realm of education. My career aspirations are to become a research assistant for a few years to gain experience, to then complete a taught Doctorate in Educational, Child and Adolescent Psychology to become an Educational Psychologist.


Ms Louise Murphy

My name is Louise Murphy. I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh in 2010. I then Completed my MSc in Counselling and Therapeutic Communication at the University of Ulster in 2013. For my Masters thesis I did a qualitative study on the vicarious affects experienced by crisis helpline volunteers exposed to traumatic and adverse callers personal narratives. In the past I have volunteered for a crisis helpline offering emotional support. I have also worked with adults living with Dementia and in a Special Educational Needs School. I am currently working for The British Red Cross delivering a service specifically targeted at tackling Social Isolation and Loneliness in adults. I also currently volunteer with a Sail Training Charity, Maybe Sailing, as a Youth Mentor and I am Vice Chair of a the Local Charity, Lagan Curraghs.

I am interested in studying the causes and consequences of personality, particularly what makes people thrive despite adverse circumstances or life transitions. Constructs such as Post Traumatic Stress, Post Traumatic Growth, Resilience and Mental Toughness are examples. I am also interested in the impact of processes such as Experiential Learning and Adventure Therapy on personal growth and development.  I am currently a visiting research associate in the InteRRaCt lab under the supervision of Dr. Papageorgiou. My ambition is to complete a PhD in the future.



Ms. Diane Estelle Nugent

I obtained a B.Ed. (Honours) English Literature in 2003 and since then have completed a M.Ed. (Distinction) in School Leadership, a PQH (Professional Qualification for Headship) qualification and am presently completing an Ed.D. at Queens University.   As a qualified teacher I have worked within mainstream and Special Educational Needs contexts.  I held the role of Senior Teacher and led a Shared Education Partnership which contributed to QUB research into shared education. I have served as President for the Ulster Teachers’ Union (2012-13) and The National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN, 2012-14).  In both roles I was able to develop my leadership style and enhance my repertoire of skills to effectively lead and present locally, nationally and internationally.  I currently hold the position as chairperson of NASEN Specialist Provision Advisory Group (UK). I am an ambassador of Mental Toughness and promotion in N. Ireland. As an Associate Partner of AQR, I have worked directly with clients and facilitated CPD events.  Mental Toughness remains an area of research interest and I have been able to carry out local research to investigate if mental toughness is a factor in how teachers cope with pupils who have challenging behaviour within the classroom.  I endeavour to extend my research in this area being involved in several projects in the InteRRaCt lab.


Ms Michele Leigh Schneebeck

Michele has recently completed her MSc in the Psychology of Childhood Adversity at Queen’s University Belfast with a dissertation on the structure of individual differences.  She holds a Psychology BSc from the University of Washington in Seattle, and studied medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA.  In addition to assisting in the lab, she is working toward further studies in psychology and neuroscience in pursuit of a career in academic research.  Her areas of interest include atypical sensory processing, sensory sensitivity, and thought disorders.  She is particularly interested in examining how these manifest in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Schizophrenia, and other mood and behavior disorders.


Mrs Lisa Mc Swiggan

I have been an A Level teacher in I.C.T. for over 10 years, alongside 3 years’ experience of examining and marking A- level papers for CCEA.  I have an MSc in Programming and Information management systems, I also hold a C.I.P.D. training qualification. I recently decided to give up my permanent teaching post and return to university in order to retrain in the field of Psychology.

I am particularly interested in methods of learning, cognitive development of the child, and the well-being of the child and the stimulation of creative learning techniques. I joined Dr. Kostas Papageorgiou’s research team in November 2016 and discovered quickly the relevance of childhood experiences, internal predispositions, environmental stability versus adverse childhood experiences, symptoms of psychopathology and the extent to which the cumulative nature of biological and cognitive development all support feelings and behaviours within adult life. With a background in teaching, I have witnessed on numerous occasions that when a pupil is experiencing emotional and behavioural difficulties, this very often has negative implications vis-a-vis educational attainment.

In the InteRRaCT lab, I have been involved in recruiting schools and participants, collecting questionnaire data from both parents and teachers, I have also contributed to the ethical application process and given presentations on research associated with the project during weekly meetings. In future research work, I wish to further develop my knowledge by completing the PhD in Educational Child and Adolescent Psychology.


Ms Sarah Wallace

Upon completing my BSc Hons in Biomedical Science (Nottingham, 2016), I established a keen interest in research through a project exploring ‘The effects glucolipotoxicity upon pancreatic β-cells’ in association diabetes researcher, Dr Mark Turner.

In returning to Belfast, I began my most recent work with Action on Hearing Loss, providing communication support to individuals within the deaf community.  The vast demand for British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters was my first glimpse into the communication disparity, due to health professionals’ deficits in BSL and deaf awareness. Subsequently, physical, emotional and mental wellbeing can deteriorate. I gained insight into the psychological effects of deafness on individuals and began researching mental and emotional issues experienced by the deaf; anger, anxiety, depression and decreased cognitive development.

This post led to my current studies at Queen’s University where I am undertaking an MSc in Psychological Sciences (conversion). It is here that I have become a research associate of the InteRRaCt Lab, under the supervision of Dr. Papageorgiou. Work on the Beyond Good and Evil project will provide me with further training in quantitative analysis, developing my data collection and interpretation abilities. The project will use SPSS and eye-tracking techniques, allowing me to expand my research skill-set.

My areas of interest include non-verbal communication, social isolation, personality psychology and cognitive development.



MSc & BSc Students

Ms Lena Andrä 

My Name is Lena Andrä (or Andrae) and I was born and raised in Cologne Germany. From 2013 – 2014 I completed an international Voluntary Service at an Outdoor Education Centre (Greenhill YMCA)  in Northern Ireland. This is where I first fell in love with the country. From 2014 – 2017  I gained my B.Sc. Psychology at the University of Bonn Germany. During my years there I also worked as a student research assistant for the department of Differential and Biological Psychology under Prof. Dr. Martin Reuter. From 2017 – 2018 I worked as a Leadership Studio Intern at Muskoka Woods Canada. This past summer I had the opportunity to lead the Exceptionality Programme for children with ASD at Muskoka Woods Canada. My work there inspired me to continue my studies through an M.Sc. in Psychology of Childhood Adversity at Queens University Belfast where I would like to deepen my research skills within the PACT Project under Dr. Kostas Papageorgiou. In the future I would like to join the DECAP Programme at Queens University Belfast and work as an Educational Psychologist.


Ms Delfina Bilello

Following my graduation from the BSc course in Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast receiving the Top BSc Honours Psychology Student Award and the BPS Undergraduate Award, I am currently an MSc student (2018-2019) on the course Psychology of Childhood Adversity in the same university.

I have gained relevant experience volunteering for SLV (Sri Lanka Volunteers) delivering therapies to a wide variety of service users, particularly children. I am occasional befriender in Sant Pere Claver (Barcelona, Spain), a residence for homeless people with mental health conditions. Also, I am currently working in Barnardo’s as a Children’s Project Worker. Additionally, I have acquired research experience through my work in the InteRRaCt Lab as well as my work as a RA in the Centre for Identity and Intergroup Relations focusing on prosocial behaviour and intergroup attitudes among NI children. Through these projects I developed my interests in developmental and child psychopathology as well as individual differences. Particularly, focusing on the role of life experiences in shaping personality.

This year I will further develop my research skills as part of my MSc dissertation working on the Beyond Good and Evil project, exploring the relationship between personality traits and intelligence using eye-tracking techniques and network models to analyse the results. After graduation I am hoping to pursue a PhD degree in the areas of psychopathology, personality and clinical child psychology under the supervision of Dr. Papageorgiou.


Ms Claire-Louise Gill

Having graduated from my BSc (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Stirling I wanted to further my education with regards to childhood studies. Whilst completing my undergraduate degree I additionally supplemented my education with voluntary experience supporting children who had experienced divorce and separation with the use of a Cognitive Behavioural Framework and obtained a placement opportunity within Family Mediation Central Scotland. Currently I am enrolled on the MSc Psychology of Childhood Adversity course and hope to enhance my knowledge and experience by taking part in the PaCT project.


Ms Helen Innes

I am originally from Scotland and moved to Northern Ireland in 2010 where I studied Childcare, Learning and Development. I then gained a First Class Honours Degree in Early Childhood Studies from Liverpool John Moores’ University, England in 2015. After completion and on return to Northern Ireland I have been working in a Reggio Emilia Nursery as their Toddler Playschool leader for the past three years where I have gained an extensive insight into the importance of early years, from both an educational and holistic perspective. My role is to facilitate a stimulating learning environment for children aged 3-4, take developmental assessments and ensure the social and emotional needs of each individual child are being met. I am currently enrolled on the Msc Psychology of Childhood Adversity programme, where I aim to further my knowledge in regards to the psychological and genetic influences that occur during those early stages and their impact on child development. I am excited to join the PaCT Project alongside fellow researchers in the discovery of new data underpinning adolescent and child outcomes in relation to parental adverse childhood experiences (ACE’S).  Throughout my career thus far I have encountered work with children of all ages, various backgrounds and an array of special educational needs. I am very passionate about positive intervention in the early years and I hope that furthering my knowledge over the upcoming year will allow me to gain success in the field of child psychology in the future.


Ms Rachel Mooney

My name is Rachel Mooney. I previously completed my BSc (Hons) Psychology degree with Ulster University, Coleraine. After graduation, I worked as a Research Assistant for Praxis Care. During this time, I was inspired to continue with my studies and I enrolled on the MSc Psychology of Childhood Adversity course at Queens University Belfast. I also have recently gained employment with Crossroads Care NI, to work as a special needs children’s activity room worker. I hope to further my research skills within the PaCT project supervised by Dr Kostas Papageorgiou and in the future, join the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programme at Queens University Belfast. From there, I hope to eventually begin a career as a paediatric clinical psychologist.


Ms Hannah Speers

Upon completing my BA (Hons) in Early Primary Education with QTS at Northumbria University, I establish a keen interest in child/ developmental psychology. I decided to further my studies and enrolled in the MSc Psychology of Childhood Adversity course at Queens University Belfast where I will deepen my research skills through my involvement in the PaCT project.


Ms Rebecca Stevenson

Having gained my BSc in Psychology (2018) within Queen’s University, Belfast, I have decided to continue my studies through an MSc in Childhood Adversity. I have been a Research Associate within the InteRRact Lab for two years, involved initially with PaCT and, more recently, conducting research within the Beyond Good and Evil project. The latter formed the basis of my undergraduate thesis, supervised by Dr. Papageorgiou, and my undergraduate work within the Interract lab helped me to achieve a Degree Plus award alongside my BSc qualification. Through these projects, together with my other research involvement at Queen’s I have established skills in research design, recruitment, data collection, analysis and reporting of various types of data. During my time at Queens, I have been employed as a Research Assistant on several projects within the School of Psychology, including children’s cognition, postural control, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Parkinson’s Disease. I have assisted in conducting systematic reviews, interventions and lab studies, and wish to expand my research skills further during my Master’s degree.

This year, I hope to build upon my undergraduate work on personality and expand my research skills to include collection and analysis of eye-tracking data. My main research interest remains in the development of personality, particularly in the context of adversity, with a focus on the relationships between certain traits and how personality influences various outcomes in everyday life, and look to pursue a PhD and research career in this area.


Mrs Shahrzad Taggart

I graduated from Southampton university with my BSc in Psychology in 2015 and particularly interested in the effects of early experiences on adult outcomes. I went on to work with inpatient children with severe learning disabilities in belfast, which has motivated me to gain more psychological knowledge in this area. I will be working in the InteRRaCt team as part of my MSc in the Psychology of Childhood Adversity at Queens, which I hope will lead me to an associate psychologist post, working directly with children, to help them improve their quality of life.


Ms Rachel Twells

Having achieved a BA qualification in Criminology and Sociology at Queens, I wanted to expand my knowledge and education further. I have always had a keen interest in childhood and its impact on later life; therefore I have pursued this interest by continuing my studies and enrolled in the Masters in Psychology of Childhood Adversity course. Further to this course, I have also joined Kostas and colleagues in the PaCT project. I am really excited to be involved within this project as it sparks an interest of mine, as it investigates the impact and effect parents have on their children and their future. My background in Criminology and Sociology has allowed me to investigate and study children and adolescences in different ways than possibly psychology students have. For example, I have focused more specifically and in depth on children and adolescent’s experiences within the Criminal Justice System and generally throughout society. I feel I will be able to bring a new perspective to both my studies and the PaCT project as I will be able apply my Criminology and Sociology background, alongside my newly learned Psychology in order to provide different insights and understandings.

I hope that by completing this Masters and by joining the PaCT project I will, not only expand my knowledge and learning, but also expand my career prospects and allow me work with children and families in productive ways.