About me

I am a Principal Researcher in psychiatric epidemiology at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, where I have been working since 2015. I have a background in psychology, PhD in behavioral genetics, and postdoctoral training in epidemiology. 

Grants as PI

MQ Mental Health Research (2021-2023) Causes and consequences of mental health challenges in autistic individuals during the transition to adulthood

PhD Students

Miriam Martini (main supervisor)

Torkel Carlsson (Department of Women and Children's Health, co-supervisor)

I have co-supervised two students who have defended their theses: Pei-Yin Pan (Department of Women and Children's Health) and Lin Li (Örebro University).

 

 

Research description

My research focuses on co-occurring conditions in autistic individuals, with a particular focus on mental and physical health problems across the lifespan. Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects social communication, behavioral routines, and the senses. Most autistic individuals have at least one co-occurring condition, with over 70% of autistic people meeting diagnostic criteria for at least one mental health problem. Recent work increasingly highlights that physical health problems are also a common concern in autistic people.

My research applies multiple approaches from different disciplines, including psychology, genetics, and epidemiology, to investigate why this is the case. In relation to mental health, my current work focuses on identifying the main risk factors for these conditions in autistic individuals and what the main outcomes associated with these co-occurring mental health problems are. In relation to physical health, I am currently focusing on investigating the incidence of physical conditions in autistic individuals at multiple stages of the lifespan, from early adulthood to elderly life.

The ultimate goal of my research is to improve mental and physical health for autistic people by identifying the reasons why these co-occurring conditions are so common, developing improved methods of detecting them, and identifying barriers to autistic individuals accessing healthcare. 

Teaching portfolio

I co-lead the behavioral genetics component of the differential psychology module in the psychology program. I am happy to discuss degree projects with students with similar interests to mine. 

 

Education

2010-2013 PhD Behavioural Genetics, Institute of Education, London, UK

2009-2010 MSc (with Distinction) Psychological Research Methods, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

2006-2009 BSc (Hons) Psychology, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

 

Academic honours, awards and prizes

MQ Mental Health Fellows Award (granted for the period 2021-2023), which currently funds my research on autism and mental health.