Our Experts

Dr Jennifer Austin
Dr Austin’s research focusses on behaviour analytic applications in schools, especially with regard to teacher education, intervention planning and evaluation for typically developing children with severe behavioural challenges, and behaviour analytic teaching strategies for university students. She also interested in the application of Schoolwide Positive Behaviour Support in Welsh primary schools, as well as how school-based behaviour analytic interventions can be transferred to home settings.


Nicola Birdsey
Nicola’s research interests focuses on the psychology of children’s cognitive and emotional development, specifically in relation to academic achievement and emotional wellbeing (including aspects of motivation, resilience and anxiety). She is interested in the role of parents in relation to children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. She has also developed an interest in play and play therapy and have recently been involved in research investigating children’s understanding of the therapeutic process and further work exploring the emotional well being of trainee therapists.


Daniel Bowers
Dan’s research interests centre around social identity, more specifically group membership and inter-group comparisons across the lifespan, the impact of music fanship and sport fanship on identity formation and the application of contemporary models of identification to ‘real life’ elective group members. He has also recently been involved in projects examining the role that group membership plays in terms of psychological well being.


Dr Kevin Crowley
Dr Kevin Crowley’s research interests cover the areas of language and literacy development, particularly in the areas of bilingualism, and how literacy skills change across the lifespan. More recently his research has focused on the role of play in early years education and on play therapy, in particular looking at childcare professionals’ knowledge of and attitudes to this form of therapy.


Dr Gareth Roderique-Davies
Dr Gareth Roderique-Davies is a Health Psychologist. His main research focus is around the area of substance misuse – specifically psychological craving and the long-term psychological effects of recreational drug use. More recently Dr Roderique-Davies has been investigating the notion of craving in the area of extreme sports and its link to sensation seeking. He is also interested in applied Health Psychology research, for example alcohol-related dementia and interventions for pre-diabetic men as well as debunking unsubstantiated “pseudo-psychology” such as NLP.


Dr Joanne Davies


Dr Sue Faulkner
Dr Faulkner is a Health Psychologist whose research interests are broadly in the area of psychological well being and physical health. Research projects include the role of emotional factors in binge eating, binge eating disorder and obesity. The role of health behaviour (diet and exercise) in chronic illness (and risk of developing a chronic condition) including diabetes and coronary heart disease and interventions to change health risk behaviour. Other projects include the role of resilience and health literacy in the management of chronic pain.


Aimee Giles
Aimee’s research area focuses on improving interventions and outcomes for individuals with disabilities. She is interested in pursuing two lines of research: evaluation of interventions and caregiver training. Because children with disabilities are frequently behind their same-age peers academically, it is important to identify the most efficient and effective teaching methods for these children. Therefore, her research is focussed on evaluating evidence-based teaching strategies for children with disabilities and the characteristics of those interventions that result in learning. In addition to evaluating interventions, she focusses on dissemination and best-practice training strategies for teachers and caregivers.


Dr Martin Graff
Martin’s research interests centre on the psychology of behaviour via the Internet, and more specifically include Cognitive processes in web-based learning; Individual differences in website navigation; Online interaction and the formation and dissolution of romantic relationships online. You can find out more on his website.


Ross Hall
Ross is chartered with the BPS and a HCPC registered practitioner sport and exercise psychologist. His primary interest with relation to research is on stress and performances issues. Specifically how perceived stressful situations impact on an individual’s ability to remain performance focused in a variety of real world applications. He has researched stress and performance in sport and more recently in eye surgery, where small uncontrollable movements may lead to potentially harmful and catastrophic performance outcomes.


Prof Ian Stuart-Hamilton
Ian Stuart-Hamilton’s principal research interest is the psychology of ageing, and particularly how intellectual skills change across the lifespan. At the core of this is a long-running series of studies on how performance on what have been considered traditional child development tasks (e.g. Piaget’s conservation studies) are failed or performed atypically by a high proportion of adults. Another active research interest is reading and spelling skills across the lifespan.


Jim Handley
Jim Handley is a Chartered Psychologist (Occupational Psychologist) whose focus is the application of psychological knowledge to real-world problems, particularly in work environments. This has involved training diagnostic reasoning skills in complex industrial settings, the prevention of credit card fraud, management development, negotiation, encouraging ‘green’ (low-carbon) behavior, psychological resilience and well-being.


Sarah Taylor-Jones


Dr Bev John
Dr Bev John is a Health Psychologist. Her main focus is applied research in psychological health, and promoting positive behaviour change in chronic conditions, particularly alcohol misuse; and the development and evaluation of psychological interventions. She is also interested in the social and cognitive antecedents to risky and dependent drinking behaviour. She has developed assessment instruments that are now recommended in NICE guidelines (e.g. FAST Alcohol Screening Test). She has contributed to policy developments and the public debate on alcohol interventions; and has published widely in peer reviewed journals and other relevant media. Bev is also involved in research studies in other health conditions, including Diabetes, Pernicious Anaemia and eating Disorders


Professor Amanda Kirby
Professor Kirby has founded and has run the Dyscovery Centre since 1997, an interdisciplinary centre providing assessment and intervention for children and adults with a range of developmental disorders including Dyspraxia (also known as DCD), ADHD, Dyslexia, Specific Language Impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Behavioural issues. Her background as a GP and also working in community paediatrics and psychiatry has provided a good understanding of developmental disorders in both child and adulthood. She has lectured internationally and is currently patron of the Dyspraxia Association in New Zealand, Advisor to the Dyspraxia Association in Ireland and Medical Advisor to the Dyspraxia Foundation in the UK.


Dr Deborah Lancastle
Dr Lancastle’s research interests include the psychological factors and processes explaining positive psychological and physical progress during stressful health experiences. She aims to understand and explain the psychological mechanisms by which people can maintain good psychological and physical health, even in the face of stressful life-experiences. Her main research interest is in the psychosocial aspects of women’s reproductive health.


Dr Richard May
Dr May’s interests lie in investigating complex human behaviour from a behaviour analytic perspective. Recently, he has explored topics such as derived relational responding, the application of B.F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (1957) to language intervention, staff training for behaviour therapists, and the use of mobile technology as part of instruction.


Dr Peter Mayer


Debra McCarney
Debra (Dee) McCarney came to The Dyscovery Centre after completing an MA (Language and Communication Research) at Cardiff University to take part in a Welsh government funded dyslexia benchmarking project. With a keen interest in multilingualism, Debra is currently cooperating with several European partners in the Dyslang project on multilingualism, dyslexia and additional academic language learning.


Dr Karen McInnes
Dr Karen McInnes has research and teaching interests in the fields of play and playfulness and how this relates to all aspects of children’s development. Current research is focused on how utilising children’s perceptions of play can facilitate learning and classroom practice. She is also involved in research projects looking at aspects of play therapy and therapeutic play.


Dr Gareth Miles Dr Miles has broad interests within the cognitive sciences, with particular emphasis on computational approaches to understanding cognition and human machine interaction. In his research into Cognitive Architecture he has developed a computationally implemented architecture, GLAM-PS, that is intended to explore the implications of research into embodied cognition. This architecture has been used to model problem solving, word semantics, the attentional blink and stroop performance. His Applied work has focused on spatial representation of Virtual Enviroments and the role of images in E-commerce web-based interfaces.


Dr Phillip Morgan
Dr Phillip Morgan’s main research interests are in cognitive experimental psychology, applied psychology, and human factors (HF). One major research area has been to investigate the negative effects of task interruption on performance across a range of tasks, and to explore the efficacy of methods to mitigate these effects. He is very interested in display design and cognitive engineering; particularly how subtle changes to interfaces can affect the strategies we employ to engage in tasks and how these can be exploited to improve particular elements of performance (e.g. memory for suspended goals and intentions).


Dr Janet Pitman
Dr Pitman’s main research areas are cognitive psychology and anomalous psychology. Her projects include the study of the origin and maintenance of paranormal beliefs, the relationship between scientific education and belief and also the processing of perceptual experiences by different belief groups. She is also interested in prospective memory performance in adults, the development of prospective memory in children, and supporting prospective memory in older age. This research recently examined how varying delays effect time-based prospective memory performance in adults. Other projects include children’s reasoning about cause and effect and analogy.


Dr Jane Prince
Dr Jane Prince is a Chartered Psychologist with an interest in life-span development with a specific focus on the consequences to an individual’s identity and identity-related behaviours of challenges, threats and traumas. Her research has included studies of migrants (both voluntary migrants and refugees), identity threats associated with gendered occupations, young and older adults adaptation to change in relationships and accommodation, young adults transitions to university and to work and the consequences of early life difficulties on the development of children. She set up the MSc Play Therapy and the MSc Play and Therapeutic Play at the University.


Dr Catherine Purcell
Dr Catherine Purcell specialises in research that explores the link between perception and action in the context of road crossing. Specifically, her research her led the way nationally and internationally in the perceptual-motor capabilities of children and adults with significant motor coordination difficulties in natural contexts, such as at the roadside.


Dr David Shearer
Dr David Shearer’s research focusses on group dynamics, extreme sports, and readiness to train and compete in elite athlete. He is a BPS Chartered and HPC registered Sport Psychologist and regularly consults with Olympic and Paralympic athletes


Dr Alyson Richards
Dr Alyson Richards is the Director of the Dyscovery Centre, having worked in the field of Developmental Disorders/Specific Learning Difficulties and Behaviour, Emotional and Social Difficulties and Mental Health, with children and adults, for the past thirty years, in the UK and USA, as a Chartered Psychologist, Psychotherapist and Educational Psychologist. Integrating her professional practises, Dr Richards has a particular interest in the overlap between developmental disorders with a focus on the factors that foster educational attainment for those with multifaceted additional learning needs relating to a complex mix of developmental disorders, mental health difficulties, trauma and living in challenging circumstances.


Dr Rachel Taylor
Dr Taylor is interested in deception and the detection of deception using verbal and non-verbal information. More broadly she is interested in deception in young people and older adults and has co-authored a book on deception in young people. She is also involved in projects on the social psychology of elective group membership, specifically the nature of commitment to sports teams.


David Tee
David Tee has a keen interest in coaching psychology. He is working on generating some empirical data for a subdiscipline that, in its early days, has been dominated by qualitative case studies. His particular interest is in the role that the psychotherapeutic ‘active ingredients’ that influence outcome variance play within the related practice of coaching. The prime focus at present is on the role of 'coachee characteristics’.


Dr Marie Thomas
Dr Marie Thomas joined The Dyscovery Centre team in October 2010 following many years as a Research Fellow at Cardiff University and two years as a senior researcher at Swansea University. Whilst at Cardiff, she managed several comercially sponsored projects at the Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology as well as the Cardiff Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Project (which forms the basis for her PhD by Publication). Her research interests include Developmental Disorders / Specific Learning Difficulties, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Psychopathology and Cognition / cognitive performance.



Dr Michal Tombs
Dr Michal Tombs is an applied psychologist whose research focuses on the application of psychological theories in a diverse range of workplace settings. This includes research projects that span across the broad spectrum of occupational psychology such as training, performance appraisal, and career development. With extensive experience of research in the field of individual differences in organisational training, she is now in the process of developing this research further and linking it to disability and employment.

Natalie Williams
Since completing her undergraduate Psychology degree at Swansea University, Natalie has undertaken a number of different psychology based roles working with a variety of different clinical groups before joining the university in September 2010. Natalie is currently undertaking a number of research projects with a focus on Specific Learning Difficulties at The Dyscovery Centre.


Susan Williamson
Sue Williamson is an applied psychologist whose research focuses on the application of psychological theories in a variety of working environments. Her experience and interests lie in the field of Organizational Health and Well Being. She has provided a range of research and consultancy services to the local community and organisations around Newport in areas such as commmunication in organisations, employee well being evaluation and resilience training.

Visiting Profs and Fellows

Prof Linda Speck
Prof Linda Speck is a Consultant Clinician within the ABMU Health board and Head of Health Psychology and Cardiac Rehabilitation Services. Prof Speck has over 30 years experience of working as an applied psychologist within the NHS and is viewed as a leading light in the application of Psychology to a range of clinical and health issues.


Prof Lance Workman
Prof Lance Workman has been in the vanguard of the development of the field of Evolutionary Psychology in the UK. He is a very well known and respected researcher, teacher, public educator and media consultant. He set up the first taught undergraduate module at a British HE institution in evolutionary psychology at the University of Glamorgan and has subsequently written widely on the subject.

Dr Darren James
Dr Darren James is a specialist Clinician within the Aneurin Bevan Trust and is currently setting up the Gwent and South Powys Eating Disorders Clinic. The service is being developed and implemented in accordance with the Welsh Government’s Eating Disorder’s Framework for Wales (2009). As part of this, there is a strategic drive to develop a research agenda which incorporates service-user and carer’s perspectives alongside those of clinicians and researchers. The Health Psychology team within the School are engaged in setting up a number of research projects with Dr James and his team.

Mrs Michele Grey
Michele Gray is a specialist Health Psychologist at the Princess of Wales Hospital Bridgend and is currently involved in delivering a range of Psychological services across the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board area. These services include Cardiac rehabilitation, pre and post operative bariatric surgery interventions, Tinnitus management and Maxillofacial surgery support groups. As part of this, Michele strives to be an evidence-based practitioner and undertakes her applied work alongside a research agenda which incorporates service-user and carer’s perspectives alongside those of clinicians and researchers.