Laura Crane

Laura joined CRAE in 2015 and currently holds the role of Associate Professor and Deputy Director of CRAE.

Laura’s research focuses on understanding the educational experiences of autistic children and young people (in mainstream and special schools), and identifying evidence-based ways to support pupils, their parents and their educators. Laura is passionate about engaging education professionals in research – supporting them to identify priorities for research and co-designing research studies that positively impact on pupil outcomes and wellbeing. 

Laura also has expertise in the following areas: (1) examining the diagnostic and post-diagnostic experiences of autistic people, their families, and the professionals who work with them; and (2) promoting access to justice for witnesses on the autism spectrum (in both the criminal and family justice systems).  Laura’s early work centered on cognition and autism (with a particular focus on autobiographical memory). 

Laura has received a number of awards for her work.  This includes the UCL Provost’s Prize for Public Engagement (2018), the UK research charity Autistica’s Inaugural Community Engagement Award (2018) and a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award (2017).

Central to all of Laura’s work is a commitment to the involvement of the autistic and broader autism communities in the research process; ensuring that research has a strong participatory ethos and is of direct and practical relevance to those it affects.  

Linked to Laura’s commitment to community engagement in research, she is on the steering group of UCL’s new Centre for Co-Production in Health Research, is Chair of the Pan London Autism Schools Network Research Group (fostering partnerships between specialist autism schools and academic researchers) and also serves as Social Media Editor at the Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, where she leads all community engagement initiatives (e.g., podcasts, lay abstracts, social media) at the journal.

On the web: Twitter | LinkedIn | Google Scholar | ResearchGate

Recent publications:

View all publications by Laura Crane

Mel Romualdez

Mel Romualdez, PhD student at CRAE.

Mel joined CRAE as a doctoral student under the supervision of Anna Remington and Zachary Walker.

She recently completed her PhD focusing on the diagnostic disclosure experiences of autistic adults in workplace settings.

Before coming to London, Mel worked for several years at the New York (NY) Center for Autism Charter School, where she taught autistic adolescents and young adults. Through her work as a teacher and job coach, she developed an interest in transition planning, adult support services, and employment for autistic individuals.

She is currently a Lecturer (Teaching) in Psychology at the IOE, serving as Anna Remington’s maternity cover for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

Jade Davies

Role: Research Assistant. 

Bio: Jade joined CRAE as an undergraduate placement student in September 2019. During her time as a placement student, Jade worked on a project examining the post-16 educational experiences of autistic young people, and assisted the CRAE team on a number of other projects. She is currently studying part-time for a Master’s in the Psychology of Education at the University of Manchester.

Research Summary: Since finishing her placement, Jade has primarily been working on the Discover Autism Research and Employment (DARE) project, examining the barriers and facilitators to successful employment for autistic people. In 2021-2022, she also worked on a project looking at the factors influencing the implementation of annual health checks for autistic people. Jade’s research interests are broad and tend to focus on the inequalities that autistic people face.

List of relevant web presences: 

ORCID | Twitter

Five most recent publications:

Kana Umagami

Kana joined CRAE as a PhD student in October 2018. She completed her undergraduate science degree at Northeastern University and a Master’s degree in Counselling Theory at Boston College.

Following this, she received a Distinction in her Postgraduate Certification in Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome at Sheffield Hallam University

Kana’s PhD research at CRAE investigates loneliness in autistic adults, using mixed methods. Her research is particularly looking at the views and experiences of loneliness in autistic adults as well as the loneliness measurement tools for use in autistic adults. This research is supervised by Laura Crane and Anna Remington from CRAE and Bryn Lloyd-Evans from the Division of Psychiatry.

Outside of her role at CRAE, Kana is passionate about supporting autistic individuals more closely. In 2019, she started the first-ever Autistic Peer Group at UCL for autistic students (UCL Autism Society). Currently, she offers various support for autistic people including mentoring:

On the web: Twitter | Google Scholar | ORCID

Recent publications:

Maria Ashworth

Maria Ashworth, PhD Student at CRAE.

Maria is a PhD student at CRAE, tracking and evaluating an education to employment programme for autistic young people called Employ Autism, which was set up by the autism charity Ambitious about Autism.

Anna Remington (CRAE) and Brett Heasman (York St John University) supervise Maria’s research. Maria’s PhD research is tracking and evaluating an education to employment initiative for autistic young people, the Employ Autism network, set up by the education and employment charity, Ambitious about Autism. This is a three-year longitudinal evaluation, and collects data from the autistic young people, employers, and parents/carers to get a more holistic understanding about the transition from education to work for autistic people, and the Employ Autism network.

Before starting as a PhD student, Maria joined CRAE as a Research Assistant in May 2019, working on the Research Passport project and Research Toolkit funded by Autistica, as well as assisting on a number of other projects at CRAE.

Maria completed her BSc in Psychology and MSc in Social and Applied Psychology at the University of Kent. Since graduating, Maria worked as a Research Assistant on two developmental psychology research projects about Education Health and Care plans and a transition to secondary school in autistic children and children with Williams syndrome and Down syndrome. Maria has also volunteered with mental health charities, including Mind and SLV Global.

On the web: LinkedIn | ResearchGate

Recent publications:

Jana Brinkert

Jana Brinkert, PhD student at CRAE.

Jana is a post-doctoral researcher at CRAE. She is currently on maternity leave.

Jana completed her BSc in Psychology at the University of Kent, and her MSc in Psychology of Education at UCL Institute of Education. Jana completed her PhD at CRAE, studying perceptual abilities in autistic people. Jana is interested in strengthening cognitive control in autism. By investigating behavioural performance and electrophysiological measurements, Jana finds out more about brain activity. She is also interested in the impact of anxiety on cognitive processes.

On the web: Twitter | LinkedIn | Google Scholar | ResearchGate

Ginny D’Odorico

Ginny D’Odorico, PhD student at CRAE.

Ginny joined CRAE recently as a first year PHD student in 2020 under the supervision of Laura Crane. Ginny completed a BSc in Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, then a PGCE Primary teaching qualification at the Institute of Education prior to her MSC in SEN with Psychological Perspectives also at the UCL Institute of Education, whereby her first encounter with CRAE was through her final MSc dissertation. 

Ginny has 20 years’ experience as a teacher and senior leader in an autism inclusive school, with a large cohort of autistic students. Currently Deputy Headteacher with strategic leadership of autism and teaching and learning and a member of development group for an autism specific all through school. Ginny’s research interests sit within the Social Communication Emotional Regulation Transactional Support (SCERTS) Framework, but particularly the aspects of the framework that examine autistic communication. 

Ginny is interested in the interactions that pupils have during their school day with staff to better understand which aspects of those interactions are experienced as regulatory by autistic pupils. 

Ginny aims to include contributions of staff and pupils to help explain practice, through the meaningful encounters they have during the school day. 

Ginny has a professional connection with the National Autistic Society (NAS) working for a short time with the NAS Standards Working Group. Ginny is a member of a multidisciplinary reference group for autism currently collaborating with the expert team to steer the vision and philosophy for autism locally in autism inclusive and autism schools. 

Ginny hopes that her research will provide a broader understanding of the elements of the SCERTS Framework around social interactions and the links SCERTS makes with emotional regulation of autistic individuals. She hopes this work will help to understand the role of emotional regulation plays in the broader context of providing effective person centred educational support for autistic individuals. 

Emeline Han

Emeline Han, PhD student at CRAE.

Emeline joined CRAE as a PhD student in September 2020. . Emeline’s PhD research aims to: (1) systematically review the literature on autistic people’s experiences of stigma and coping strategies; (2) develop a stigma-related support programme for autistic adults using a participatory approach; (3) conduct an initial evaluation of the feasibility and acceptability of this programme. She is supervised by Laura Crane and Katrina Scior.

Emeline has a background in public health research. She completed her MSc in Global Health and Development at UCL before working as a research assistant at the National University of Singapore. One of the projects she led on was a qualitative study examining the provision of autism services and supports in Singapore from the perspectives of service providers, autistic adults, and parents of autistic children. 

Emeline hopes to continue conducting research that is participatory in nature and will have a meaningful impact on the lives of autistic people.

On the web: ResearchGate

Recent publications:

  • Han, E., Scior, K., Heath, E. L., Umagami, K., & Crane, L. (2022). Development of stigma-related support for autistic adults: insights from the autism community. OSF Preprints.
  • Han, E., Scior, K., Avramides, K., & Crane, L. (2021). A systematic review on autistic people’s experiences of stigma and coping strategies. Autism Research, 15(1), 12-26.
  • Han, E., Tan, M., Crane, L., & Legido-Quigley, H. (2021). A qualitative study of autism services and supports in Singapore: Perspectives of service providers, autistic adults and caregivers. Autism, 25(8), 2279-2290.

Alison Livemore

Alison Livemore, PhD student at CRAE.

Alison joined CRAE as a part-time PhD student in 2018 under the supervision of Laura Crane. Alison’s research investigates good autism practice in Additional Resource Provisions (ARPs) for autistic pupils. She studies the perspectives of professionals, parents and pupils with regards to educating autistic pupils in ARPs.

Alison wants to develop a greater understanding of good autism practice in ARPs for autistic pupils, and consider the implications of this for those practices which lack understanding (e.g., leading to exclusion) – when comparing participants’ experiences and perspectives to previous research.

Her research will contribute more broadly to effective practice in one particular educational provision (ARPs), successful systems in ARPs and learning approaches used. When considering placement, it will provide professionals within the EHC Panel team in-depth understanding of what a good autism ARP provides. This will support appropriate placement for individuals and may constitute a factor in reducing exclusion (ensuring pupils are in correct placements to meet their individual needs).

On the web: LinkedIn | Website

Clare Truman

Clare Truman, PhD student at CRAE.

Clare has been teaching for ten years, most recently in a school for autistic children and young people. She is founder of Spectrum Space, a not-for-profit organisation that provides tuition to autistic children who find it difficult to access school. Clare completed her BA in Education Studies at Cambridge University and her PGCE and Masters in Policy Studies at the Institute of Education.

Clare’s PhD research focuses on autistic children who display extreme avoidance of everyday demands. Some clinicians ascribe the term, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) to autistic individuals with this profile. They advocate support strategies that can be very different to those recommended for the majority of autistic children and young people. Others argue that there is not enough evidence for the existence of PDA as a separate condition. Clare compares the educational and support experiences of school-aged autistic children who display extreme demand avoidance behaviour, with or without a PDA diagnosis. Her research is supervised by Liz Pellicano and Laura Crane.

On the web: Twitter | LinkedIn

Ellie Buckley

Ellie Buckley, PhD student at CRAE.

Ellie, now graduated, was a PhD student at CRAE, where she examined the prevalence of autistic traits in the performing arts. She investigated autistic traits, and their links to creativity in the performing arts. She identified areas of strength and challenge, and designs interventions to promote inclusion, both in education and employment. Her research project was in collaboration with The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and supervised by Anna Remington and Liz Pellicano.

Before that she completed a Master’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL. Prior to this, she completed a dual honours degree in Neuroscience and Psychology at Keele University

On the web: Twitter | LinkedIn | Google Scholar | ResearchGate

Amber Pryke-Hobbes

Amber Pryke-Hobbes is an undergraduate Psychology student from the University of Kent, carrying out her third-year placement at CRAE.

Role: Former undergraduate placement student 

Bio: Amber was an undergraduate Psychology student from the University of Kent, who carried out her third-year placement at CRAE.

Over the course of her placement, she assisted the CRAE team with ongoing research projects, learning more about autism and the research process surrounding it.  

Research Summary: Amber is interested in research which focuses on improving the employment opportunities available to both autistic jobseekers and existing employees. 

Research and activities: Amber worked with Anna Remington and Jade Davies on the Discover Autism Research and Employment (DARE) project, promoting autistic employment.

As part of this, Amber explored the camouflaging experiences of autistic employees with the hope of creating a fact sheet for employers outlining how they can better support autistic employees who may be camouflaging.

She also worked closely with CRAE’s Artist in Residence and Honorary Researcher Ali Northcott to deliver a series of virtual events which explore aspects of the autistic experience through the arts.