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Miss Ellen Ridley

Research Postgraduate


AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Research Postgraduate in the Department of PsychologyRH015+44 (0) 191 33 42430



I completed my BSc (Hons) Psychology at Newcastle University in 2015. Following this, I worked as a Research Assistant on two grant-funded projects (from Nuffield Foundation and Baily Thomas Charitable Fund) on aspects of typical and atypical child development. In 2016 I worked on a project exploring music perception in Williams syndrome at Durham University, and later, at Goldsmiths University of London. In 2017 I worked on a randomised-controlled trial at Sheffield University, testing the effectiveness of an executive function training intervention for improving cognitive and academic skills in disadvantaged pre-schoolers.

Im 2018 I completed my MA Research Methods (Developmental Psychology) at Durham University. My MA thesis explored social interactions in children with different neurodevelopmental conditions (including Autism, Williams syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and ADHD). This was a collaborative project with Professor Sue Leekam, Cardiff University and was awarded the Masters Award by PsyPAG, British Psychological Society.

I am the postgraduate representative for the Developmental Section of the British Psychological Society.

Alongside research, I enjoy being a part of exciting and worthwhile projects that seek to support vulnerable groups in society. In 2015 I worked as an mental health volunteer in the Sri Lankan community. Since 2018 I have been volunteering with the Edinburgh-based charity SuperTroop.

Research Area

I am conducting doctoral research within the Centre for Developmental Disorders. The aim of my research is to explore pathways to social vulnerability in individuals with neurodevelopmental conditions. The neurodevelopmental conditions Autism and Williams syndrome are the primary focus, as they are each characterised by significant social challenges, heightened anxiety and the presence of learning disability. The research aims to understand the factors that contribute to social vulnerability in these populations, focusing on the role of social behaviours, emotions and mental health, and cognitive skills. The overall goal will be to produce a new model of social vulnerability that can help us to understand how best to support families concerned about social vulnerability.

The project is funded by a Doctoral Fellowship awarded by the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund. In my research I work closely with the Williams Syndrome Foundation (WSF) and they are a collaborative partner on my PhD.

Research interests

  • Neurodevelopmental conditions
  • Mental health
  • Autism
  • Williams syndrome
  • Social behaviour
  • Anxiety

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