PacLab Graduates

Dr Katie Howard

Katie’s main research interests are in multilingualism, mental health and developmental conditions. Her PhD investigated the lived experiences of bilingual children on the autism spectrum and was jointly supervised by Dr Jenny Gibson and Dr Napoleon Katsos as part of the MEITS (Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies) project ( Katie is currently working as a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Exeter and teaches on training programmes for mental health practitioners in educational settings.  

Dr Gill Francis

Gill's work includes researching the relationship between play and cognitive development - specifically the development of thinking skills like counterfactual-reasoning and executive-functions. Gill's PhD research, supervised by Dr Jenny Gibson, explored theoretical claims that pretend-play and counterfactual reasoning are related cognitive skills. Gill has been awarded an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of York from October 2020 to further her PhD work and investigate the role of genetics on play and cognitive development. Gill is also broadly interested in 'International Development' research that supports child development and learning opportunities for marginalised children. Currently, Gill works as a Research Associate with the EdTech Hub University of Cambridge

Dr Zhen Rao

Zhen’s research interests lie in the interplay between play, emotions, and mental health. She is particularly interested in social play (e.g., parent-child play, peer play) and how it is related to parental and child emotional expression (e.g., display of positive emotions and expression of anger) and mental health (e.g., anxiety and depression). Zhen’s PhD research, supervised by Dr Jenny Gibson, investigated social pretend play and its links to emotional development in 7- to 10-year-old children. Zhen is currently working as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the PEDAL Centre at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

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Dr Draško Kašćelan 

Draško is a linguist and a post-doctoral research assistant at the University of Leeds, currently working on a project investigating quantification of bilingual experience. During his PhD, he worked on bilingualism, autistic-like traits, cognitive skills and metaphor understanding in children under the supervision of Dr Napoleon Katsos and Dr Jenny Gibson. His other areas of interest include code-switching, pragmatic language development, language processing, and language impairment. 

Dr Curtis Shama

Curtis is a researcher looking at neurodiversity in bilingual and monolingual children. His doctoral research examined whether there were any differences in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-related behaviour, ADHD symptoms, and executive functions. Working from a transdiagnostic approach he aims to discover whether the cognitive and behavioural profiles of bilingual and EAL (English as an Additional Language) differ from those of monolingual children.