• Room 06.306 - Medical Biology Centre

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Dr Perra is open to PhD applications in the fields of: - Charting, monitoring, and understanding the development of learning and behaviour of term and pre-term infants - Interventions to improve term and pre-term infants’ learning and social learning skills - Developmental outcomes of Cerebral Palsy children

20052020

Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Focus

My research revolves around the early experiences that explain individual differences in children’s adaptation and socio-cognitive abilities.


I have worked on longitudinal studies of childhood (the Cardiff Child Development Study) and adolescence (the Belfast Youth Development Study), investigating the association between exposure to maternal depression and children’s learning abilities; early signs of aggressive behaviour in childhood; risk factors for ADHD; family and school-level factors affecting adolescent’s substance use and offending behaviour.

I have expertise in advanced quantitative methods applied to longitudinal studies, and RCTs.


I am currently working on a feasibility study of an attention training programme for very preterm infants (born before completion of 32 weeks of gestation). The programme uses eye-trackers to develop preterm infants' abilities to control attention.


I am the co-PI of the Northern Ireland Cerebral Palsy Register, which has continuously recorded information on children with Cerebral Palsy since the 1980s. I am currently collaborating on projects that investigate key risk factors for CP and children’s outcomes by linking data from this register to other datasets.

 

Leadership roles

Chair of the School Research Ethics Committee, School of Nursing & Midwifery.

 

Currently funded research projects:

Perra O., Alderdice F., Wass S., Clarke M., McNulty A., Sweet D., & Papageorgiou K. (2018-2019). A feasibility study of the Attention Control Training (ACT) intervention amongst very preterm (VP) infants. Enabling Research Award, Public Health Agency - HSC Research & Development Division.

 

Perra O. & Kerr C. (2014-2019). The Northern Ireland Cerebral Palsy Register. Public Health Agency

 

Completed research projects:

G. Macdonald, F. Alderdice, M.Clarke, O.Perra, F.Lynn (2016-2018). Right from the start: A pilot study for a randomised trial of the New Baby Programme for improving outcomes for children born to socially vulnerable mothers. Opportunity-led research reseach funded by Public Health Agency.

   Garcia-Jalon, G., Perra, O., Thurston, A., Gavin, A., & O’Reilly, D. (2016). Exploring the problem of pain in the Cerebral Palsy population: Piloting a big data approach. Improving Children’s Lives small grant scheme.  Queen’s University Belfast.

    Kathryn Higgins, Oliver Perra, Mark McCann, Claire McCartan, Aisling McLaughlin (2012-2015). Offending behaviour amongst young people in Northern Ireland: A study of neighbourhood, family, school and peer processes. Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) grant (£ 265,253) awarded to Queen’s University Belfast.

  Aisling McLaughlin, Kathryn Higgins, Andrew Percy, & Oliver Perra (2012-2014). Parental alcohol use and resilience. Health and Social Care Northern Ireland grant (£ 191,921) awarded to Queen’s University Belfast.

   Kathryn Higgins, Oliver Perra, Mark McCann, Claire McCartan, & Aisling McLaughlin (2012). Parenting and school level effects: Secondary analysis examining alcohol use trajectories in the context of parental monitoring and school environment. Alcohol Research UK small research grant (£ 35,000) awarded to Queen’s University Belfast.

   Kathryn Higgins, Oliver Perra, Mark McCann, Claire McCartan, & Aisling McLaughlin (2011). lcohol and the affluence paradox: A secondary analysis exploring the health disparities surrounding adolescent alcohol use and alcohol related harm in adulthood. Alcohol Education Research Council. Small Research Grant (£4,700) awarded to Queen’s University.

   Geraldine MacDonald, Laura Dunne, Paula Donaghy, Oliver Perra, et al. (2010). Evaluation of the ready to learn cluster randomised controlled trial. Barnardo’s evaluation project (£ 418,244) awarded to Queen’s University Belfast.

   Oliver Perra (2006-2007). Early social competencies in infancy. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Post-Doctoral Fellowship award (£ 29,926) to Cardiff University.

   Merideth Gattis (PI),  Oliver Perra (co-author), (2001-2003). Early imitation and gaze following. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Research Grant (£37,000) awarded to the University of Sheffield.

 

Teaching

My teaching has included convening of modules on child development and atypical child development for master students, as well as research methods and evidence-based practice for undergraduate students. I have teach quantitative methods, e.g. a course on Latent Transition Analysis during the “Training in Latent Variable Modelling” programme supported by the ESRC, and an introductory course on Stata.

 

Teaching roles

Undergraduate modules:

Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Integrated Midwifery Knowledge module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Sciences (Teaching Evaluations 2019,  score 4.8/5)

Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Contemporary Midwife Practitioner module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Studies (Teaching Evaluations 2018,  score 4.7/5)

Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Integrated Midwifery Knowledge module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Sciences (Teaching Evaluations 2018,  score 5/5)

Evidence-Based Nursing 2 module, Level 2, BSc Nursing

 

Research Statement

My projects have been funded by grants from the ESRC, Alcohol Research UK, and the Northern Ireland government (OFMDFM), among others.

I am currently running a feasibility study of an attention training programme involving very preterm infants, funded by PHA-R&D Division. The study adapts a programme developed by my collaborator, Sam Wass (UEL), to train preterm infants’ ability to control attention. Attention control may provide these infants with the building blocks for developing further learning skills. 

I am the co-PI of the Northern Ireland Cerebral Palsy Register, a register of all children with this condition in Northern Ireland funded by PHA. I am using this database to develop data-linkage research projects and investigate key risk factors, and the processes that may explain differences in developmental outcomes of these children. 

I have expertise in the application of advanced quantitative methods to longitudinal analyses (e.g. multilevel hierarchical models; latent growth models; etc.) and in the evaluation of Randomised Controlled Trials.

Research Interests

I am a developmental psychologist with expertise in quantitative research methods and advanced statistics. My research interests lie in the mechanisms that explain individual differences in children's and adolescents’ behaviour (e.g. aggressive behaviour), their abilities to learn from others (e.g. the ability to imitate), and the development of early interventions involving at-risk groups (e.g. infants born very preterm).

Achievements

My research has been consistently published in the top quartile of peer-reviewed journals in my discipline, e.g. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines (SNIP 2.224; SJR 3.305), Addiction (SNIP 2.037; SJR 2.777), Development and Psychopathology (SNIP 1.123; SJR 1.685). My research was returned in the 2014 REF and will be returned in the 2021 REF.

My citation rates (Scopus H-Index = 11; Documents = 26; Total citations = 522) are consistent with the median for UK Professors reported by Watson et al. 2016 (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jan.12924 )

I have also disseminated my research internationally through invited talks and workshops (e.g. MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow; Child Psychiatry Unit, Brotzu Hospital, University of Cagliari, Sardinia Italy; Kore University, Enna, Sicily, Italy).

My conference presentations are to major international audiences in the fields of developmental psychology and public health (e.g.   International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions Meeting; invited talks at the Surveillance of Cerebral Palsy in Europe meeting).

 

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Projects

Research Output

Northern Ireland Cerebral Palsy Register linked to Secondary Care and Mortality data: Healthcare Utilization of Children and Young People

Carter, B., Bennett, V., Jones, H., Bethel, J., Perra, O., Wang, T. & Kemp, A., 12 Mar 2020, (Accepted) In : Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
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  • 7 Downloads (Pure)

    Training attention control of very preterm infants: protocol for a feasibility study of the Attention Control Training (ACT)

    Perra, O., Wass, S., McNulty, A., Sweet, D., Papageorgiou, K., Johnston, M., Patterson, A., Bilello, D. & Alderdice, F., 10 Feb 2020, In : Pilot and Feasibility Studies. 6, 1, 11 p., 17.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
    File
  • 18 Downloads (Pure)

    Prizes

    Florence Elliott Travel award

    Oliver Perra (Recipient), 2019

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

    Activities

    Network Analysis Worksphop

    Oliver Perra (Participant)
    13 Feb 202014 Feb 2020

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    Reviewer on behalf of Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong

    Oliver Perra (Reviewer)
    2020

    Activity: Consultancy typesContribution to the work of national or international committees and working groups

    What Works Summit: Early Years

    Oliver Perra (Participant)
    13 Feb 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    Faculty Office MHLS (Organisational unit)

    Oliver Perra (Board Member)
    2019 → …

    Activity: Membership typesMembership of peer review panel or committee

    Engaging with Parliaments Workshop

    Oliver Perra (Participant)
    25 Jan 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    Press / Media

    BBC Sunday Politics Wales: Setting up a Cerebral Palsy Register in Wales

    Oliver Perra

    03/03/2019

    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment