1983 …2018

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Interests

My research interests are concentrated around the following general themes:

Behavioural development and health

Prenatal development of human fetal behaviour: The use of fetal behaviour as a diagnostic tool to detect handicap; quantitative analysis of the development of behaviour and behavioural states in the human fetus; learning and sensory development in the human fetus and its relation to the developing CNS; assessing neural effects of environmental teratogens, including drugs of abuse, in utero; maternal effects on the developing fetus; fetal behaviour in fetuses with neural abnormalities.

Comparative behavioural development: comparison of embryonic and neonatal neurobehavioural development in amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals to explore common and unique aspects of early development; fetal development in the dog and fading puppy syndrome as a model for SIDS in human infants; fetal and neonatal development in the sheep and its relation to neonatal mortalilty and vigour.

Animal behaviour

Kin recognition: the development and mechanisms of kin recognition; the influence of kinship on the social behaviour of animals; developmental mechanisms of kin recognition. Olfaction: olfactory detection in dogs; primate olfaction; comparative olfactory acuity. Animal Welfare: study of behaviour in zoo animals, in particular behaviour in endangered species undergoing breeding programmes for species survival; enrichment programmes for 'captive' animals; welfare in captive reptiles; welfare in rescue shelter animals.

Psychosocial outcome of facial disfigurement

The effect of cleft lip and palate on health, psychological and social well-being; features of dentition and mandible growth and their role in determining attractiveness; psychological impact of orthodontic surgery; factors determining patient willingness to undergo orthodontic surgery.


I currently teach:

PSY1006 Everday Psychology - Criminal Profiling, Touch, Threat assessment, School shootings

PSY2062 - Interviewing

PSY3080 - Psychology of Serial Killers


I teach Governance, Ethics at Postgraduate level.


I undertook a BSc(Hons) in Psychology at the University of Exeter and then moved to the psychology department in Durham to complete a PhD on "Kin Recognition in the Rat" supervised by Prof MJ Morgan. I then came to Queen’s Belfast and was appointed as Professor in 1993. I am a chartered psychologist and Fellow of the British Psychological Society. In 2007 I was awarded The Thomas R. Verny Award for Outstanding Contributions to Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health by the American Association of Pre- and Perinatal Psychology & Health.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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