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    Research Statement

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

    I have collaborated with 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 early 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.



    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 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


    Willingness to take 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

    Frequent Journals

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    Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

    ID: 53776