Laboratory for Innovation in AutismOur team

Current team

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Yu Wei Chua, Postgraduate Research Student (PhD)

Yu Wei Chua completed her BA in Natural Sciences (Physiology and Psychology) at the University of Cambridge and a MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences in University College London. Her PhD focuses on assessing motor control in children with autism using wearable sensors and motion capture, and linking this to psychological processes such as learning and cognition. She is interested in the aetiology of mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions, especially to understand how early difficulties with motor planning and control might cascade into the patterns of social interaction and communication seen in autism.

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Tim McGowan, Postgraduate Research Student (PhD)

Tim McGowan graduated from the University of Oxford in 2009 with a BA in History. Following his undergraduate degree, Tim worked as a management consultant in the City of London (specialising in large scale business transformation and information security) before completing an MSc in Psychology at the University of Nottingham. He is also a qualified teacher and Teach First ambassador. Currently, Tim is researching the relationship between movement and autism and is working to develop and deploy lightweight and wearable sensors for the ecological characterisation of the autism motor signature in very young children and infants.

Rachel Shannon - Postgraduate Research Student (PhD)

Rachel Shannon completed her MA (Hons) in Linguistics at The University of Edinburgh in 2021 and has experience working in mainstream and additional needs education.  Her PhD centres around language development in autistic children, with a focus on the role of parent-child interactions.  Rachel’s aim is to explore questions around this topic with input from several disciplines, using both theoretical and technological innovations.  Her supervision team of Professor Jonathan Delafield-Butt (Child Development) and Dr Susan McCool (Speech and Language Therapy) reflects this, and her hope to produce work that is applicable in education, in clinical practice, and in the home. 

 Ismail Okatan - Postgraduate Research Student (PhD)

Ismail Okatan graduated from Eskişehir Osmangazi University Special Education Teaching Undergraduate Program. He completed his master's degree at Gazi University in the Department of Special Education. Ismail's master's thesis aimed at improving social skills and social acceptance of students with autism in the inclusive classroom. He is currently working toward a PhD at The Strathclyde Institute of Education. Ismail's doctoral work takes an embodied approach to understanding the importance of classroom-based physical activities for students with autism and will measure their effect.  Ismail’s work brings together physical activity, embodiment, autism, movement and technology for improved movement-based interventions in the classroom.

Daniel Mayol Jimenez -  Postgraduate Research Student (PhD)

Daniel Mayol Jimenez completed his BSc in Psychology at the Universitat de Barcelona and his MSc in Developmental Psychology at the University of Dundee.  He is undertaking his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Delafield-Butt and Dr. Essex, investigating the nature and dynamics of restricted and special interests of students with autism in educational settings.  This work aims to identify the most successful strategies to incorporate students’ interests into curriculum activities to enhance academic performance and well-being.



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Adam Mitchell, Postgraduate Research Student (PhD)

Adam Mitchell has a BA in Neuroscience from the University of Glasgow and an M.Sc. with Distinction in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Strathclyde. He is currently working on his PhD at the University of Strathclyde, under the supervision of Dr Jonathan Delafield-Butt, to develop wearable sensors and serious games for smart devices to assist in early diagnosis of autism.

Evelyn Tonner, Laboratory Administrator

Evelyn Tonner has been with the Univeristy since June 2016, when she returned from a year of travelling. During her travels she visited India, South East Asia and Australia, while in Australia she volunteered for the local riding for the disabled club and the Australian Red Cross. Evelyn has a wealth of administration experience. She started her admin career as an office Junior in 2003 from there she worked in a wide range of different offices from private companies to local and national government agencies, building on her knowledge and skills throughout.

She completed her HNC in Business Administration and IT in 2008, and completed 3 business management modules through Open University between 2011-2012.  She completed an SVQ in Business Administration at SCQF level 8 in February 2022.


Greta Todorova, Research Assistant

Greta Todorova has an M.Sc. with Distinction in Research Methods of Psychological Sciences from the University of Glasgow. She is currently finishing her PhD in Psychology at the University of Glasgow focusing on autism and predictive coding. She is a part-time Research Assistant, working on the set up of a 7T MRI pilot study funded by SINAPSE, which is looking to resolve the differences in brainstem nuclei between neurotypical and autistic individuals.


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Louise McKeever, Postgraduate Research Student (PhD)

Louise McKeever completed her PhD at the University of Strathclyde. Her research focused on the relationship between speech, language, and fine motor control difficulties in children with autism. She used ultrasound tongue imaging to investigate speech motor control in children with ASD. Her interests included ASD conditions, ultrasound tongue imaging, speech motor control, and language.

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Elaine Hutton, Research Assistant

Elaine Hutton holds a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Developmental Psychology from the University of Dundee, in addition to a background in nursing and education. She is interested in how neurodevelopmental disorders impact future life outcomes, especially in children and adults on the autistic spectrum.

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Rachel Miller, Project Administrator

Rachel Miller previously worked at the University of Sussex in a number of roles in Research and Enterprise Services. Her academic background is in Psychology surrounding aspects of health, disability and chronic illness, and has worked with young people with autism and learning disabilities. Since leaving the lab, she is working toward an MSc in Health Psychology at the University of Stirling.

Maria Ferrara, Postgraduate Research Student (PhD)

Maria Ferrara was a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde. She investigated motor difficulties in children with autism during early childhood. In particular, she used iPad games to detect specific motor profile that may lead to novel, fun, technological diagnostic tools. She also investigated potential benefit of intensive motor training (Waldon Approach) during early childhood on social abilities.

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Omar Alawajee, Postgraduate Research Student (PhD)

Omar Alawajee completed his BA in Special Education and his MSc in Autism. He completed his PhD studying the benefits of using video games in teaching social skills for children with autism spectrum disorder and students with hearing loss at the University of Strathclyde in 2019. He is presently a lecturer at Qassim University in Saudi Arabia.