Who are we?

Our team is made up of researchers from Birkbeck and the Institute of Education (both part of University of London). We each come from slightly different research backgrounds, but share a common interest in how children – typically developing and those with Williams Syndrome - develop the ability to understand the complex social world. Our wide-ranging experience and expertise makes us uniquely qualified and motivated to carry out this exciting new research project.

Marie Smith

Marie Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck. Her research focuses on how we process faces and facial expressions of emotion. She makes use of specially designed experimental tools to precisely determine which information is critical for the different judgments that we make about faces, and to track how this information is processed by our brains. She began her academic career with a PhD in Physics at the University of Glasgow, and has since gone on to conduct research in Psychology at Glasgow and Cambridge before moving to Birkbeck in 2010. Marie Smith's webpage.

Emily Farran

Emily Farran is a Professor in Developmental Psychology at the Institute of Education, with considerable research experience investigating visuo-spatial cognition in typical and atypical populations. Her research group, the Cognition, Genes and Developmental Variability Lab, specializes in visual and spatial cognition in typical development and in neurodevelopmental disorders, including Williams syndrome. Emily Farran's webpage.

Louise Ewing

Louise Ewing is a lecturer at the University of East Anglia. She completed her postgraduate training, PhD and Masters at the University of Western Australia. Upon completion of her studies she moved to London to take up a postdoctoral fellowship at Birkbeck College investigating face-processing strategies in typically developing children, adults and individuals with Williams syndrome (2014), before beginning her lectureship in 2016. In her research she uses behavioural techniques and electroencephalography to investigate the mechanisms of face and person perception – with a particular interest in how these skills develop in typical children and atypically developing populations, e.g., individuals with autism spectrum disorder, Williams syndrome and Down syndrome.

Inês Mares

Inês Mares is a post-doctoral researcher at Birkbeck College. She completed her PhD in Psychology at Birkbeck College in 2016 after completing a Masters in Neuroscience at University of Lisbon in 2012. Her main interest is understanding how our brain processes faces and facial cues such as gaze and emotion. She uses behavioural and electrophysiological methods to investigated how we develop our abilities to extract relevant information from faces in typical and atypical development.

Emmanuel Ducrocq

Emmanuel Ducrocq is a post-doctoral researcher at Birkbeck College. He has completed his PhD in Psychology at Birkbeck College in 2018 following the completion of a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience at Birkbeck in 2015. Using Eye tracking and electrophysiological methods his PhD research explored the impact of competitive pressure on attention control and motor performance in sporting contexts. He now employs behavioural and electrophysiological methods to investigate face-processing strategies in typically developing children and adults.

Inspired by

Annette Karmiloff-Smith

Annette Karmiloff-Smith was a Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck. She was an inspiration to us all and published many influential academic papers and books about Williams syndrome including, most recently, ‘Neurodevelopmental Disorders Across the Lifespan: A Neuroconstructivist Approach’ with Emily Farran.