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Venue: Birkbeck Clore Management Centre

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For FOUR nights in May/June, Birkbeck’s School of Science will host engaging and interactive evening events showcasing our three Science Departments - Biological Sciences, Earth & Planetary Sciences, and Psychological Sciences - and culminating in the return of the annual Rosalind Franklin lecture.

The annual Rosalind Franklin Lecture celebrates the life and work of one of Birkbeck's most distinguished and inspirational scientists, Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), who was a biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer and is perhaps best known as the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Each year, we invite a leading woman scientist to present her work to the College community and to the wider public.

This year's lecture will be delivered by Professor Francesca Happé, whose work has explored, amongst other topics, the nature of social understanding in neurotypical development and ‘mentalising’ difficulties in autism. Professor Happé is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Academy of Medical Sciences, past-President of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR; 2013-2015), and recipient of the British Psychological Society Spearman Medal and President’s Award, the Experimental Psychology Society Prize and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award, as well as a CBE for services to the study of autism.

 The talk will focus on Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum:

Autistic children and adults experience higher rates of most mental health conditions (e.g., anxiety, depression) than their non-autistic peers. I will report some of our recent and ongoing research on mental health on the autism spectrum, taking a lifespan approach and using different methodologies. New work on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in autistic adults suggests differences in processing may mean that autistic adults are traumatised by a wider range of experiences than is recognised in some diagnostic systems, and more prone to develop PTSD symptoms. I will explore some possible reasons why autistic people experience such high rates of mental health difficulties, with the hope that these can be addressed to improve quality of life for everyone on the autism spectrum.


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