Children enjoying the pool with family at Ravelin Sport Centre.

Understanding the diversity of human development

Improving education and diversity policy and practice

We're interested in the role that social interactions play in all aspects of human development. Our research — informed by our community and academic collaborations  aims to support families, children and professionals in education, employment and care environments. 

Research  |  Collaborations  |  Staff  |  Resources


Group of people talking


Our research focuses on social and physical interactions in naturalistic settings.

Children playing with toy bricks


We are interested in developmental changes, across the life span and across cultures.

Children looking at a book


We focus on inclusivity, neurodiversity, and linguistic and cultural variability.

Participate in our research

We are always seeking community partners and volunteers to take part in our research. 

If you would like to be involved, please email

You can also follow us on Twitter @UoP_CIDD


Taking an interactionist approach to development and diversity

The study of the process of development and its variability lies at the heart of our research. We use a range of methodological approaches and techniques that emphasise the role of social interaction and everyday experiences in development, rather than focusing on individuals alone.

We study the process of development from early infancy through adolescence to older age groups. We are also interested in neurodivergent participants, people with intellectual disabilities and other conditions; their relationships with other people and also with the physical world.

We involve community members or community-based organisations in our research; whether this is to co-develop research questions, seeking their advice on the design and protocols for our studies, or drafting actions resulting from our research. One outcome of these collaborations has been the creation of the Autism Centre for Research on Employment.

Our research centre is committed to address social problems, enhance the local and wider community, and improve educational and diversity policy and practice. We achieve this by:

  • Using a community-based research approach to ensure the views of the community are reflected at all stages in the research process
  • Creating opportunities to disseminate, and discuss, research findings within community settings
  • Developing sensitive and meaningful research paradigms and methods capture heterogeneity in development across the life-span 
  • Co-developing resources to meet the needs of educational and diverse communities
  • Facilitating collaborative partnerships between scientists and community organisations 
  • Shifting psychological practices that reproduce stigma and limit our understanding of the capabilities of neurodiverse populations
  • Implementing best practices in the workplace and education


Beatriz Lopez Portrait

Dr Beatriz Lopez

Associate Professor in Developmental Psychology

Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

Read more
Iris Eleftheria Nomikou Portrait

Dr Iris Nomikou

Senior Lecturer

Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

Read more

Postgraduate students

Olivia Barber

Assessing the efficacy of dogs in Animal Assisted Therapy and the mechanisms of action across a range of therapeutic settings.
Supervisors: Dr Leanne Proops, Dr Eszter Somogyi, Dr Anne McBride (Southampton University). ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), October 2019 – September 2022.

Leanne Chrisostomou

Discovering Hidden Abilities (DHA): Building Assessment Tools for Children with Atypical Development. 
Supervisors: Dr Iris Nomikou, Dr Alessandra Fasulo and Dr Beatriz López. ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), October 2018 – March 2023. 

Katie Crompton

How does mindfulness affect classroom life?
Supervisors: Dr Eszter Somogyi, Dr Alessandra Fasulo, Dr Daphne Kaklamanou. ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), March 2019 – March 2023.

Elinor Lim

Supporting autistic students through university using a collaborative participatory research approach. 
Supervisors: Dr Emine Gurbuz, Dr Steven Kapp and Dr Beatriz López. ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), October 2022 – March 2026.

Holly Radford

It takes two to tango: Understanding autistic people’s mental states and facial expressions. 
Supervisors: Dr Beatriz López, Dr Steven Kapp and Professor Bridget Waller (Nottingham Trent University). ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), October 2019 – March 2027. 


We collaborate with several autism community-research groups. These collaborations are further supported by a thriving research culture, resulting from academic collaborative networks. Our research collaborations have enabled us to secure funding to advance developmental and diversity theory and improve educational practice and outcomes for children and neurodiverse populations.

Our community collaborations

Our academic collaborative networks


Members of our team have developed a series of resources which draw directly from our research. From online toolkits, lay summaries of autism research, or guidelines on how to include autistic people in the research process.

Are you preparing for work or already working? This online toolkit aims to introduce you to the world of employment.

Autism and Employment Toolkit

Thinking of going to university? This toolkit is based on what autistic students said they would have liked to know.

Autism at University Toolkit

Looking for work or at work? Our free profiling assessment services were designed to help you and your employer.

Autism employment profiling services

Find here a series of research monographs, written in lay terms, about community-relevant topics.

Autism research lay monographs

Find here an article by Dr Steven Kapp and academic collaborators on how to avoid ableist language in research publications.

Suggestions to avoid ableist language

Dr Steven Kapp, in collaboration with AASPIRE has prepared this helpful toolkit for autistic adults, carers and healthcare providers.

AASPIRE Healthcare Autism toolkit