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Gender Development Research Centre

Prof Melissa Hines
Professor of Psychology, Director of Graduate Education, and Fellow at Churchill College
Research focus: Hormonal influences on human neural and behavioural development across the lifespan, and interactions between hormones and experience in shaping behaviour. Specific questions being addressed in the lab include how hormone levels during foetal development influence children’s sex-typed toy, playmate and activity preferences; whether children’s cognitive understanding of gender mediates hormonal influences on behavior; how to optimise psychological well being in individuals exposed to atypical hormone environments prenatally, because they have disorders of sex development (DSD).
Dr Ajay Thankamony
Consultant Paediatrician in Endocrinology & Diabetes, Addenbrooke’s Hospital

Research focus: role of growth hormone and Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 in metabolism; determinants of response to growth hormone treatment in children; markers of prenatal androgen action; prenatal exposure to endocrine disruptors and fetal testicular function; prenatal androgen exposure and behaviour.

Dr Debra Spencer
Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer
Research focus: Current research interests include studying how individual and family factors, together with factors related to the wider social environment, influence the use of physically aggressive behaviour in children; developing effective research designs for studying how prenatal influences, e.g., gonadal hormones, interact with postnatal experience to shape brain development and behaviour; and optimizing psychological well being in individuals exposed prenatally to atypical hormone environments. I am also currently managing the Cambridge Brain and Behaviour Study (CamBABS), a five-year project designed to assess sex/gender differences in brain structure and behaviour.

Marcia Collaer

Prof Marcia Collaer
Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychology and Overseas Fellow at Churchill College for 2018-19.  Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Affiliate at Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, USA

Research focus: Understanding sex and individual differences in behaviour and cognition, particularly with regard to visuospatial abilities.  Topics of interest include the reasons why and how men and women, or individuals, perform differently on spatial tasks, considering potential factors such as hormonal influences, attentional differences, strategies, and social influences, such as stereotypes.

Dr Vickie Pasterski
Affiliated Lecturer
0207 467 8325
Research focus: Pre/perinatal hormone influences on later gender-related behaviour and gender identity; surgical outcomes and psychosexual functioning in disorders of sex development; parental experience of receiving pre- versus post-natal diagnosis of a disorder of sex development; evolution of non-binary gender identities and overlap between autistic traits and gender-related dysphoria. 
Dr Miha Constantinescu
Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Psychology
Research focus: Cognitive development in early infancy and gender development. Currently, I am trying to understand why certain cognitive traits show sex differences early in life which then tend to remain stable despite changes in social attitudes. In my PhD and in recent published work, I examined some of the underlying causes of sex differences in mental rotation, focusing on hormonal and parental contributions to infants' mental rotation abilities.

Tim Kung

Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Psychology
Research focus: Organising effects of early androgen exposure on gender-related psychopathology; antecedents, correlates, and sequels of childhood gender typicality; well-being of sexual orientation minorities, transgender people, and individuals with intersex conditions; and gender similarities and differences.

Dr Rieko Tadokoro Cuccaro

Research assistant
Working in the Department of Paediatrics at CUH Addenbrooke's Hospital on the Cambridge Brain and Behaviour Study (CamBABS), assisting with patient recruitment.
Ellen Robertson
PhD candidate
Research focus: In rural, northern Albania there remains a highly respected tradition whereby women can live as men. The original purpose of this custom was so that these “sworn virgins” could become the leader and inheritor of their family in the absence of male relatives, since strict traditional gender norms would not allow a typical woman to take on these roles. These sworn virgins adopt masculine dress, manner, roles, and status, while swearing to never marry or have children. Seeing as sworn virgins do not undergo any physical changes when they begin to live as men, their life experiences provide an opportunity to better understand the effects of socialisation and identity on gendered behaviour. In my research, I conduct interviews and surveys with these sworn virgins and other members of their community in order to investigate socio-cognitive aspects of gender. In this process I draw on perspectives such as social role theory, essentialist beliefs theory, and system justification theory.
Karly Drabot
PhD student
Marta Beneda
PhD candidate
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Jac Davis
PhD student
Research focus: Cross-cultural experimental psychology, mechanisms of gender development, complex and dynamic systems in child development, meta-analysis and research synthesis methods.
Beth Stevens
Study Co-ordinator
Co-ordinating and scheduling participants for the CamBABS study – for more information and to register your interest, click here.