Carolien Rieffe appointed Honorary Professor at University College London
Carolien Rieffe is appointed an Honorary Professor at the prestigious UCL Institute of Education, University of London. Rieffe already holds a professorship, Social and Emotional Development, at Developmental Psychology, Leiden University. This new appointment strengthens the existing bond between Leiden University and UCL and provides unique opportunities for collaborative research projects.
Rieffe is appointed at this prestigious institute for a period of five years. In October, she visited the Institute of Education, giving a lecture and meeting several colleagues in academia, to explore opportunities for future collaboration. Although my appointment officially started on September 1st, you could say this visit marked the unofficial kick-off, Rieffe explains.
“This appointment is meant to be mutually beneficial, so it was good to exchange thoughts and ideas with some of the researchers at UCL. Through collaborating, we can strengthen each other’s expertise, but also study larger clinical samples in different settings. During my visit, I learned that the Centre for Research in Autism and Education at UCL had started a research project about autism in girls. Since autism is ten times more common in boys than in girls, most studies focus exclusively on boys. This means that as yet we have little knowledge of social and emotional functioning in girls with an autism spectrum disorder. Coincidentally, I recently concluded a research project in which a number of girls with autism participated, so now might be the right time to join forces for studying this ‘neglected’ group.”
Rieffe already has many ideas for shared projects. “Renowned researchers with a lot of expertise in their field work at UCL. I had the pleasure of working with some of them in the past, and I am looking forward to new collaborative projects.” One of these projects involves Professor Julie Dockrell, an internationally renowned expert on Specific Language Impairment. Julie is currently the only researcher who studies behavioural problems in these children. Most research revolves around their language and academic achievements, Rieffe explains.
Together with her PhD student Neeltje van den Bedem and the Royal Dutch Kentalis organization, Rieffe received funding to follow a group of children with SLI for three years. “Our goal is to study the social-emotional development of these children in depth and see how this relates to the development of psychopathology such as depression or aggression. We are very pleased that Julie Dockrell is involved in this project; her input is extremely valuable.”
Rieffe also has long-standing collaborations outside the UK. “I think it is important to work together with like-minded researchers from various countries and cultures. Working together will benefit the quality of research in general, and it means a more effective use of resources.” To that end, Rieffe is planning to involve not only researchers from UCL, but has also recently started a project which involves researchers from Portugal, Spain, and Italy.
“In this pan-European study we examine how adolescents spend their leisure time, what activities they do, how many friends they have. The aim is to find out how these activities are related to bullying during the teenage years. Bullying, both online and offline, is a big problem with often devastating consequences for both bully and victim. Unstructured leisure settings, especially, may be important for teenagers’ development towards greater independence, but may also be a risk factor for more bullying. We hope to gain new insights in the mechanisms underlying bullying in the near future.”