Katherine Ellis

Katherine Ellis

School of Psychology
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Title of PhD: Social Cognition in Genetic Syndromes

Supervisor: Chris Oliver (primary), Ian Apperly (secondary)

Katherine is a PhD student supervised by Chris Oliver. She is currently investigating social cognition and social behavior across various neurodevelopmental disorders.


BSc Psychology (University of Birmingham)


Katherine graduated in 2013 with a First Class Honors Degree in Psychology at the University of Birmingham. She completed her third year dissertation project with the Cerebra Centre investigating social anxiety and social motivation behaviours in Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. She continues to research within the Cerebra Centre through a three year funded PhD.


Currently I am investigating the developmental trajectory of social-cognitive skills, such as theory of mind, across neurodevelopmental disorders that have various distinct social behaviours. For example, whereas some neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. Rubenstein-Taybi syndrome) are considered to be very sociable, other syndromes (e.g. Cornelia de Lange and Fragile X syndrome) demonstrate social impairments. In turn, I wish to determine whether and how variations in social cognitive skills interact with different environments (i.e. social situations), leading to diverse social behavioural phenotypes and difficulties across these disorders.

Other activities

Since my undergraduate degree, I have and continue to volunteer with the Monday Night Club – a student-organised volunteering group in which adults with intellectual disability are able to socialise in a comfortable environment weekly. I have also recently begun learning British Sign Language, which I hope will facilitate interaction with individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and/or intellectual disability who struggle to communicate through verbalisation.