Meet the team

Dr Cat Davies

My research looks at how children understand meaning beyond vocabulary and grammar. I investigate how children make choices about how to refer to objects, for example, do they say the spotty dog, the dog, or he to introduce a character in a story? Why does this differ from what adults do? I’m also interested in how children understand other people’s referring expressions. Do they first look at all objects in a scene before describing a specific object? How do they work out how much detail to provide in their referring expressions? Do they refer to things in a certain way for specific people, and expect specific people to use certain expressions? I’m also interested in children’s inferencing ability and how this can be improved during shared bookreading.

cecile-de-catProfessor Cecile De Cat

I study language development in monolingual and bilingual children, and seek to understand how it interacts with their cognitive development. Some of the questions I seek to address include:

  • From what age do children master the linguistic rules underlying the exchange of information? How does their cognitive development interact with their linguistic development in that respect?
  • How does the amount of bilingual experience of a child affect their proficiency in the language of schooling?
  • How do bilingual experience and socio-economic factors affect children’s cognitive development


Dr Hannah Nash

I am a developmental psychologist interested in the factors that affect how children learn to read, these include spoken language skills, working memory, sleep and whether a child has a neurodevelopmental disorder, such as a specific language impairment, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.  My current research includes the Paediatric Narcolepsy Project, a behavioural intervention for sleep problems in children with ADHD and a White Rose DTC ESRC Network (2015 – 2018) for understanding and enhancing reading and language skills in children for whom English is an additional language.

Rachael Staunton

Rachael graduated in BA (Hons) German and Linguistics in July 2015, and has since worked with adults with residual communication difficulties following a stroke. She is now working towards her MA by Research in Linguistics, investigating features of child-directed speech used with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Catherine Porter, Anna Richardson, Charissa Lim (Undergraduate Research Assistants 2016/17)img_0019

Catherine graduated in BA Linguistics and Phonetics in summer 2017. She focused on language processing modules such as language acquisition, psycholinguistics and experimental pragmatics, and has a special interest in the acquisition of gesture. Anna graduated from the same programme in 2017. Her main interests are in syntax, psycholinguistics and pragmatics. Charissa is a final year undergraduate studying for a BA in Childhood Studies. Her interests include cognitive development of young children, and the pedagogy and practices surrounding childhood education. The RA team worked in the LCDU throughout 2016/17 in collaboration with a team at Boston University on projects on adjective acquisition, and the relationship between child-directed speech and children’s own speech.