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Our team includes experts in neuroscience, psychology and education from Birkbeck, the UCL Institute of Education, and Learnus (a think tank which aims to bridge the gap between neuroscience research and the classroom).
Join our team!

We are recruiting a new research assistant to help carry out cognitive testing and brain imaging with a subset of children involved in the unlocke project.

Click here for more information, and to apply.

Project Lead

Denis Mareschal is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck University of London. He has over 25 years experience in studying learning in children and infants, and has extensive hands-on experience of working with children of all ages in schools and other environments.

Management Team

Derek Bell is Director of Learnus, having worked in schools and universities as a teacher, researcher and educational consultant, nationally and internationally. He was Chief Executive of the Association for Science Education (ASE) and Head of Education at the Wellcome Trust. He has a wide range of publications and is a research associate at UCL Institute of Education, London.

Dr Iroise Dumontheil is a Reader in Cognitive Neuroscience at Birkbeck. She studies the development of cognitive control and social cognition during childhood and adolescence, using behavioural and neuroimaging methods. Her role on UnLocke is to help develop the intervention, with a focus on reasoning and inhibitory control, and to lead the neuroimaging research component of the evaluation in the main trial.

Prof Emily Farran is a Professor of Cognitive Development at the UCL Institute of Education. Emily's primary research interests relate to cognitive development in both neurodevelopmental ‎disordered groups and in typically developing children, with a specific emphasis on visual and spatial cognition.

Sveta Mayer PhD, is a lecturer at UCL Institute of Education. Her interests are in evidence-based interventions designed by bridging understandings from neuroscience and education. She is working on the design of UnLocke learning activities and evaluating children’s progression in science and maths learning and reasoning.

Dr Kaśka Porayska-Pomsta is a Reader in Adaptive Technologies for Learning and an RCUK Academic Fellow at the UCL Institute of Education, UCL Knowledge Lab. Her research focuses on developing fully interactive technologies that are underpinned with Artificial Intelligence techniques, in particular real-time learner modelling. To UnLocke Kaśka brings her knowledge of the design and implementation of virtual learning software and of learner modelling, as well as her experience of working with teachers and learners on designing and appropriating technologies in real educational contexts. The UnLocke software is developed based on the SHARE-IT platform developed by Kaśka and her team on a previous project with the same name.

Professor Andrew Tolmie is a professor of Psychology and Human Development at the UCL Institute of Education, and deputy director of the Centre for Educational Neuroscience (CEN). He has longstanding interests in the development of children's conceptual representations and behavioural skills. Andrew's research primarily focuses on the growth of children's explicit knowledge, particularly in the pre-school and primary age range.

Professor Michael Thomas is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Birkbeck, and is the Director of the Centre for Educational Neuroscience. His research in educational neuroscience addresses several topics, including, how our current understanding of sensitive periods in brain development might influence syllabus design and education policy, and how fields such as genetics and methods of computational modelling may advance the field of educational neuroscience.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Hannah Wilkinson is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Birkbeck. She has extensive experience working with children in primary schools, both as a researcher and educator. Her research has primarily involved the development and evaluation of classroom-based interventions to improve behaviours for learning, including inhibitory control, in primary school pupils. Hannah is now applying this experience to the UnLocke project, developing the intervention and evaluative materials and will be providing training and support to participating schools.

Wayne Holmes is a post-doctoral researcher at the UCL Institute of Education, and a senior teaching associate at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol. He has extensive experience developing educational interventions and educational technologies.

Software Development

Doug Lapsley is a software and multimedia developer with 18 years industry experience. He has worked extensively in educational software development.


Candice Moore is a Project Administrator within the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development (CBCD) at Birkbeck. She has experience in university administration, and an interest in psychological research.

Cartoon images were created by Laura Strickland and can be found at MyCuteGraphics.com