Cerebra Women At The Forefront Of Research #IWD21

08 March 2021

To celebrate International Women’s Day we are catching up with some of the women who are at the forefront of our research programmes. The work that they do helps children with brain conditions and their families discover a better life together.

Cerebra Women At The Forefront Of Research #IWD21

08 March 2021

To celebrate International Women’s Day we are catching up with some of the women who are at the forefront of our research programmes. The work that they do helps children with brain conditions and their families discover a better life together.

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In this post we’re meeting Tracy Elliott who is driving forward our research and information work, Ana Aiello who is passionate about helping families to access their rights, Samantha Flynn who is inspired to improve the offering of services to support people with learning disabilities and their families and Liz Halstead who is investigating behavioural interventions and digital health applications for sleep.

Tracy Elliott – Head of Research and Information at Cerebra

Tracy Elliot

What are you currently working on?

A wide range of projects covering Cerebra’s full research and service portfolio. Of particular interest in 2021 will be some key developments linked to our sleep work, keep an eye on our social media and website for more details during 2021.

Why you do what you do?

I have a daughter who is autistic so have first-hand experience of the many challenges families face. I want to see a world where neurodiversity is respected and celebrated, where children with neurodevelopmental conditions get to fulfil their greatest potential without barriers to their complete participation in society.

What achievement are you most proud of?

There are many things I’m proud of within Cerebra, it is hard to pick things out. As this is about International Women’s Day, I am particularly proud of the fact that I have been able to support and promote other women to accomplish their career goals. The Cerebra Network for Neurodevelopmental Disorders is definitely something I’m proud to support alongside other Cerebra women who are undertaking their own PhD research and/or successfully leading many of Cerebra’s services.

What difference do you hope your research will make?

That Cerebra funded research will continue to make valuable contributions to understanding and supporting families and to a world where neurodiversity is celebrated.

Who inspires you?

Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg, because they are young women, who speak up for what they believe in and inspire other young women to do the same, if young people like these two become the world leaders of the future then the future is bright.

Dr Ana Laura Aiello – Cerebra Legal Entitlements and Problem Solving Project

Dr Ana Aiello

What are you currently working on?

Alongside Professor Luke Clements, I am working on the Cerebra Legal Entitlements and Problem-Solving (LEaP) Project. Our goal is to empower families with disabled children to access their statutory entitlements to health, social care and education support.

Why you do what you do?

I have a disabled sister and I believe in research that contributes to making it possible for people to overcome barriers and be able to take actual ownership of their rights.

What achievement are you most proud of?

We have helped many families of disabled children to have ‘hassle-free’ access to the support they need – when they need it.

What difference do you hope your research will make?

We hope that our research will continue to touch real people’s lives. We hope to keep on achieving the impact that matters: That disabled children, and their families, can use the law and achieve social justice.

Who inspires you?

My Mum and all the Mums of disabled children.

Dr Samantha Flynn – Family research at Warwick University

Samantha Flynn

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a few different research projects involving people with learning disabilities and their families. The main projects I am involved in are studies about an online reading programme for primary school children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) in special schools; services for children with learning disabilities and behaviours that challenge; the experiences of adults with learning disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic; co-developing a group programme for family carers of children with learning disabilities that focusses on positive family relationships.

Why you do what you do?

I do what I do because I love it. I found my love for research slightly by accident and haven’t looked back since!

What achievement are you most proud of?

Being awarded a large amount of external funding from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to deliver the first EEF funded Randomised Controlled Trial in special schools. This is a ground-breaking research project that I am co-leading with my colleague, Dr Louise Denne.

What difference do you hope your research will make?

I hope that, through working collaboratively with people with learning disabilities, their family carers and other researchers, the research that we do can help to improve the offering of services to support people with learning disabilities and their families.

Who inspires you?

My 15-month-old daughter. I’ve learned a lot from the way she experiences the world, especially how she recovers from disappointment. Although, I’m not sure that running out of bananas is quite the same as being told that an application for research funding was unsuccessful!

Dr Liz Halstead

Dr liz halstead

What are you currently working on?

I am working on behavioural interventions and digital health applications for sleep and mental health in neurodevelopmental conditions and their families.

Why you do what you do?

I really enjoy developing research projects, I like to find solutions to problems, and be creative in the process.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I think that is still achieving my PhD.

What difference do you hope your research will make?

I hope that my research will be of benefit to individuals and families who are experiencing difficulties with sleep and all the associated problems when sleep issues arise.

Who inspires you?

At the moment, I have seen a lot of strength and resilience in students, colleagues and individuals we work with in our research projects, despite the impact that covid-19 is having on mental and physical health. People are fighting their own individual battles everyday, and keep going, and I find that inspirational.

You can follow our week-long celebration through our social media channels linked in our footer.

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In celebration of International Women’s Day and this world-leading research, you can make a donation to help improve the lives of a children with rare and complex needs and their families.

Your support will give us a better understanding of the challenges faced by these children and help us address these challenges to improve their quality of life.

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