Principal Investigator

Deirdre Brown, PhD


Deirdre completed her BA, PhD, and Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology at the University of Otago under the supervision of Professor Margaret-Ellen Pipe. After completing her education in 2003, she took a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Foundation for Research Science and Technology, New Zealand, at Lancaster University in the UK. Upon returning to New Zealand, she worked as a clinical psychologist in the Children’s Outpatient  department at Dunedin Hospital. She joined Victoria University of Wellington in 2009, receiving a Teaching Excellence Award in 2016, and became an Associate Professor in 2019. 

You can view Deirdre’s staff profile on the Victoria University of Wellington website.

Read more about Deirdre and her research here.

Research Assistants

Danélle Walker

danelle picDanélle completed her MEdPsych at Victoria University of Wellington in 2017, and her PGDip in Child-Centered Practice and BA at the University of Otago. Danélle is our full-time Research Assistant, dedicated to the GRACI Project research program. She is the point-of-contact for queries from childcare centres and schools are involved in the project. Danélle work takes her into childcare centres and schools in the Wellington region to interview children participating in the GRACI Project studies.

Danélle can be contacted at

Helen Pierce


Helen is completed her MSc in Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington in 2019. She completed her PGDip in Psychology at Massey University and BSc at the University of Otago. Helen is a part-time Research Assistant who has worked on the MARCIE Project and the GRACI Project in the Applied Developmental Psychology Lab. Her work involves, visiting childcare centres and schools in the Wellington region to interview children participating in our research.

Helen can be contacted at

Postgraduate Students

Tui Shaw

TuiTui is a completing her MSc by thesis, in Psychology and her Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology. Her thesis examines the use of  visual aids and ground rules in forensic interviewing with children. Tui completed her Honours at VUW in 2017, where she examined the relationship between false-belief tracking and motor representations in adults.

Christiana Hartley

ChristianaChristiana is completing her MSc by thesis, in Psychology, and her Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology. Her thesis examines the use of body position dolls and children’s ability to communicate effectively with them during forensic interviewing. Christiana also completed an Honours project in the Applied Developmental Psychology Lab in 2018, where she                                    investigated the relationship between a false memory                                                    paradigm and an experienced event within the scope of the                                          MARCIE Project. 

Helen Pierce


Helen completed her MSc by thesis in 2019. Her research investigated whether children’s talkativeness in a memory interview, influences how creditable they are perceived to be as a witness. Helen also examined the relationship between children’s talkativeness and quality in memory interviews. 

Anica Bura

anica-bura-e1551407794727.jpgAnica completed her MSc thesis in 2019. Here, she examined the use of comfort tools in child witness and clinical interviews, specifically whether these tools assist children in offering more information about an emotional experience. Anica is in her final year of the Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology program.


Honours Students

Hannah Kitchin

Kelly Lawrence

Manuri Ranasinghe

Previous PhD Students

Lynley McLay  

Hands on learning: The influence of hand gestures on children’s recall of scientific information. 

Lynley completed her PhD in 2017. Her PhD examined the potential benefits of observing hand gestures when children are learning about scientific concepts.

Missy Wolfman

Understanding and addressing challenges faced by forensic interviewers in their work with children.

Missy completed her PhD in 2016. Her research examined different aspects of forensic interviewing with children in New Zealand.

Previous Masters Students

Alex Hill: Dolls, Diagrams and Drawings: Interviewers’ Perspectives on Visual Aids in Child Witness Interviews

Frances (Frankie) Gaston: Young people’s comprehension of the Rights Caution in New Zealand

Paula O’Connor: Mapping Memories: Do Sketchplans Help Young Adolescents Recall more Information about an Event?

Wendy Higgs: Using Images to Help Children Talk About Their Experiences

Rachel Barton: Using Photographs and Human Body Diagrams as Visual Aids to Help Children Talk About Bodily Touch

Helen Andreae: A Study Of Auti: A Socially Assistive Robotic Toy

Amy Lovegrove:  Social Desirability and Parental Reporting of Children’s Health-Related Behaviours

Previous Honours Students

Christiana Hartley: The Fuzziness of Children’s False Memories: Comparisons Between the DRM and a Health-Check Event.

Josie Sherriff: Are child eyewitnesses reliable? An investigation of school-aged children’s suggestibility and recall accuracy.

Emma Weir: Age related trends in child memory: Do children demonstrate similar reliability across two diverse memory paradigms?

Tasmin Jury: The effect of repeated interviews on the narrative coherence of children with intellectual disabilities.

Catherine Pihema: Doing the ground work on ground rules: The effects of an early interview, age and cognitive ability on children’s performance and use of ground rules.

Amanda Wallis: Impact of intellectual disability on children’s narrative coherence over repeated and delayed interviews.

Emily Miller: On a scale from 1 to really really mad: Children’s narratives and ratings of their anger.

Emma-Jayne Brown: 

Lauren Palmer: In your own words: Narrative quality in children with ADHD symptoms compared to typically developing children.

Sophie Beaumont: “Tell me everything you can remember”: Amount and accuracy of event memory – children with ADHD symptoms.

Sian McKennie: Is it all in the timing? Drawing and children’s recall of their experiences.

Rachel Barton: The ability of forensic interviewing strategies and protocols to elicit more complete and accurate statements from children.

Missy Wolfman: 

Lynley McLay: The effects of ADHD symptoms on children’s responses to suggestive questioning.  


Prof Charles Brainerd, Cornell University, USA

Dr Sonja Brubacher, Griffith University, Australia

Dr Clare-Ann Fortune, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Prof Maryanne Garry, University of Waikato, New Zealand

Prof Michael Lamb, Cambridge, UK

Prof Charlie Lewis, Lancaster University, UK

Prof Margaret-Ellen Pipe, CUNY, USA

Assoc Prof Karen Salmon, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Assoc Prof Rachael Taylor, University of Otago, New Zealand

Assoc Prof Rachel Zajac, University of Otago, New Zealand