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

Sylvia Johnson-Hunter

sylvia-frances-johnson-hunter-profile-2Sylvia completed her BA and Honours in Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington in 2021. Sylvia is a full-time Research Assistant who works on The GRACIA Project and The GRACI Project research programs. Her work involves interviewing children who participate in our studies, processing data and contributing to publishing this work.

Sylvia can be contacted at

Postgraduate Students

Georgia Park

Georgia is completing her MSc by Thesis, in Forensic Psychology. Her thesis is looking to evaluate current forensic interviewing practice of the Specialist Child Witness Interviewers across both the NZ Police and Oranga Tamariki.

Kelly Shearer

Kelly is completing her MSc by thesis in Forensic Psychology and her Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology. Kelly’s thesis is looking at children abilities to answer questions in forensic interviews, with a particular focus on question content and the kinds of information children provide during these interviews.

Emily Martin

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

Tui Davies: “You can Point to This Card”: Trialing the use of Visual Aids in Teaching Children to use Ground Rules in Forensic Interviewing. 

Emma Weir: How do jurors evaluate memory evidence? An open ended approach to investigating beliefs about memory that jurors bring to the courtroom.

Alex Sutherland: “Lockdown was 100 months ago”: Children’s Ability to Recall Temporal Information.

Ashlee Curtis: Crayons in the Courtroom: Jurors’ beliefs about children’s drawings and their impact on child witness credibility. 

Christiana Hartley: I’ll show you what I witnessed. Children’s abilities to use non-anatomical dolls in forensic interviewing.

Kelly Lawrence: Ground rules in forensic interviews: Should we make practice more applied?

Hannah Kitchin: Does the way we teach children interview ground rules impact the number of details they provide?

Anica Bura: Drawing, Play-Dough, and Koosh Balls: The Use of Comfort Tools with Children in Forensic and Clinical Interviews. 

Helen Pierce: Perception versus reality: Investigating the impact of talkativeness on children’s credibility and reliability.

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

Sylvia Johnson-Hunter: Doing the ground work on ground rules: How do adults respond to unanswerable questions?

Preston Lyons: Inferences, Injustice, and Intellectual Disability: Mock jurors’ beliefs about child and adult witnesses with and without an intellectual disability. 

Miro Tidswell Groot: Laying the Groundwork: Does Performance in Ground Rule Training Predict Children’s Interview Responding?

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

Hannah Kitchin: Interview ground rules: The developmental trajectory of knowing when to say “I don’t know”.

Kelly Lawrence: What cognitive skills predict children’s use of ground rules?

Manuri Ranasinghe: Are children able to use and explain the ground rule “I don’t understand”? 

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 Heather Price, Thompson Rivers University, Canada

Prof Karen Salmon, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Prof Rachael Taylor, University of Otago, New Zealand

Prof Rachel Zajac, University of Otago, New Zealand