Skip to main content
LOGO: Queen's University Belfast
Youth Development Study

The Team

The Team

Principal Investigator (Acting): Dr Oliver Perra

Dr. Oliver Perra is a research statistician and the acting Principal Investigator working on the Youth Development Study. His research interests are in the study of heterogeneity in developmental trajectories and multivariate approaches applied to the analysis of longitudinal data. He has a background in developmental psychology and has published in the area of social-cognitive development of typically-developing children and infants, as well as the area of social-cognitive abilities of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Oliver Perra’s studies have been funded by grants from the ESRC and the Italian Research Council (CNR). He has joined the ICCR in October 2009.

Research Assistant: Claire McCartan

Claire graduated with a BA (Hons) in Politics from the University of Leeds in 1994 before joining the Institute of Child Care Research in 2003 and is currently Research Assistant on the Belfast Youth Development Study (BYDS).  

 "My background is working with young people at post-primary level.  Before joining QUB in 2003, I was involved in careers and business education for a non-departmental public body and was a member of the CCEA Curriculum and Assessment Committee.  During 2003-2006, I worked as Research Assistant on the Out of the Box project, a two and half year longitudinal study looking at Alternative Education Provision in Northern Ireland.  This project, completed in March 2006, involved the training and support of a team of peer researchers.  I’m interested in youth transitions and particularly those who may be at risk of social exclusion.  I am also interested in participatory research methods with young people."

Dr Mark McCann: Research Statistician

Dr. Mark McCann is a Statistician in the Institute of Child Care Research who is also working as part of the Improving Children’s Lives Initiative. He started working in the ICCR in the Autumn of 2009. Mark’s background is in health research, epidemiology and longitudinal data analysis. His current research interests include mental health, multilevel modelling and the analysis of longitudinal data, and using routine data sources for research.

Research Assistant: Dr Aisling McLaughlin

Dr Aisling McLaughlin (BSc, MSc, PhD) joined ICCR in October 2009 and is currently working on the Belfast Youth Development Study (BYDS). Aisling has a background in psychology and health promotion and her PhD study examined the influence of the family and peers on adolescent drug use in Northern Ireland. Aisling has worked on a range of research projects since 2003 at QUB, University of Ulster & the NCB including an RCT evaluation of a parenting programme; an RCT evaluation of a breastfeeding intervention; evaluation of a drug intervention delivered to prisoners; experiences and perceptions of maternity services; eating attitudes among young people; mental health among unemployed men and staff perceptions of residential child care. Aisling’s research interests include adolescent drug use, families & parenting, child development, body image, mixed methods designs and participatory research methods.

Principal Investigator: Dr Patrick McCrystal

Dr Patrick McCrystal (ILTM, BSc (Hons), MSc, MSSc, PhD), Senior Research Fellow, died suddenly in April 2010, just before his 45th birthday. He had been connected with the YDS and adolescent drug and alcohol research for over 10 years and established a remarkable reputation, based on his prolific publication rate, his constant radio and TV appearances, and his indomitable, generous spirit. The loss of his knowledge, commitment and the contribution he has made to the field of adolescent drug research is considerable; the loss to his family and colleagues at Queen’s, is immeasurable.

His research interests were in adolescent drug use, particularly in the area of vulnerable children and young people, and the association with the risk of exclusion from mainstream education and society more generally. These are areas in which he published widely, lectured, and provided research methods training to social work practitioners. Previous work included investigating the impact of new child care legislation to Northern Ireland, the value of applied research to child care practice, and evaluation of social and health education programmes to young people.