Meet the Team
The TEDS Team
Meet the team behind TEDS and find out more about the research going on at TEDS.
Director of TEDS
Professor Robert Plomin
I have spent my career investigating the genetic and environmental origins of psychological traits. Since I started TEDS in the early 1990s, my focus has been on the role of nature and nurture on the development of cognition and behaviour problems in childhood and adolescence. I would like to thank all of the TEDS families for all of their hard work – we couldn’t do this revolutionary science without you. I look forward to working with the TEDS families for many years to come.
It is always wonderful to be able to talk about our TEDS research and to highlight the importance of genetics in development, especially in relation to education. I was recently interviewed for the prestigious BBC Radio 4 programme called The Life Scientific in which TEDS features prominently in the interview. Click here to listen to the 30-minute broadcast. I have also recently been interviewed for a 40-minute podcast with the Guardian’s Science Weekly, and the Time Education Supplement about my views on genetics in education.
Deputy director of TEDS
Professor Thalia Eley
I have always been fascinated by why people react so differently when faced with a stressful situation. What we are learning is that genetic factors influence how we respond to the world around us – be it positive events or more difficult times. I am also fascinated by how the way we respond to the environment is influenced by our parents – both the genes we inherit from them and from seeing how they respond to their own environment. With this in mind, it will be particularly interesting to start working with the children of the TEDS twins, a new study we have called CoTEDS. This will be a unique study (the first of its kind in the world) as currently no sample of twins that have been providing data for as long as TEDS twins, have then gone onto report on the development of their children.
TEDS Project Team
I have been working with TEDS since our participants were 7 years old. I was recruited to help with the large scale data collection that took place over the phone and I have taken part in many other phases of data collection over the years. My role now is to help plan studies and coordinate communication with our participants. We are fortunate to have so many active TEDS families helping with our research and it has been a great pleasure to follow the twins’ development into adulthood.
I joined TEDS at the end of 2001, during the age 7 twin telephone study, and have been the Data Manager since then. My work involves managing our admin database, where we record what happens to every family in each of our studies. I also handle all the data that are returned in questionnaires and web studies, documenting them and converting them to a suitable form for our researchers to analyse
Louise joined TEDS in August 1996 as a research support worker. She manages TEDS finances and many administrative aspects of the study including recruitment of staff, preparing grant applications and monitoring publications. Louise has extensive administrative, historical and procedural knowledge of the study.
CoTEDS Project Team
I am interested in how and why cognitive, emotional, and behavioural traits run in families. It has been shown that children resemble their parents not only physically but also in terms of their intelligence, their behaviour, and on many psychological traits. These parent-child associations may arise because parents have a direct impact on the way that their children develop. However, almost all traits are under some degree of genetic influence so these parent-child associations could also arise because children share 50% of their DNA. For example, intelligent parents may rear intelligent children because A) they adopt parenting practices that nurture the development of intelligence in their children, and/or B) intelligent children may inherit a genetic propensity towards intelligence from their intelligent parents. My research is aimed at disentangling the role of the rearing environment from that of genetic transmission, and one particularly powerful way to do this is through the study of twins who have children.
I am therefore very excited that over the next few years we will be setting up the Children of TEDS study (CoTEDS). In this new study we will track the development of the CoTEDS children just as the development of the TEDS twins has been tracked. This time however, there will be an added focus on the role of the parent in child development. This will be the first study of it’s kind, where a sample of twins and their children have both been assessed and their development followed from an early age. This will provide us with a completely unique and powerful research resource. Using data from CoTEDS we will be able to address some age-old questions about the role of the parent in child development.
I gained my BSc in Neuroscience from the University of Manchester in 2015. I joined the TEDS team shortly after as a Research Assistant, helping to set up and run the new study - Children of TEDS (CoTEDS). I am interested in using data from CoTEDS to research the mechanisms underlying intergenerational transmission of mental health disorders. I am planning to start my PhD later this year with the TEDS/CoTEDS team.
Current PhD Students
After studying psychology as an undergraduate and working as a research assistant, I started a PhD with TEDS. The main focus of my research is in how different abilities interrelate, and the extent to which they are influenced by the same or different genes, which is important for understanding how abilities and disabilities develop. I am also interested in web development; specifically in how the web can be used to collect research data efficiently, and to keep participants engaged.
GCSE results are influenced by genes
Cognitive differences and disabilities have important consequences, including health, educational and other life outcomes. For example, this paper suggests that grades achieved at the end of compulsory education in the UK (GCSEs) are substantially heritable - that is, the differences between people's grades are strongly influenced by the genetic differences between them.
Shakeshaft, N. G., Trzaskowski, M., McMillan, A., Rimfeld, K., Krapohl, E., Haworth, C. M. A., Dale, P. S. & Plomin, R. (2013). Strong genetic influence on a UK nationwide test of educational achievement at the end of compulsory education at age 16. PLoS ONE, 8, e80341. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080341
After gaining a BSc in Psychology and MSc in Developmental Psychology from Birkbeck University, I joined the TEDS team as a PhD student. The primary aim of my research is to explore the role of the gene-environment interplay in educational achievement. I am also interested in early predictors of educational achievement, as well as life outcomes associated with it, such as the quality of life and health outcomes. I am particularly excited that in TEDS we can study educational achievement and related factors from early childhood to emerging adulthood.
After studying developmental neuroscience at University College London and Yale University, I started a PhD with TEDS. From finding consistent evidence for gene-environment correlation we know that individuals’ exposure to and engagement with environments is not random, but partially dependent on genetic propensities. I am interested in bringing together quantitative and molecular genetic approaches to find out more about the mechanisms that drive gene-environment correlation during development.
There is increasing evidence that many different cognitive, non-cognitive and physical traits share a common genetic architecture. I am particularly interested in individual differences in health, health behaviours, personality, educational achievement and intelligence. Therefore, I would like to study the influence of genetic and environmental effects, investigate relationships between these traits and what causes them, as well as identify early predictors. I am interested in using a broad range of methods to answer my research questions, including the twin method as well as DNA based methods.
Ziada completed her BSc (Hons) in Behavioural Neuroscience in Montreal, Canada. After that she moved to King’s College London where she completed an MSc in Mental Health Studies. During her MSc, Ziada was first introduced to the notion of personalised medicine which laid the foundation for her interest in personalised education. To pursue these interests, Ziada began a PhD studying the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) sample under the supervision of Professor Robert Plomin. Her current research is focused on individual differences in media use and the relation between these differences and social and psychological outcomes in early adulthood. She is also interested in the extent to which genes and environments influence social mobility and the role of general intelligence in social status change between generations. Ziada is particularly excited about the new stage of TEDS as the twins enter ‘emerging adulthood’. This unique developmental period offers an unprecedented opportunity for her to explore the genetic and environmental antecedents of psychosocial adjustment over the course of her studies.
After gaining my MSc in the Science of Psychology, Genetics and Education from Goldsmiths, University of London, I joined the TEDS team as a research assistant before starting a PhD with TEDS. I am interested in the early predictors of later language problems and how these associations are influenced by our genes and environments. I am also very involved in science communication activities and have set up a series of video interviews with researchers, designs and write part of the annual TEDS newsletter and manage the TEDS Facebook account.
Past TEDS PhD students
- Dr Maciek Trzaskowski
- Dr Claire Haworth
- Dr Angelica Ronald
- Dr Ken Hanscombe
- Dr Emma Meaburn
- Dr Bonny Oliver
- Dr Rosalind Arden
- Professor Essi Viding
- Dr Oliver Davis
- Dr Corina Greven
- Professor Yulia Kovas
- Dr Kathryn Asbury
- Dr Emma Hayiou-Thomas