Professor Joanne Williams

Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology

  • Centre for Applied Developmental Psychology
  • Children, Adolescents and Animals Research (CAAR)

Contact details



Room 2.4, Doorway 6, Medical Quad, Teviot Place

Post code


I am an applied developmental psychologist with research interests in child and adolescent health and mental health, the development of health concepts,  and children’s interactions with animals.

My career in Edinburgh began in 1993 as a post-doctoral research fellow examining psychological factors associated with child and adolescent injuries. In 1996, I took a two-year lectureship in Psychology, and from 1998 to 2012 I was Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Psychology, in Moray House School of Education.

Since 2012 I have been Senior Lecturer/Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology  in Clinical and Health Psychology.  I coordinate Children, Adolescents and Animals Research (caar), and I am Director of the Centre for Applied Developmental Psychology (CADP). I  contribute developmental psychology teaching on a range of postgraduate programmes including the MSc Psychology of Mental Health (Conversion).

I am a Board member for the International Society for Anthrozoology and will be leading the organising committee for ISAZ 2023, which will be in Edinburgh.

Postgraduate teaching

  • Developmental Psychology and Developmental Psychopathology
  • PhD and MSc research supervision

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I am always interested to hear from students wishing to pursue research degrees. I am particularly interested to work with students on the role of animals in children’s development and mental health, animal-assisted therapies for children and adolescents, and psychological factors in child and adolescent cruelty to animals.  Please also contact me if you wish to research children’s understanding of mental health/illness or evaluate psycho-education interventions. Below I have listed my students along with the themes of their PhDs.

Current PhD students supervised

Amber Ramos (Human-animal interaction with marine mammals)

Hasan Huseyin Ates (Eating disorders, disordered eating and neurodivergence) 

Unaiza Iqbal (Pets and vulnerable children, submitted)

Laura Wauthier (Evaluation of Scottish SPCA 'Animal Guardians' programme, submitted)

Rowena Piers (Digital mental health interventions for adolescents)

Peilin (Ruby) Lin (Gardening and mental health in Chinese older adults)

Xiaoshan (Sylph) Yin (Pet effects in Chinese adolescents and emerging adults)

Hamdulla Tunc (Values and mental health in adolescents)

Isobel Voysey (Robotic animal for childhood cruelty prevention)

Liron Blajwajs (Joint hypermobility in adolescent dancers)

Rong Ding (Pet dogs in China)

Katie Baynham (Adolescent Mental Health and pets)

Suzanne Lawrie (Evaluation of RSPCA 'Breaking the Chain' Intervention)

Jingni Ma (Nature-based interventions for mental health, submitted and passed viva)

Past PhD students supervised

Dr Lynne Binnie

Dr Lesley Smith

Dr Diana Gossrau

Dr Katherine Myant

Dr Ai Keow Lim

Dr Monica Odinko

Dr Lynsey Burke

Dr Dia (Daisy) Qian

Dr Jennifer van Bekkum

Dr Julie Moote

Dr Jia (Ava) Guo

Dr Elpida Pavlidou

Dr Carol Thompson

Dr Nikki Georgakakou-Koustonikuo

Dr Susannah Johnston

Dr Siti Norhedayah Abdul Latif

Dr Kiyoshi Nasir Bhuiyan

Dr Loukia Bololia

Dr Roxanne Hawkins

Dr Ho Nam (Amy) Cheung




Research summary

Research Interests

  • Child and adolescent health and mental health
  • Children’s understandings of mind, body and mental health
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Children’s and adolescents’ interactions with animals

Research Centre

Research Themes

Knowledge exchange

I have won a series of research impact awards, including: 

ESRC Impact Accelerator Award: Breaking the cycle of cruelty and harm: Promoting positive interactions between children and animals through impactful research


Affiliated research centres

Research activities

View all 13 activities on Research Explorer

View all 100 publications on Research Explorer