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Professor Katherine Shelton BSc PhD Cardiff

Professor Katherine Shelton

BSc PhD Cardiff


School of Psychology

+44(0)29 2087 6093
3.02, Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT

Research summary

My research is in the area of developmental psychology with a focus on the emergence and maintenance of developmental psychopathology  in social contexts during childhood and adolescence.  I am particularly interested in the  relationship between aspects of family functioning and children’s psychological  well-being.

Current projects include the Wales Adoption Study which focuses on  the experiences and support needs of families in the first year following an adoptive placement. I am also interested in the implications of experiences of  homelessness for young people’s mental health and well-being. To that end, I am  working in partnership with Llamau to study the support needs of young people  with experiences of homelessness.

More information about each of these projects can be found by following these links:

Teaching summary

I co-teach an undergraduate Level 5 module, 'Developmental Psychology’ and lead a Level 6 module, 'Developmental Psychopathology in Childhood and Adolescence’.

At postgraduate level, I teach on the Masters (MSc) in Children's Psychological Disorders as well as supervising dissertation students. I also teach on the postgraduate research design and statistics course.

I am the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity contact for the School of Psychology and the EDI Academic Lead for the Wellcome Trust ISSF scheme led by Professor Kim Graham.

Undergraduate education

1999: Bachelor of Science, University of Wales, Cardiff. First Class   Honours.

Postgraduate education

2003: Doctor of Philosophy, Psychology. Cardiff University.

2011: Postgraduate  Certificate in Undergraduate Teaching and Learning. Higher Education Academy.


2017 - present: Reader, School of  Psychology, Cardiff University.

2009 - 2016: Lecturer; Senior Lecturer. School  of Psychology, Cardiff University.

2007 - 2008: Research and Teaching Fellow. School of Psychology, Cardiff   University.

2004 - 2006: Research Psychologist, Department of Psychological Medicine,   School of Medicine, Cardiff University.

2003 - 2004: ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Psychology, Cardiff   University.

1998 - 1999: Research Assistant, City University, London.

1997 - 1998: Research Assistant, School of Psychology, Cardiff   University.

Honours and awards

Awards/external committee

2018: Knowledge Transfer Partnership with St. David’s Children Society (2017-2020).

  • Winner of the Institute for Collaborative Working (ICW) award in the category of Innovation. The winner was announced at a ceremony at the House of Lords on the 13th December 2018.
  • Highly commended finalist for the GO Wales Social and Community Benefit award (November 8th 2018).

2015:  Awarded the Research Council UK Best of the Best KTP 2015 – Societal Benefit

2015: Cardiff University Innovation and Impact Awards Competition Social Innovation Award.

2012: Cardiff University Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP): summer bursary for an undergraduate research placement.

2012: Cardiff University Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP): summer bursary for an undergraduate research placement.

2005: Travel Fellowship, Behavior Genetics Association.

2003: Postdoctoral Fellowship, Economic and Social Research Council.

2001: Charles Cole Travelling Scholarship, Cardiff University for a research   visit to University California, Davis.

1999: Stuart Dimond memorial prize for best final year undergraduate research   project, Cardiff University.

Professional memberships

2016 - present: Coram BAAF Research Advisory Group

2015 - present: National Adoption Service Advisory Group.

Speaking engagements

10/04/18.  'The influence of adoption on sibling relationships: experiences and support needs of newly formed adoptive families'. CoramBAAF Conference. Leeds

28/03/19. 'The Wales Adoption Cohort Study: Studying parent-child and sibling relationships across time' Centre for Adoption Support and University of Chester.

19/09/18. 'The influence of adoption on sibling relationships'. Independent Reviewing Officers Conference, AFA Cymru.

20/09/18.  Beyond together or apart: Brothers and sisters are for life. CoramBAAF Conference. London

Committees and reviewing

Editorial Board, Journal of Family Psychology.

Grant reviewer, ESRC.

We are currently unable to retrieve the list of publications. Visit our institutional repository.

Research topics and related papers

My research is primarilly concerned with identifying and understanding the psychological and social needs of vulnerable children and young people, particularly those who experience social exclusion. The contribution of my work in recent years has been twofold: (1) to highlight the high level of mental health problems among young people with experience of homelessness and (2) to shed light on the challenges facing statutory providers responsible for supporting children adopted from care. To this end, I am leading the first national study of adoption in Wales which aims to directly inform policy and practice regarding the support needs of families and children.


Forrester, D,. Ford, D., Robling, M., Rees, A., Wilkins, D., & Shelton, K.H. (2020-2023). Children's Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) Partnership. Health and Care Research Wales. £2.45M.

Shelton, K.H. & Merchant, C. (2019). Adopting Together:  An individualised recruitment and therapeutic early intervention support strategy for priority children. Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Award.

Shelton, K.H. (2018-2019). The Association between Early Trauma and Psychological Well-Being: A Prospective, Longitudinal Study of Children Adopted from Care. The Waterloo Foundation.

Shelton, K.H. (2018-2019). The Wales Adoption Cohort Study. Welsh Government.

Shelton, K.H. (2018-2020). Evaluation of a Psychologically Informed Environment. Llamau.

Shelton, K.H. Lynch, J., & Waters, C. (2017-2019). Knowledge Transfer Partnership with St. David's Children Society to implement post-adoption support. Innovate UK. £171,655.

Arribas-Ayllon, M. Clarke, A. & Shelton, K.H. (2017). Genome testing in adoption: from new uncertainties to family-formation. Wellcome Trust. £30,564.

Shelton, K.H., Jones, C., & Langley, K. (2016). Autism spectrum disorder and experience of homelessness: A creative arts project. Arts Council of Wales. £3225.

Shelton,  K.H., Holland. S., Ottaway, H., & Doughty, J., (2013 with funding starting  October 2014 to September 2016). Understanding the elements of early  placement success for adopted children and their families. National Institute  for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR). £198,722.

Rice, F., Frederickson, N., Shelton, K. H., McManus, C. (2011-2013). Examining pathways linking
psychological adjustment and academic attainment across the transition to secondary school. Nuffield
Foundation. £111,474. [link]

van den Bree, M.B.M., Shelton, K. H., Heron, J., Munafo, M., Hickman, M &   Maughan, B. (2011-2013).  Peer group influences on the relationship between   depressive symptoms and alcohol misuse in adolescence. European Research   Advisory Board. €94,486.

Shelton, K.H. & van den Bree M.B.M. (2010 - 2013). Knowledge Transfer   Partnership: £129,456. The needs of young people with homelessness   experiences.

Shelton, K.H.  (2003-4). Marital conflict, children’s coping strategies and   their psychological adjustment: A process-oriented analysis. Economic and Social   Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship. £27,117.

Postgraduate research interests

I am interested in supervising research projects in the area of developmental   psychology with a particular focus on the family as a context for understanding   child and adolescent well-being.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information  regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application.

Current students

Andrew Brown: ESRC Type 2 studentship. The academic attainment of adopted children.

May 2019 Andrew's work has been cited in the House of Lords as part of a debate about the educational attainment of adopted children

Jennifer Blackmore: Wales School for Social Care Research. Securing permanence for children placed for adoption: Explaining pre-placement and pre-Adoption Order breakdown, its consequences and the contrast with successful matching.

Veronika Brannovic: Adverse childhood experiences and the restorative role of the natural environments.

Rachel Draper: ESRC 1+3 studentship.

Past projects

Previous students

Rebecca Anthony: (2015-2019) 1+3 studentship: Understanding the elements of early placement success for adopted children and their families. Rebecca was awarded the Haydyn Ellis prize in July 2019 for the best doctoral thesis.

Charlotte Fry: (2015-2018) ESRC Type 2 studentship: Cognitive function among young people with experiences of homelessness.

Alegra Hummel  (2011-2013). Doctoral dissertation: Psychological aspects of pubertal maturation, family  functioning and substance use in adolescence.

Kate Hodgson  (2011-2013). Doctoral dissertation: An investigation of characteristics of  young  people with experiences of  homelessness.

Sasha Walters. (2007 - 2011). Doctoral  dissertation: 'Family influences on children's transition from primary to secondary  school.’

Eugenia Baibazarova (2007 - 2011).  Doctoral dissertation: 'Maternal influences on early child emotional  development.’

Miss Eleanor Walsh (2008-2009). Masters in Research Methods for the  Social Sciences. Awarded with Distinction.

External profiles