Prof Joan Simons, Co-Director

Joan Simons is Professor of Health Studies, Head of School for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care and Co-Director of the research centre CCW. Joan’s background is in adult and children’s nursing, health visiting, nurse lecturing, child research and education management. 
Her research interests focus on contributing to a positive childhood for all children. Joan has published in the field of children’s pain, focussing in particular on how the management of children’s pain in hospital can be delivered effectively, designing, with external colleagues, a framework to facilitate better management of children’s pain. Joan has authored an Open Learn course on Understanding research with children and young people, to promote the engagement of adult researchers with children and young people. 

Find out more about Joan and her research.

Prof Mimi Tatlow-Golden, Co-Director

Mimi is Co-Director of CCW. Through the lenses of topics such as food, digital media, school, self-concept, and fun, Mimi examines how children and young people’s experiences and subjectivities interact with, are constructed by, or resist, systems and expectations that the adult world devises. Examples are psychological researchers’ constructions of self-concept, or school ‘readiness’; or food marketers’ targeting of children. She also has a particular interest in digital marketing/ data ecosystems and their implications for children’s rights. Mimi collaborates globally with academics in food marketing, law, rights and public health, and with agencies such as the World Health Organization, Unicef and the European Commission. Her research and policy engagements have been funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Irish Heart Foundation, the European Commission, Safefood, the Irish Heart Foundation, the Nordic Council of Ministers and Health Canada among others.

Find out more about Mimi and her research


Dr Linda Plowright-Pepper

Linda is a Research Associate affiliated to the Centre for Children and Young People’s Health and Wellbeing. She is primarily a qualitative participatory researcher with a keen interest in researching children and young people’s understanding of physical activity and wellbeing.  Her doctoral study applied a new child-guided agentic participatory research methodology working with nine 7 to 11 years co-researchers. This revealed new insights into sources of fun and enjoyment in physical activity and a model for understandings children and young people’s diverse motivations for being active on a continuum from playfulness to mastery.  She continues to research children and young people’s experiences and motivations for being active and enjoys working on knowledge exchange projects. By partnering with practitioners in school and community sport and physical activity she hopes to enable young people’s voice in research to inform more effective practice.

Dr Victoria Cooper

Victoria Cooper is a Senior Lecturer at The OU and a former Co-Director of the CRC. She has published articles and book chapters on a wide range of topics, with a specific focus on issues of identity, research methods and marginalised children’s experiences. She is currently PI on Families First THE OPEN UNIVERSITY PARTNERS WITH YSS | YSS: a research project exploring the experiences of children, young people and families when a family member is in prison.

Lauren Rose

I’m currently working towards my PhD with the Open University in which I’m exploring children’s physical activity experiences as they transition into secondary school.  Children’s voices are central to my research and so I’m using participatory methods in an attempt to capture children’s thoughts and opinions authentically. 

I have worked with children for many years as a tennis coach in a range of clubs, schools and leisure facilities.  I also spent a year working in a primary school as a teaching assistant.  I know the importance of positive physical activity experiences for children’s physical and mental well-being. Through my PhD, I hope to better understand how we can ensure children have access to positive experiences of physical activity before, during and following their transition into secondary school.

Samantha Goodliffe

Samantha Goodliffe is a final year PhD candidate in the School of Health and Wellbeing at the Open University. Her research explores the psychosocial experience of family members living with coeliac disease. This research has involved working with children and young people in advisory and participatory capacities.

Her previous research work in academic settings includes patient and public involvement, design and delivery of self-management interventions, feasibility trials, designing and delivering training to healthcare professionals, and evaluating a perinatal mental health support service. She also worked for a charity supporting children and families. Her work has involved working in multidisciplinary teams with different health populations in the UK and internationally.

Samantha will present working with children and young people as research advisors on research design and participant documentation. Her participatory experiences of conducting online photo-elicited interviews with children and young people plus the ethical challenges encountered will be shared.

Sarah Burton

Sarah Burton works in early years practice in Edinburgh and as an associate lecturer with The Open University. She is also a part-time professional doctorate student with the OU, researching the experience of young children with additional support needs and/or disabilities in early years forest and nature settings.

Dr Kerry Jones

Dr Kerry Jones is a Senior Lecturer in End-of-Life Care. Kerry’s research and teaching focus are on death, dying grief and bereavement and end of life care across the life course. Kerry has published and presented her research on men’s experience of loss, stillbirth neonatal death, parental bereavement, paediatric palliative care, brain injury, dementia, and suicide. More recently, Kerry’s focus has turned to the impact of loss during the Covid-19 pandemic AND men’s grief following perinatal loss, grief and support among children and young people and healthcare workers experiences in end of life care.

Dr Debbie Humphry

Debbie Humphry is a research fellow at the Open University, working on the CHiLL project (Children’s Lives in Changing Places). She is also a researcher at Oxford Brookes University, working on Spaces of Hope, a participatory project exploring the histories of community-led planning. She is an editor for the journal City: analysis of urban change, theory, action. Her research focuses on the lived experiences of housing, neighbourhood and community action in the context of UK national policy and global capitalism, using participatory and visual methodologies. She works closely with several community campaign organisations.

Nerys Defis

Nerys works within the Faculty of WELS at The Open University. As a Primary Curriculum Tutor on the PGCE programme in Wales, she has the pleasure of working alongside student teachers and partner-schools, providing wider access to initial teacher education. In 2021, Nerys joined the OU's Professional Doctorate programme. Her research (currently nearing the end of the planning phase) is based around understanding primary-aged children’s digital media use and how families feel this may impact on children’s health and wellbeing.

Dr Wendy Turner

Wendy’s interests and expertise lies in understanding health and wellbeing in the lives of children and young people. Her research in health literacy was underpinned through participatory methods with young people and explored the intersectionality of agency, equality, health and social justice. Her professional background is within community services, for children and young people with learning disabilities, supporting young people and offending, those with complex health and social needs including end of life care.

For our research and knowledge exchange, we collaborate with a number of colleagues within and beyond The Open University. For more details about these collaborators and projects, see our Projects and Publications sections.