UCL News


Spotlight on Dr Kathleen Richardson

26 April 2012

This week the spotlight is on Dr Kathleen Richardson, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow,

Kathleen Richardson ucl.ac.uk/anthropology/" target="_self">UCL Department of Anthropology.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I was fortunate to receive a postdoctoral three-year Fellowship from the British Academy. During the Fellowship, I collected data on the use of robots for the therapeutic treatment of autism.

I carried out a small study at a school for children with autism spectrum conditions and then went to Los Angeles to see what projects they had in the same area.

The use of robots as therapeutic assistants for children with autism spectrum conditions is still very new so it was one of the few studies assessing the potential impacts. Now, I am writing a book on robots, so spend much of my time in the library.

I am also in the process of preparing more research funding applications as my research fellowship comes to an end at the end of August 2012. That can take up a long time. I would like to continue my social anthropological work in the areas of autism, robots and social networking.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I started in UCL in September 2009 in the Department of Anthropology. Prior to this, I was a research associate at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge and a British Telecom Research Fellow carrying out research on social networking.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I think my personal achievement that I am most proud of is that I was the first person in my family to go to university. I actually came to UCL as an undergraduate.

I come from an area where not many youngsters feel engaged with the educational system, but, through persistence, I went to study at university.

I go back now and again to talk to young people about robots and social networking in the hope that I can inspire them to think about the huge benefits higher education offers.

What is your life like outside UCL?

At the moment, I spend most of my life in the library. I enjoy Radio 4, cooking, current affairs and novels, but I also love watching TV and movies.

I enjoy following up with friends and strangers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

My favourite thing is going to seminars and then meeting up with friends and colleagues to discuss the meaning of life and, of course, to have fun. Occasionally, I go to gay clubs to do some dancing.