Welcome to our webpage where you can find out about our exciting new project! We are a research team based at the University of Lincoln. We will be looking at how dogs can help children learn and develop in the classroom environment. Here, you can find out everything about the LEAD project and get regular updates. We hope you enjoy finding out more and if you have any further queries or questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best wishes,
The LEAD Team

The Team

Research Lead

Prof. Kerstin Meints (University of Lincoln)

Prof. Kerstin Meints completed her PhD at Hamburg University within its Cognitive Science Doctoral programme in 1996. She then collaborated with Professors Kim Plunkett and Paul L. Harris in Oxford’s department of Experimental Psychology on a Leverhulme grant proposal from which her post-doctoral position arose. Within the project, she carried out a range of experiments on early word learning and categorisation in the Oxford Babylab. Prof. Meints joined the University of Lincoln in 1999, opened the Lincoln Babylab the year after and has since established the lab as one of the world’s most advanced infant research labs. She also works on applied research in human-animal interaction, especially dog bite prevention. She has been awarded a prestigious NIH research project on teaching children dog signalling and is part of the international project on dog bite prevention “The Blue Dog”. She has been responsible for helping to create the final version of the Blue Dog DVD and booklet and also for the first assessment of the Blue Dog programme.


Victoria Brelsford (University of Lincoln)

Victoria studied Psychology at the University of Lincoln and was awarded a Psychology BSc with 1stClass Honours in 2010. She then obtained her Child Studies MSc and her Degree was awarded with Distinction. She also received the Deans Prize for her work in 2011. Since then she worked as research intern in Psychology at the University of Lincoln across a range of topics and areas: Babylab, Safety Lab, EEG Lab. Victoria also has a background working in Early Years Care and Education, with a wealth of experience in relation to Primary Education Policy and Practice, an excellent understanding of the requirements of interventions in schools and effective inspection criteria due to her school governor role which she has now for over 12 years.

Mirena Dimolareva (University of Lincoln)

Mirena has studied Psychology at the University of Lincoln and finished her degree with a First. She has gained substantial experience working in the Lincoln Babylab over a period of three years. Having completed her degree successfully, she has since worked in different teams with therapists and consultants to provide one to one support for children with Autism. She provided intensive (7hours/day, 5 days/week) behavioural therapy (Applied Behavioural Analysis) to 4 children with ASD over a period of 2 years, under the supervision of a Consultant.

Research Administrator

Dr. Elise Rowan (University of Lincoln)

Dr Elise Rowan gained her PhD at Cambridge University Orthopaedic Research Unit in 1996. Elise worked previously at Newcastle University in a number of different roles. Elise’s work experience includes research projects for patients with dementia, stroke and Parkinson’s disease as well as two international surgical trials for patients with spontaneous intracerebral haemorrhage and traumatic head injury. These roles have provided her with a broad experience in data management, ethical applications, protocol development and in research project and clinical trial management.


Dr. Nancy Gee (WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition)

Dr Gee has spent the past several years documenting the effect dogs have on pre-school children within the classroom setting. Her work has found that the presence of a dog in a classroom can provide many positive benefits for children, including enhanced motor skills, better ability to follow instructions and improved memory. Taken together these findings have important implications for the use of therapy dogs in education


Dr. Kyla Pennington (University of Lincoln)

Dr. Kyla Pennington is a Lecturer at Lincoln University within the School of Psychology. She holds a PhD from the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, a PGDip in Psychology (Distinction) from York St John University and a BSc in Neuroscience from Glasgow University. Her broad research interests lie in the psychopathology of psychiatric and neurological disorders and gene x environment interactions and their influence on biological and cognitive processes. Kyla is also interested in the wider societal effects that beliefs about disease causation has on behaviour. As Kyla has substantive experience in cortisol analysis, she will oversee cortisol analysis as well as train the RA to analyse the samples.

Dr. Susan Chipchase (University of Lincoln)

Dr. Susane Chipchase gained her PhD in experimental psychology investigating the influences of emotion on memory, at the University of Nottingham in 2009. In between her undergraduate studies and PhD she gained experience of research in a variety of clinical, medical and occupational settings. Her subject specialisms are emotion and memory interactions, emotion regulation and she has considerable experience in carrying out skin conductance measures.

Dr. Laëtitia Maréchal (University of Lincoln)

Dr. Laëtitia Maréchal has a broad interest in Primatology/Anthropology, Conservation Psychology, Behavioural Ecology, Endocrinology and Conservation Biology. She is particularly interested in the application of multidisciplinary methods for understanding the relationships between humans, animals and their environment, including human-wildlife interactions.

Dog Behaviour Specialist

Dr. Hannah Wright (University of Lincoln)

Dr. Hannah Wright is currently a postdoctoral Research Fellow within the School of Life Sciences. Her research interests span the fields of Animal Behaviour, Cognition, Welfare, Psychology and Human-Animal Interactions. She has worked on the PAWS (Parents Autism Workshops and Support) project (Dogs for the Disabled 2013) on the impact of pet dogs on stress of primary carers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She is also an applied animal trainer with extensive experience in working with and training dogs for both research and domestic purposes.

Prof. Tiny de Keuster (Universiy of Ghent)

Consultant Prof. Tiny de Keuster is a veterinarian, dog behaviour specialist and founder and organiser of international Blue Dog project. The Blue Dog is a unique, international, scientifically validated, multi-discipline, multi-lingual project (translated into 14 languages) that is handed-out via the veterinary associations in 19 countries. The programme is intended to help families with young children live safely with their dogs by reducing the incidence of bites within the home to reduce the rate of euthanasia and relinquishment of unwanted dogs to shelters, hence improving animal welfare. Prof. de Keuster carries out research and publishes next to running her day-to-day veterinary practise. She has over 19 years of experience in assessing and treating dogs with behaviour problems.

Contact Us

Contact us If you have any questions. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.