Nikki Luke

Nikki’s research interests lie in the well-being of children in foster care and how we can use research with children and their carers to make improvements in this area. Nikki is senior research fellow at the Rees Centre.

nikki.luke@education.ox.ac.uk

Nikki gained a First Class Honours degree in Psychology with the Open University in 2005, and went on to complete her MSc in Social Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire in 2007. For her Master’s dissertation she interviewed adults who had spent time growing up in foster care about the effects this had had on their self-esteem; the results were published in 2008.

From 2007-2009 Nikki worked as a Research Assistant with Professors Robin Banerjee (University of Sussex) and Mark Bennett (University of Dundee) on an ESRC-funded project entitled ‘Self-presentation in childhood: Managing public identity after rule violation.’

Nikki completed her PhD in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex, where she worked with Professor Robin Banerjee as part of the CRESS research lab. While completing the PhD she also taught undergraduate courses in Research Methods and Statistics, Developmental Psychology, and Personality and Individual Differences. She has also taught for Birkbeck, University of London on the module ‘The developing child: A social perspective’, which is part of the Foundation Degree in Psychology for Education Professionals. She continues to teach for the Open University on module DSE141: Discovering Psychology and the residential school for DD303: Cognitive Psychology.

Research

Nikki’s research interests lie in the well-being of children in foster care and how we can use research with children and their carers to make improvements in this area. She first became interested in this topic when completing her undergraduate degree. At that time she was living with her Dad and step-mum who were applying to be foster carers. Over the course of the next few years Nikki came into contact with a number of children and young people in foster care, and became curious about the effects their experiences might have had on their social and emotional development.

For her PhD research Nikki looked at the influence of negative parenting experiences (in particular, physical abuse and neglect) on children’s peer reputations and self-perceptions, examining whether this relationship is mediated by problems in developing or employing social understanding and empathy. The research was conducted in collaboration with the Fostering and Adoption team in Brighton & Hove.

Publications

(see Department of Education page)