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Photo of Professor Ginny Russell

Professor Ginny Russell

Associate Professor (Sociology)


01392 726015

Byrne House GF16

Prof. Russell initially trained as a researcher at the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol, becoming a television producer/director. In 2002 she joined Egenis at the University of Exeter in a communications role, developing the Centre’s communications strategy, editing the Genomics Network Magazine and programming the British Association’s Science in the City festival in 2004. She has written for various publications including The Times Educational Supplement and freelanced as a reporter for Radio 4’s Natural History Programme and Science in Action on the BBC World Service.


  • PhD Epidemiology/ developmental psychology/ sociology
  • MSc Bioinformatics
  • BSc Psychology
  • BA Film


Research group links

Research interests

Prof. Russell is an interdisciplinary scholar of critical diagnosis studies and psychiatric epidemiology. Her research interests encompass diagnosis, COVID, neurodiversity, including autism, ADHD and dyslexia, and the socio-biological nexus of classification and narrative. Prof Russell is working on direct and indirect mechanisms linking diagnosis, identification and intervention with health inequalities. Her research to date is concerns neurodiversity in child and adolescent mental health, especially with reference to autism and ADHD. She has used secondary data analysis and qualitative methods to examine both causes and outcomes, and effects of diagnosis. 

Research projects and interests


Research supervision

Academic lead of postdocs

Supervisor of PhD and masters students

External impact and engagement

Dr Russell was PI on an ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative project which ran from 2013-2014.  The primary aim was to examine whether the proportion of children with the symptoms that underpin autism increased over a ten year period, in tandem with increasing diagnosis. 

The findings from this analysis are discussed in an associated podcast and published as a journal article.

Another project assessed the association between ADHD and socio-economic disadvantage. This led to a PhD studentship for Abby Russell.

Dr Russell is currently PI on a Wellcome Trust funded project, Exploring Diagnosis. An associated film project has enabled autistic artists to create their own film work, and use the work to provoke dialogue around our research themes. Footage provides an insight into how adults with autism view the world, but visually not verbally. The idea is to give something back to the community whose voices and ideas we aim to document.

Magazine articles

An accurate diagnosis? Nasen: Special. (July 2015) National Association of Special Educational Needs Coordinators, p24-25.

·         Across the Spectrum. Britain in 2015. ESRC Publications. p230-38.


I trained as a researcher at the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol, becoming a television producer/director (Full list of TV credits). In 2002 I joined the University of Exeter in a communications role, during my PhD I was retained as Public Engagement Officer and was involved in science communication through Exeter’s Café Scientifique.

I was awarded an ESRC/MRC PhD studentship in 2008 and completed my PhD in 2011. Since then I have been an interdisciplinary researcher in critical diagnosis studies, studying child and adult mental health, with a particular focus on neurodiversity.

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