PhD student’s world-leading research supported with short-term funding

Categories: Research, School of Health and Society

The School of Health and Society at the University of Salford has provided short term funding to support the world-leading research of PhD student David Junior Gilbert.

Gilbert (as he is known), has undertaken research into the vulnerability of individuals with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) to, and within the criminal justice system. FASD is caused by drinking alcohol in pregnancy, and can make it difficult for children to communicate, keep friendships, and stay calm and still, among other difficulties. Globally, Gilbert’s research is the first to experimentally assess interrogative suggestibility, distortion, fabrication, compliance and confabulation in young people with FASD. 

Interrogative suggestibility is the extent to which suspects accept suggestions from forensic interviewers; distortion is the extent to which suspects misplace facts; fabrication is the extent individuals introduce new stories to existing facts; compliance is open acceptance of suggestions from forensic interviewers while privately disagreeing with the suggestion; and confabulation is replacement of memory gaps (due to poor memory) with imaginative stories. Previously, only one study of seven adults in the U.S has succeeded in measuring only suggestibility in individuals with FASD.

Gilbert has presented his research, which was well received to the Royal College of Psychiatry and at the International Conference on FASD in Norway. His research has also contributed to two court cases in the UK, with the first case he was involved in resulting in a minimal sentence and the second case leading to an acquittal for the individual with FASD.

Throughout Gilbert’s PhD journey, he has received numerous awards. These include presentation awards from the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, 3Minute Thesis People’s choice award (University of Salford) and award for the best presentation at the Cumberland Lodge conference (2021) held at the Royal Family’s estate in Windsor. At the Cumberland Lodge conference, Gilbert’s presentation was voted the best ahead of colleagues from several UK Universities including Cambridge, Oxford, UCL and a host of others. 

Within the University of Salford, Gilbert has also led several innovative initiatives including leading and organising the TEDxUniversityofSalford events, creating and leading the first interschool Postgraduate Research peer support group, co-founding with other colleagues the first PGR society. He recently received a bursary award to assist the University and doctoral school understand the needs of international students in settling into academics in the UK. 

The additional short-term funding Gilbert has received will be used to disseminate findings from his research while also providing a platform for more elaborate research investigations and development of interventions to support increased awareness of FASD within the justice system.

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