Professor Amanda Waterman

Professor Amanda Waterman


Having obtained my BSc and PhD at the University of Sheffield, I joined the University of Leeds in 2007 and am currently Professor in Cognitive Development.

I am the Academic Lead for Cognitive Research in the Born in Bradford Study, which is following the lives of over 13,500 children and their families and is one the largest cohort studies of its type in the world. I sit on the Steering Committee for the Centre for Applied Education Research (CAER), which brings together academics, practitioners, and policy-makers to use research to empower schools to provide the best possible start in life for their children. Within CAER I lead on the theme of Cognitive Health, and am a central part of the Evidence Active Network – a Department for Education-funded initiative that trains teachers to become Research Champions, and helps schools to embed evidence-based practice within the classroom. I sit on the steering committee for the Yorkshire & Humber NIHR Applied Research Committee (ARC) where I provide leadership on cognitive development within the Early Life and Prevention Theme. 

Within the University of Leeds I am the Research Lead for Impact in the School of Psychology, I Chair the Programmes & Quality Committee within the Doctoral College, and I am leading on the Classroom Inequalities Theme within the new N8 initiative, Child of the North. My role within the N8 Child of the North links to a collaboration I am leading with Stanford University on the same theme of Classroom Inequalities. 





  • Research Lead for Impact
  • Chair Doctoral College Committee: Programmes & Quality
  • Academic Lead Cognitive Research: Born in Bradford Cohort Study, and CAER

Research interests

My research is on children’s memory, metamemory, and learning, and the interaction between memory and motor development. I have a particular interest in linking my research to applied contexts such as the education sector, and to broader outcomes relating to health and wellbeing. 

Specific projects include:

  • Academic Lead for Cognitive Research within Born in Bradford, which has included the collection of cognitive measures on ~15,000 children in the Growing Up project within BIB (funded by the ESRC/MRC: £3.5M). Using these data to explore the links between health and wellbeing, sensorimotor and cognitive development, and educational attainment. Following the BIB cohort through into secondary school, and collecting cognitive data as they enter adolescence (funded by Wellcome: £6.99M).
  • Producing a rapid response report for the Department for Education on the impact of Covid-19 on learning and wellbeing in children (2020).
  • Working alongside teachers and educational psychologists to develop guidance materials for schools to support children with poor working memory in the classroom.
  • Following instructions in working memory: investigating how type of encoding and retrieval (e.g., verbal vs. action) affects accuracy in reproducing instructions.
  • Directing attention in working memory: understanding how, and when, adults and children prioritise information in working memory.
  • Copy number variance and cognitive phenotype: how different types of genetic variance impact on children's cognitive & motoric skills.
  • The effect of pre-term birth on cognitive and educational outcomes.
  • Visual Motor Memory: exploring children's performance on a task that requires both visual memory and fine motor skills (using kinematic data collected on tablet laptops), and investigating the relationship between visual-motor memory and children’s reading and handwriting skills.
  • Metamemory: in particular, children's ability to identify and communicate a lack of knowledge. When children are asked a question, are they aware when they do not have the relevant information in memory, and can they respond appropriately.

 PhD students

I have supervised 11 PGRs to completion, and am currently supervising six PGRs:

  • Kate Mooney (ESRC: White Rose Network). How health & social inequalities affect children's cognitive development.
  • Megan Wood (ESRC). Relationships between sensorimotor and cognitive development, and health and wellbeing, within the Born in Bradford longitudinal cohort study.
  • Asiyah Alzahrani (Saudi University). Following instructions in working memory.
  • Clare Copper (NIHR ARC). The effect of preterm birth on cognitive and educational outcomes.
  • Hatice Cinar (Turkish Government). Binding and prioritisation in working memory.
  • Harry Bennett (BIHR/UoL). Supporting children with poor working memory in the classroom.

Selected recent grants

  • Waterman, A. H. (2021). Exploring the associations between children’s cognitive development, sociodemographic factors and educational attainment. ESRC-funded LIDA Data Scientist Intern. £19k.
  • Waterman, A. H. (2020). Identifying and supporting children with poor working memory in the classroom. ESRC IAA. £7k.
  • Waterman, A. H. (2020). Impact of Covid-19 on learning and wellbeing of children. ESRC Rapid Response. £2k.
  • Mon-Williams, M, Waterman, A. H., Hill, L., Clarke, P., & Sugden, D. (2018 - 2020). Helping Handwriting Shine. Education Endowment Foundation. £170k.
  • Pickett, Lawlor, Bird, Waterman, McEachan, Mon-Williams, Small, West, Whincup, Andrews, Barber, Hill, Shire, Lennon, Mason, Waiblinger, Wright (2016-2021). Born in Bradford (Growing Up). ESRC/MRC. £3.5M
  • Hardie, L & Greenwood, D (Waterman: External Advisor). (2016-2019). Iodine status and associated health outcomes in British women during pregnancy. Dept of Health. £1.4M.
  • Wright, Pickett, Small, Mon-Williams, Chambers, Waterman, Parslow, Hill, West, Barber, Bloor, Croudace, Mason, Waiblinger, McEachan (2014 - 2019). Healthy Children, Healthy Families. NIHR CLAHRC. £10M.


  • PhD Psychology
  • BSc Psychology
  • BSc Chemistry

Professional memberships

  • Psychonomic Society
  • Experimental Psychology Society
  • Society for Applied Research in Memory & Cognition
  • European Society for Cognitive Psychology

Student education

I teach across all three years of the Undergraduate programme, as well as on the Masters programme. I act as a Personal Tutor, and supervise final year dissertation projects. I oversee internships within Born in Bradford that we offer students as an option for their year in Industry on our four-year BSc.

Research groups and institutes

  • Perception, action, cognition

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>