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Personal profile

Research interests

I am interested in how new technologies might influence the social and cognitive development of children, especially children with developmental disorders like autism.



I graduated with undergraduate and masters degrees in Psychology from the University of Birmingham, followed by a PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of Nottingham. I was an ESRC Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, before becoming a Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, and then a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde. I joined Heriot-Watt University in 2012 as a Reader and was promoted to Professor in 2020.

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Research Output

An architecture for emotional facial expressions as social signals

Aylett, R., Ritter, C., Lim, M. Y., Broz, F., McKenna, P., Keller, I. & Rajendran, G., 19 Mar 2019, In : IEEE Transactions on Affecticve Computing.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • 95 Downloads (Pure)

    Identifying Embodied Metaphors for Computing Education

    Manches, A., McKenna, P. E., Rajendran, G. & Robertson, J., 31 Jan 2019, In : Computers in Human Behavior. 105859.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)
    60 Downloads (Pure)

    "Sorry to Disturb You": Autism and Robot Interruptions

    McKenna, P. E., Keller, I., Part, J. L., Lim, M. Y., Aylett, R., Broz, F. & Rajendran, G., 29 Nov 2019, (Accepted/In press) HRI '20: Companion of the 2020 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction. Association for Computing Machinery, p. 360-362 3 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

  • Blending human and artificial intelligence to support autistic children's social communication skills

    Porayska-Pomsta, K., Alcorn, A. M., Avramides, K., Beale, S., Bernardini, S., Foster, M. E., Frauenberger, C., Good, J., Guldberg, K., Keay-Bright, W., Kossyvaki, L., Lemon, O., Mademtzi, M., Menzies, R., Pain, H., Rajendran, G., Waller, A., Wass, S. & Smith, T. J., 20 Dec 2018, In : ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. 25, 6, 35.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 4 Citations (Scopus)
    8 Downloads (Pure)
    Open Access
  • 3 Citations (Scopus)
    25 Downloads (Pure)


    • 4 Participation in conference
    • 3 Invited talk
    • 1 Membership of committee

    Wellcome Trust (External organisation)

    Gnanathusharan Rajendran (Member)

    17 Jun 201518 Jun 2015

    Activity: MembershipMembership of committee

    Serious games for children: a developmental psychology approach (Keynote)

    Gnanathusharan Rajendran (Speaker)

    24 Mar 2015

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

    Edinburgh International Science Festival 2014

    Gnanathusharan Rajendran (Participant)

    10 Apr 2014

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

    Edinburgh International Science Festival 2008

    Gnanathusharan Rajendran (Participant)

    14 Apr 2014

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

    Press / Media