Dr Kathryn Asbury



I am a twin researcher who studies the relevance of genetics to education. I am particularly interested in understanding genetic and environmental influences, and the interplay between them, on pupils' academic achievement, well-being, mental health and behaviour. I am also interested in the risks and benefits involved in applying findings from behavioural genetics to education. Finally, I am beginning to work on narrative identity - the stories people tell about themselves - and how these stories relate to individual differences in how young people make plans for the future, and their mental health and wellbeing.

I have worked in the Department since September 2012 and am currently a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for the MSc Psychology in Education (conversion programme). I am also our Department's Impact Lead and am interested in how educational research can most usefully be applied in the real world.



I have been working with data from the Twins' Early Development Study (TEDS) for sixteen years, first as a Research Assistant, then a PhD student and subsequently as an independent researcher. TEDS is based at King's College London and is led by Professor Robert Plomin. We have been following thousands of twin pairs since they were born until now when they are entering adulthood. My research with TEDS data focuses on home and school experiences that can explain individual differences in behaviour.

I recently finised working on a study entitled: Understanding and influencing pupils’ choices as they prepare to leave school. This study was funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

The over-arching aim of my research is to identify aspects of the school environment that make a difference to pupils, after genetic influences on individual differences have been taken into account. In time I hope that this research will help us to recommend ways of making schools more genetically sensitive and better equipped to draw out the individual potential of every child.

Research group(s)

External activities


I work closely with the Twins’ Early Development Study (TEDS) team at King’s College London and am also a peer reviewer for several academic journals.


Contact details

Psychology in Education Research Centre
Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 323431