Francesca Happé#

Short laudatio by Uta Frith#

Professor Happé is an international leader at the forefront of research into autism spectrum disorders. She has unparalleled strengths in three areas: top-quality research of high impact; superb communication skills; and a deep commitment to nurturing the next generation of young scientists. Francesca has changed the way people think about autism, and her theoretical and empirical contributions are internationally recognised, as reflected in the awards and proof of esteem that she has received.

Prof. Happé's international reputation, and the impact of her work, is seen in her appointment to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 Neuro-developmental Disorders Workgroup, on which she is the only non-US, non-clinician member.

Her work is highly cited, and her methodological contributions are widely adopted (e.g. 553 citations on Google Scholar for her 1994 ‘Strange Stories’ paper). Her tests have become indispensible to autism researchers everywhere. Her book, which is directed at a general audience, made her extremely well known even within the non-academic autism community. She has had major impact also as editor of the prestigious Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Professor Daniel Pine, NIMH, wrote of her earlier this year, “Dr. Happé has emerged as the single leading theoretician concerning the pathophysiology of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. In particular, she is the best scientist anywhere in the world involved in bringing the study of neuroscience to the clinical area of pervasive developmental disorders… She has made major contributions to her field that have fundamentally altered the scientific landscape for the study of autism and pervasive developmental disorders”.

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