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Who's Who in the Society for Psychical Research

The Society for Psychical Research is run by a Council of 18 members elected from the general membership and a varying number of co-opted members. The Council elects the President, a position associated with some illustrious historical names, and appoints various Officers and Staff. We work through a number of committees responsible for aspects of our activities, which include education and research.


Prof. John Poynton

Prof. John C. Poynton, MSc, PhD, OMS, is Professor Emeritus of biology at the University of Natal, South Africa, a research associate of the Natural History Museum, London, and a scientific fellow of the Zoological Society of London. His main research has been in African zoology and biogeography; he has also published in the philosophy of science and in psychical research. He served on the council of the South African Society for Psychical Research, and subsequently served on the council of the Society for Psychical Research in London, where he was the Hon. Secretary from 1997 to his election as President in 2004.




Mary Rose Barrington, MA, joined the SPR in 1957, becoming a Council member in 1962. She has participated in many investigations and experiments, and has served on the Spontaneous Cases Committee since its inception. In 1995 she was elected as Vice-President of the Society.

Dr Richard Broughton, PhD, is a former President of the SPR and current Treasurer. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Northampton and a member of the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes. A former President and long-time Board member of the Parapsychological Association, Dr Broughton’s career began with PhD studies under Dr John Beloff in the 1970s.

Prof. Bernard J. Carr, MA, PhD, joined the Society in 1962, was co-opted to Council in 1975, and became an elected Member of Council in 1977. He has served as SPR Education Officer and was President from 2000 to 2004. Formerly a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, he is now Professor in Mathematics and Astronomy at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London.

Prof. Deborah Delanoy, BA, PhD, joined the Society in 1980, was co-opted to the Council in 1995 and elected in 2000. She is (retired) Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean for the School of Social Sciences (Research and Enterprise) at the University of Northampton; she is also Founder and past Director of the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes (CSAPP), University of Northampton.

Dr Alan O. Gauld, MA, DLitt, PhD, is a retired Reader in Psychology and former President of the SPR. In recognition of his work he has received the Parapsychology Association’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Parapsychological Research and the SPR’s Myers Memorial Medal.

Prof. Donald J. West, MD, DLitt, FRCPsych, was full-time paid Research Officer (1946-1949) and subsequently Hon. Research Officer, and has served in various other capacities since. He has served for many years as a member of the SPR Grants Committee and the Management Committee of the Perrott-Warrick Fund at Trinity College, Cambridge. In recognition of his work he has been awarded the McDougall Award (1958) and the SPR’s Myers Memorial Medal (1997).


Marian Barton has been a member of the Society for Psychical Research for over 50 years and is the Chair of the Survival Research Committee. She is also a member of the Theosophical Society and the Scientific and Medical Network.

Dr Richard Broughton, PhD, see under Vice Presidents above.

Prof. Bernard J. Carr, MA, PhD, see under Vice Presidents above.

Dr Barrie G. Colvin, Bsc, PhD, joined the SPR in 1973 and was co-opted to Council in 2007. He has been actively involved in the investigation of mental and physical mediums, including direct-voice, transfiguration and materialisation mediumship. He is the founder of the Poltergeist Research Group and is a member of the SPR’s Spontaneous Cases Committee.

Prof. Deborah Delanoy, BA, PhD, see under Vice Presidents above

Dr Deborah Erickson, MBA, PhD, is the SPR’s Honorary Website Manager. Her PhD from Saybrook University in San Francisco was the first parapsychological dissertation research of its kind exploring telepathic interspecies communication with companion canines. She has over 30 years in technology management as a Director and Technical Project Manager.

Ciaran Farrell, BSc, GRSC, joined the SPR in February 2015 as an Associate Member, and further to his request, the Council confirmed his election to full Membership in early 2017. He was elected as a member of the SPR’s Council in April 2017.  He was appointed as the Society's Data Protection Officer in November 2017.

John Fraser, joined the SPR in the late 1990s, became a member of the Spontaneous Cases Committee in 2003 and was invited to join the Council in 2008. He was also the former ‘Vice Chair’ (with investigations portfolio) of the Ghost Club from 1998-2004.

Dr Graham Kidd, MBBS, MRCPsych.

Robert McLuhan is a freelance journalist and a member of the Society for Psychical Research since 1993. He wrote Randi’s Prize: What Sceptics Say About the Paranormal, Why They Are Wrong and Why It Matters (2010), and blogs at He is currently overseeing the SPR’s new publications projects financed by the Buckmaster Bequest.

Alan D. Murdie, LLB, has been a member of the SPR since 1997 and was co-opted to the Council in 1999. A lawyer by profession, he is also Chairman of the SPR’s Spontaneous Cases Committee and the long-serving Chairman of the Ghost Club.

Prof. Adrian Parker, MA, PhD is Professor at Gothenburg University, where he is currently carrying out research into lucid dream states and exceptional experiences amongst twins and teaches an international course on “Consciousness Studies and Psychical Research.”  

Guy Lyon Playfair, BA, joined the SPR in 1974 and is currently a member of the Library, Survival and Image, Publicity and Publications committees. A graduate of Cambridge University, he has been a freelance journalist and photographer since 1963. His research activities have included collaboration with Maurice Grosse on the Enfield poltergeist case of 1977-1978.

Prof. Chris Roe, Bsc, MSc, PhD, AFBPsS, is Professor of Psychology at the University of Northampton, where he is also Director of the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes and Course Leader for Northampton’s MSc in Transpersonal Psychology and Consciousness Studies. He is Editor of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.

Dr David Rousseau, BEng, PhD, FRSA, is a systems philosopher and founder of the Centre for Systems Philosophy. He joined the SPR in 1994, was co-opted to Council in 1997 and has been an elected Council member since 2003. In 2000 he co-founded C-FAR, and led the project that in 2003 launched the online Library of Exploratory Science (, which hosts peer-reviewed publications relating to controversies in science and the humanities.

Julie Rousseau, BSc (Hons), is a business strategy consultant in retail ecommerce. She joined the SPR in 1994 and has been a member of Council since 2002. She served as the SPR’s Hon. Website Manager from 2006 to 2014. She is also a Scientific Advisor to the Center for Systems Philosophy and co-founder of the Library of Exploratory Science, which houses the SPR’s Online Library.

Dr Leo Ruickbie, BA (Hons), MA, PhD (Lond), AKC (Associate of King's College), is the author of several books on witchcraft, magic, and the supernatural.  His published articles, covering such subjects as theories of magic, the historical development of personalised conceptions of evil, folk beliefs in the external soul, and the representation of angels in modern media, show his broad interest in the history and sociology of belief and anomalous phenomena. 

Dr Tom Ruffles, Bsc, BA, MA, PhD, ARPS, joined the Society in 1987 and Council in 1990. He has been active on many SPR committees and is currently the Journal’s Book Reviews Editor, the Hon. Communications Officer, and chairs the Library Committee. He is an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society.

Adrian Ryan is a freelance business systems analyst for the financial services industry. His interests include the study of the association between ESP, geomagnetic activity and local sidereal time; laboratory experimentation, particularly remote viewing; and experiment design. He is also a co-founder of the psi-in-the-pub network.

Prof. Donald J. West, MD, DLitt, FRCPsych, see under Vice Presidents above

Dr Melvyn J. Willin, BMus, MMus, PhD, LRAM, is a long-time member of the SPR and has published on his two main fields of research, namely, music and witchcraft. In his role as Hon. Archive Officer he regularly explores and adds to the wealth of material that is housed in the London and Cambridge libraries. He houses the audio-visual collection at his secure premises and has an in-depth knowledge of its content.