Senior Research Scientist

Head, Infancy and Early Childhood Research - CRCD

Office of Education Research (OER)

Office Location

PhD (University of California at Berkeley, CA, USA), MA (University of California at Berkeley, CA, USA), BA (Georgetown University, Washington D.C, USA)


Office Telephone Number
6219 6253

Research Interests
Attachment relationships and Schemas, Early Childhood, Executive Functioning, Fronto-limbic structures and functioning, Health, Maternal Mental Health, Memory, Sensitive Parenting, Stress

  • Current Appointment

    • Senior Research Scientist, National Institute of Education, Singapore (Apr 2018 - Present)

    Previous Appointments

    • Head, Neurodevelopment Research Centre, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, A*STAR, Singapore (2011 - 2018)
    • Principle Investigator, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, A*STAR, Singapore (2013 - 2018)
    • Research Scientist, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, A*STAR, Singapore (2009 - 2013)
    • Research Fellow, Harvard Medical School (2006 - 2009)


    What accounts for differences in the way we remember, organize, plan, regulate, and perceive information?  How do differences in early caregiving affect these functions? Under what conditions do such differences impact our daily lives and well-being?

    What is the role of developmental timing in the association between experience and development?  Can experience alter the pace of development? Why do caregiving practices differ from one family to the next? What can we do to help families and children in need of support?

    These are the types of questions I seek to answer. Prior to coming to NIE, I investigated similar topics in my role as a Principal Investigator and Head of the Neurodevelopment Research Centre at the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences.  There I worked closely with researchers in the GUSTO, EGAIN, DEGA, and SPRESTO cohorts to investigate the impact of exposure to a variety of  forms of experience (e.g., antenatal mental health, maternal behavior, anesthesia, gestational diabetes, breastfeeding, etc.) on aspects of child neurobehavioral development. As a GUSTO PI I am still privileged to be part of these pioneering studies.  In addition, I am the PI on the “BE POSITIVE” study, a collaborative effort between my CRCD colleagues and investigators from Singhealth’s Polyclinics to hone in on early life factors that may influence the way children “prioritize” achieving one skill over the next.  BE POSITIVE is designed, in many ways, to be a platform for collaborative research focused upon the ways that home, community, and school experiences and expectations influence child development.  I am also the PI on another highly collaborative effort, the NRF funded “SPACE” project, which uses a combination of behavioral and neuroscientific tools to uncover the pathways linking socioeconomic status to subsequent school achievement.  In its totality SPACE aims to elaborate on the complex interrelations between socioeconomic status, parenting, preschoolers’ emotional, cognitive and neural development, and performance in mathematics.  Understanding the pathways between these processes can lead to better interventions.

    I am also a certified parent-child intervener, within the evidence based intervention, Video-feedback Intervention to promote Positive Parenting and Sensitive Discipline (VIPP-SD).  My methodological training includes formal reliability on the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) and Frightening/Frightened (FR) systems, and I am additionally a trainer for the “Berkeley 6 Year (Attachment) Reunion” coding system.  I have designed and conducted experiments with event related potentials, eye tracking, and parental sensitivity.  More generally, I have experience working with infants, young children, parents, and even university students, nonhuman primates, and hyenas.  I am a member of Infancy’s Editorial Board and an Associate Editor for Attachment and Human Development, and appeared as a contributor in the first episode of  Netflix Nutopia’s docuseries, “Babies.”

    • Parent-Child Relationships, Attachment, & Sensitivity
    • The development of early life memory and executive functioning
    • Stress and anxiety in relation to parenting neurocognitive-emotional development

    • Society for Research in Child Development (member)

  • I am happy to consider students with interests in the following areas, or related topics:

    • Attachment
    • Parenting and Caregiver Sensitivity
    • Early Life Memory Development, Influences, and Timing
    • Influences upon Executive Functioning (including parenting, SES, parental mental health, certain health conditions)
    • Stress and its Cognitive and Emotional Sequelae
    • Interventions to Improve Caregiving (amongst Preschool Teachers, Parents etc.)
    I am also happy to discuss serving as a co-supervisor on projects involving biological (e.g. endocrine) and neuroscience (e.g. MRI/DTI) techniques.

    Graduate Supervision (in progress)

    1. PhD in Education (Full Time)
        Gwendolyn Ngoh
        Nanyang President’s Graduate Scholar
        Research topic: Caregiver’s Role in Child’s Developmental Outcomes