UKRI Future Leaders Fellow
Developmental Neuroscience, Global Health, Poverty, Infancy
I am lead investigator on the inter-disciplinary Brain Imaging for Global Health (BRIGHT) Project. My research focuses on the investigation of core early cognitive and neural mechanisms in infancy by pioneering the use of functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS).
I have spent the last 15 years optimising fNIRS for use with developmental populations. Currently, a major focus of my work is to develop field-friendly neuroimaging and behavioural toolkits for use in low income settings. In 2013, I was instrumental in implementing the first proof of principle fNIRS studies in The Gambia (www.globalfnirs.org). By mapping brain function in the first days and months of life, I hope to better understand how the world we live in mediates early brain specialisation and behaviour, and influences our early developmental trajectories.
I completed a PhD in developmental cognitive neuroscience at Birkbeck (part time 2006 – 2011) with Professors Clare Elwell (Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at UCL) and Mark Johnson. Through collaborations such as these I have had the opportunity to work at the cutting edge of my research field to address new questions and challenges: I have been honoured to receive awards and funding for research, including the Association for Psychological Sciences Rising Star Award and the early career Wiley Prize in Psychology from the British Academy.
In 2019 I began a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow to measure early brain function and behaviour across the perinatal period and understand how individual differences in neurodevelopmental trajectories relate to poverty associated challenges in the UK. During my fellowship I hope to use my research findings in partnership with community informed initiatives to develop novel early life interventions for global health contexts. In particular, I hope to optimise family-mediated interventions that bridge the transition between pre- to post-natal life and are tailored to suit the needs of individual communities.