Search for courses or information

Sam Wass

Lecturer

Developmental Psychology, Psychology

Dr Sam Wass gained a first-class undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology at Oxford University. He spent his twenties working as an opera director, in opera houses in London, Glyndebourne, Berlin, Vienna, Bregenz, Geneva and others, before returning to academia. He did his PhD at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, and his postdoctoral research in Cambridge, at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. He is currently based at the University of East London, and at Cambridge University, at the Baby-LINC lab. Full details can be found at https://www.sites.google.com/site/samwass.




    BA, Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
    PhD, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London
    Visiting Scientist, Cambridge University

    Overview


    Sam’s research examines how stress affects concentration and learning capacities during childhood. He works with children being raised in low socio-economic status backgrounds, as well as children in early stages of developing conditions such as Autism Spectrum disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    He has received funding from the Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the National Institute of Health Research, the British Academy, the Nuffield Foundation, and others.

    Sam has active research collaborations with a range of researchers including: Vicky Leong, John Duncan and Joni Holmes (Cambridge), Elena Kushnerenko and Mark Harwood (UEL), Mark Johnson (London), Edmund Sonuga-Barke (Southampton), Jukka Leppanen (Finland), Susan Rose (New York), and Lonnie Zwaigenbaum and Susan Bryson (Alberta). 

    For details of recent research findings see my research blogs:

    https://www.sites.google.com/site/samwass/blog-for-researchers

    https://www.sites.google.com/site/samwass/blog-for-public

    Collaborators

    • UEL
    • External
    • Mark Harwood
    • Elena Kushnerenko

    Research

    For a full, up to date list of my publications see my ResearchGate page https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sam_Wass

    Publications

    Azrieli Grant Foundation/Brain Canada: Mar 2016-Jan 2019. £706,347. Novel approaches to the early detection and treatment of ASD. Named co-investigator. PI: Lonnie Zwaigenbaum.   


    ESRC Transforming Social Sciences Award: Jan 2016–Jun 2017. £247,699. Using “naturalistic dual-EEG” to measure mother-infant brain-to-brain (b2b) synchrony in socially-mediated learning. Named co-investigator. PI: Victoria Leong, University of Cambridge.


    Rett Syndrome Foundation: Jun 2015–Dec 2016. £95, 576. Identification of impairments in attention associated with Rett Syndrome. Named co-investigator; PI: Susan Rose, Albert Einstein Medical Centre, New York.


    Psy-IMPACT Programme: Apr 2015–Mar 2018. £497,454. Attention control training for infants at risk of ADHD. Named co-investigator; PI: Mark Johnson, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, London.


    MRC CBU Director’s Strategic Fund: Dec 2014–Dec 2015. Infant precursors of adult intelligence: Attention and abstraction. With John Duncan. PI: Sam Wass.


    School of Science Seed Fund, Birkbeck: Nov 2014–Jul 2015. £9,800. Baby games: Extending the functionality of gaze-based cognitive training games for infants. Named co-investigator; PI: Tim Smith, Birkbeck, London.


    ESRC Transforming Social Sciences Award: Jul 2014–Jun 2015. £3,995. Using “naturalistic dual-EEG” to measure mother-infant brain-to-brain synchrony in socially-mediated learning. Co-PI (with Victoria Leong), University of Cambridge.


    Private Donor: Oct 2013–Oct 2014. $25,000. £15,762. Training attentional control in Rett Syndrome. Named co-investigator; PI: Aleksandra Djukic, Montefiore Medical Centre, New York.


    NISCHR/ Wellcome Trust ISSF Seedcorn Grant: Oct 2013–Oct 2014. £49,402. Visual attention control in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. Named co-investigator; PI: Susan Leekam, Cardiff University.


    British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Jan 2013–Dec 2015. £305,434. Developing new techniques to study attention and learning during infancy. PI: Sam Wass.


    Biomedical Research Centre, South London & Maudsley NHS Trust: Jan 2013–Oct 2014. £85,000. Gaze-contingent attention training in infants at risk of Attention Deficit Disorder. Named co-investigator; PI: Patrick Bolton.

    MRC Centenary Award: Oct 2012–Dec 2013. £30,000. Developing new techniques to provide targeted interventions for high-risk or vulnerable individuals early in development. PI: Sam Wass.


    Nuffield Foundation: Jan 2012–Jul 2012. £25,000. Using eye-tracking technology and gaze-contingency paradigms to train infants’ attentional control in the community — a pilot study. Named co-investigator; PI: Derek Moore, University of East London.


    School of Science Seed Fund, Birkbeck: Jan 2012–Sept 2013. £17,000. Developing a low-cost gaze tracking system for use in attentional training games for infants. Named co-investigator; PI: Tim Smith, Birkbeck, London.

    I am also a co-investigator on a project based on the attention training paradigms I have developed, funded by the European Science Foundation at Tampere University, Finland (PI: Jukka Leppänen). The attention training paradigms I have developed also constitute one of the three named research programs in Professor Mark Johnson’s MRC Programme Grant at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development in London, 2013-2018 (£2.1 million).

    I am also involved in an ongoing collaboration at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences unit, with Dr Joni Holmes and Dr Darren Dunning, to develop developing new touch-screen working memory assessments for preschoolers.

    Funding




    Sam is very active in the public communication of science. He is one of the host scientists in the award-winning Channel 4 series The Secret Life of 4-, 5- and 6-Year-Olds, produced by Teresa Watkins for RDF Television and supported by the Wellcome Trust, for which he is heavily involved in programme development and appears regularly on-screen. He appears regularly on television (BBC News) and radio (BBC Radio 4, 5 Live), and has given talks at the Royal Institution. His work also appears regularly in national newspapers and on BBC News. Sam has acted as media spokesperson for public campaigns by Save the Children, Nickelodeon, Ikea, Dulux and more.

    More details at: https://www.sites.google.com/site/samwass

    Interests

    I am always happy to receive research proposals from students in any of my areas of interest.

    Teaching