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UEL BabyDevLab Team

Student doing Practical Medical Examination with Child


Dr Sam Wass

Research Group Leader, UEL BabyDevLab

Sam gained a first-class undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, and did his PhD at the Centre for Brain Cognitive Development in London. After this he was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, based at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge. After this he moved to the University of East London, supported by  an ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship.

Sam’s research examines how concentration, stress and learning capacities develop during childhood. He works with typically developing children as well as children growing up in diverse socio-economic status backgrounds in East London. He is also a collaborator on a range of projects in London, Europe, the United States and Canada with clinical populations (children with Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, preterm birth and Rett Syndrome). His research has been funded by the Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the National Institute of Health Research, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, and others. 

In addition Sam is also very active in the public communication of science. He has been heavily involved in the development, and featured as an on-screen scientist, of the multi-award-winning Channel 4 series The Secret Life of 4-, 5- and 6-Year-Olds (2014-ongoing). This series has consistently reached audiences of up to 3 million viewers. He has fronted press campaigns both for charities (National Trust, Save The Children) and for commercial organisations (Tesco, Dulux, Ikea, Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network). He has appeared as an expert commentator on all TV networks (BBC, ITV, Sky), radio (BBC Radio 4/5, Sky) and all major national newspapers (Sun, Mirror, Daily Mail, Times, Telegraph, Independent, BBC News).

Sam also has a research blog.

Dr Miha Constantinescu

Dr Miha Constantinescu is a Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at UEL. She completed an MPhil and a PhD in Developmental Psychology at Cambridge University, where she also taught for a few years before joining UEL in January 2018. She remains an Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Cambridge University.

Miha's research focuses on two areas of interest: cognitive development in early infancy, and gender development. In recent published work, Miha examined some of the underlying causes of sex differences in mental rotation, focusing on hormonal and parental contributions to infants' mental rotation abilities.
Most recently, Miha started working on understanding the relationship between eating disorders, gender and SES and the way in which these factors can affect cognitive performance.

Dr Virginia L. Lam

Virginia graduated with a BA (Hons) in Psychology from Cardiff and then MSc with Distinction from Exeter University. Her PhD (from Goldsmiths, University of London) focused on development of ethnic identities in middle childhood, and she joined UEL Psychology after further research (funded by Nuffield Foundation) and teaching at Goldsmiths.

Her research encompasses areas in developmental psychology and social cognition that broadly surround the theme of ‘Diversity, Identity and Development’. The age groups studied span from early childhood through adolescence to adulthood. She is particularly interested in social group (gender, race, ethnic, national, religious and ethnolinguistic) differences, social group identities and intergroup processes, and their impact on other areas of child development (such as social competences, self-concepts or cognitive functioning and educational outcomes).

More recently, Virginia began investigating the potential influence of diversity and identity on ‘applied’/practical areas. These include psychological health\well-being (including self-esteem, body image, food attitudes and eating behaviour, and sport participation and fandom) and political attitudes and behaviour (such as sentiments towards political parties/ institutions/ movements or voting preference) and in ‘real life’ contexts (such as schools or other educational and cultural/religious ‘hubs’).

Virginia has obtained ESRC funds, through the UBEL-DTP, to support a three-year longitudinal project (2018-21) ‘Growing up bilingual’  to ascertain potential benefits and predictors across two educational sectors—complementary language education and state mainstream—with 4 to 11-year-old children and in collaboration with the Newham Partnership for Complementary Education.

Virginia has supervised areas related to the above broad themes. Her current/ recent research supervisees (at all levels) investigate/ have investigated such diverse topics as bilingual development and cultural-linguistic identity, national and supranational identifications and intergroup prejudice, social impact of virtual interactive gaming, clinical impact of cyberbullying among adolescents, gender-related toy choice, and the effects of modelling or rewards on children’s healthy food choice.

More information and links to her research details and publications can be found on her UEL website.


Dr Kasia Kostyrka-Allchorne

Kasia gained a master’s degree from the Warsaw School of Economics. After moving to the UK, she completed a conversion degree in psychology at London Metropolitan University and worked as an assistant psychologist in a clinical setting. Following a career break to raise her children, Kasia returned to academia to start a PhD at the University of Essex. There she investigated the immediate effects of video editing pace on children’s attention and inhibitory control. Kasia is now working as a postdoctoral researcher at King’s College London where she is co-ordinating three research projects. These projects relate to a core theme of examining the neural underpinnings of self- regulation during crucial developmental periods: infancy, early childhood and adolescence. This research is led by Prof Sonuga-Barke (KCL) and Dr Sam Wass (UEL) is the key collaborator involved in these studies.

Dr Martin Holding

Martin gained his BSc in Psychology and Biology from the University of Stirling and his MSc in Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics from the University of Birmingham. He then undertook his PhD investigating neural oscillations in tinnitus at the University of Nottingham, where he worked with various neuroimaging and neurostimulation techniques to elicit reductions in the loudness of peoples perceived tinnitus. He has also previously worked at King's College London, investigating changes in EEG microstates in people who meditate vs people who don’t.

In 2018 Martin joined the UEL BabyDevLab as a post-doctoral researcher on a project funded by the Rett Syndrome Research Trust. It aims to investigate the effects of arousal on autonomic nervous system activity (heart rate and respiration rate) and to understand the underlying cognitive abilities of children with Rett Syndrome using eye tracking.

Louise Goupil

Louise Goupil joined the UEL BabyDevLab in April 2020 as a post-doctoral researcher. Her current project, funded by a H2020 Marie Curie fellowship, investigates early social word-learning from a dyadic perspective, using a combination of behavioral methods and dual EEG.

Louise’s research focuses on the cognitive and metacognitive underpinnings of communication. She is interested in how sonic behaviors foster joint action and social learning in adults and young children, how communication and language emerge, which processes make this possible, and the extent to which metacognition (reading oneself) maps onto mindreading (reading others). During her PhD at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris, FR), she investigated the development of metacognition and help-seeking behaviors in preverbal infants. She then joined IRCAM/CNRS (Paris, FR) as a post-doctoral researcher, where she conducted various projects focusing on vocal communication, and joint action in musical contexts.


Celia Smith

Celia is a doctoral developmental researcher funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Her PhD is on the intergenerational transmission of anxiety, which is based at the Institute of Psychiatry (King’s College London) in collaboration with UEL BabyDevLab. Before starting her PhD Celia worked at the UEL BabyDevLab in 2016 as a Research Assistant, supporting the development and running the testing of the BLAISE study (ES/N017560/1, PI Wass). The BLAISE study examines the effects of the urban environment on the development of stress and attention in infants.

Celia’s BA is from the University of Oxford and her MSc is from the University of East London. She has previously worked as in Assistant Psychologist in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services within the NHS, and in project management roles within mental healthcare management across the third and private sectors.

Zeynep Suata

Zeynep graduated from Hacettepe University, Psychology Department with the high honorary student diploma in 2015 and completed her master in Neuropsychology at University of Bristol. Now, Zeynep is a first year PhD student at Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at King’s College London under the supervision of Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke (King’s College London) and Dr Sam Wass (University of East London). Her PhD is funded by a student scholarship from the Turkish Ministry of Education.

Her current research interest is emotions and how we learn to regulate them. To discover that, she focuses on the earliest stage of life which is infancy. In this direction, Zeynep’s current PhD aims to explore how babies initially react to emotional situations, how they deal with the emotional state caused by these events, and the time-related characteristics of these continuously changing emotional responses during infancy. She believes that if we can discover early indicators of problematic emotional responding, then we can determine children who are at risk.

Jolanta Golan

PhD student supervised by Dr Angela Gosling, Jolanta Golan joined UEL BabyDevLab in 2015, having completed BSc Psychology & MSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology at Birkbeck, University of London. She has carried out the Phase 2 of two large longitudinal projects: ELAS (Early Language, Attention and Social development study) and TALBY (Take a Look Baby!) led by Dr Elena Kushnerenko by exploring neural correlates of speech processing in infants and children from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Her research interests involve the developmental wiring and maturation of the brain as a result of the biological and environmental interplay.

Katie Daubney

Katie is currently undertaking PhD research into how stress affects auditory attention mechanisms in the first years of life as part of a doctoral training partnership between UEL and Birkbeck, University of London.

Previous research collaborations in the UEL BabyDevLab include looking at audiovisual speech perception and learning in pre-schoolers, as well as investigating the relationship between physiological arousal, behavioural reactivity and neural responses in cohorts of infants and school-aged children.

Initially graduating with a joint honours degree in French and English literature from Cardiff University, Katie embarked on a psychology MSc at UEL after working as an actor, teacher and journalist in France and the UK.
She now has two master’s degrees - the first being a psychology conversion, and the second being in clinical and community psychology - from the University of East London.

Megan Whitehorn

Megan Whitehorn is a PhD student supervised by Dr Sam Wass. She joined the University of East London in 2019, having completed a BSc Psychology at Queens University Belfast and an MSc Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience at Goldsmiths. While studying an MRes Functional Neuroimaging degree at Birkbeck, University of London, she worked as a research assistant on the Unlocke Project, an fMRI investigation into the effects of cognitive training on maths and science learning. Her research focuses on the neural correlates of complex dyadic social interactions, with a focus on the development of empathy. She has previously published a review article in the Kent Student Journal of Neuroscience on the origins of altruistic empathy.

Ira Marriott Haresign

Ira is a PhD student funded by Leverhulme Trust. His PhD is exploring the development of interbrain synchronisation, using cutting edge EEG hyper- scanning techniques, under the supervision of Dr Sam Wass. Before starting his PhD Ira worked within the cognitive neuropsychology department at UEL as a Research Assistant with Dr Angela Gosling, supporting various students with the development and testing of their EEG research, as well as his own research examining the neural underpinnings of object processing. Ira gained his undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of East London.

Emily Phillips

Emily is a PhD student funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Her research aims to investigate the influences of early parent-child interaction on child attention, learning and socio-emotional development, and how these influences are substantiated in the brain. Before joining the UEL BabyDevLab, Emily worked as a Research Assistant for John Duncan at the MRC, Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge University. There she worked on a parent-child book-sharing training intervention for pre-school children, developed by Lynne Murray and Peter Cooper at the University of Reading.  Prior to working at the CBU, Emily obtained a First Class Honours degree in Psychology from the University of York, before completing a master's in Developmental Psychopathology at Durham University.

Gemma Goldenberg

Gemma is currently undertaking PhD research into the influence of a natural, outdoor setting on children's cognition, behaviour and wellbeing. Her PhD is funded by the UBEL DTP co-funded and collaborative studentship and is supervised by Dr Sam Wass. Gemma is currently studying for her PhD on a part time basis, whilst working part time for the Chartered College of Teaching as a research and learning specialist, and being a mum to three young boys.

Prior to starting her doctoral research, Gemma worked for 15 years in state primary schools in London, initially as a class teacher in Camden and then as a curriculum leader in Newham. She later worked as an Assistant Headteacher in Newham, during which time she did a part time MSc in psychology at the University of East London for which she gained a distinction.

Gemma did her postgraduate teacher training at the UCL Institute of Education and has a first class BA in English and Media from the University of Sussex.


Caitlin Gibb

Caitlin has an undergraduate degree in Biology from Durham University. She is currently studying a Masters in Psychology at UEL and has been involved in the Baby Learning and Infant Sensitivity to the Environment Study (BLAISE). Her current interests are in developmental psychology, health psychology and neuropsychology. Alongside her studies she is the Lead Trainer for Bart's City Life Saver which is a charity that delivers baby, child and adult basic life support

Annie Strickland

Annie is an MSc Psychology student at UEL, assisting with the Baby Learning and Infant Sensitivity to the Environment Study (BLAISE). Annie has a BA in Fine Art from Georgetown University and a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA) from the University of Oregon. She brings her professional experience in the visual arts and design to her current MSc dissertation research on stress, affect and environments.

Joan Eitzenberger

Joan has just graduated from the BSc Psychology Undergraduate Programme at the University of East London and also decided to continue her Master's studies there. She just started her Masters Programme in Clinical and Community Psychology and aspires to achieve a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in the near future. Joan has been helping with the data entry, data coding and was also assisting in the participant recruitment process in the "BLAISE" study. 

Abdul Khaleque Begum

Abdul recently completed his BSc Child Psychology at UEL. Currently, he is involved in the BLAISE study assisting with video coding, logbook data coding, and Matlab coding. He is looking forward to applying for a Masters in Neuropsychology. His aspiration is to explore the relation between brain and intelligence as a part of his doctorate study in future.

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