2020 PEDAL studentships announced as Centre takes on record number of PhD candidates

Clockwise from top left: Chika Ezeugwu, Morgan Healey, Stephanie Nowack, Domnick Okullo, Emma Pritchard.

Clockwise from top left: Chika Ezeugwu, Morgan Healey, Stephanie Nowack, Domnick Okullo, Emma Pritchard.

Four PhD candidates have been awarded PEDAL studentships – which cover the cost of a PhD course in the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) – for 2020.

The studentships are funded jointly by the LEGO Foundation and the Cambridge Trust. They cover both fees and maintenance for a three-year PhD course.

The recipients for 2020 are Emma Pritchard, Stephanie Nowack, Domnick Okullo and Chika Ezeugwu. Five new PhD students have joined the Centre in total this year, which is a record number. Stephanie and Domnick will also be working jointly with the Faculty’s Centre for Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL).

Emma is currently a research assistant working with Dr Jenny Gibson. Her recent work involved conducting a scoping review of play-based interventions to support social communication for autistic children, and she plans to explore the role of play-based methods in assessing autism further for her PhD.

Stephanie is a registered Research Psychologist with a strong interest in early childhood development and playful learning in underprivileged communities. Her PhD will examine the benefits that can be gained from playful approaches to children’s learning in different contexts: specifically, she plans to research how autistic children’s social skills can be enhanced through playful learning.

Domnick has recently completed an MPhil in Education, Globalisation and International Development at the Faculty and specialises in play in early childhood education (ECE). His research concerns how play can be integrated into the preschool curriculum to enhance ECE, especially in developing countries.

Chika is interested in integrating neuroscience, cognition, child development and education for the benefit of children from low-income settings and his current research examines how children’s self-regulation may be developed through play at school.

They will be joined in the PEDAL Centre by Morgan Healey, a University of Cambridge Gates Scholar. Her PhD will focus on the development of a play-based parenting intervention that helps young children to develop essential higher cognitive capacities (‘executive functions’), partly with a view to addressing gaps in early childhood programming in Brazil, where she has previously worked

More information about the PEDAL Research Centre, and the PEDAL studentships programme, is available here.