In 2019, Sarah began a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the University of Cambridge 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 her fellowship she hope to use her research findings in partnership with community informed initiatives to develop novel early life interventions for global health contexts. In particular, she hopes 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.
Her research focuses on the investigation of core early cognitive and neural mechanisms in infancy by pioneering the use of functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS). She has spent the last 15 years optimising fNIRS for use with developmental populations. Currently, a major focus of her work is to develop field-friendly neuroimaging and behavioural toolkits for use in low income settings. In 2013, she was instrumental in implementing the first proof of principle fNIRS studies in The Gambia (www.globalfnirs.org). She is a lead investigator on the inter-disciplinary Brain Imaging for Global Health (BRIGHT) Project alongside Professor Clare Elwell (UCL) and Dr Sophie Moore (KCL). By mapping brain function in the first days and months of life, she hopes to better understand how the world we live in mediates early brain specialisation and behaviour, and influences our early developmental trajectories.
She 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 (Birkbeck). Through collaborations such as these she has had the opportunity to work at the cutting edge of my research field to address new questions and challenges.