Dr Sam Wass (top-left) gained a first-class undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology at Oxford University. He completed his PhD in London, at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, before being awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, based at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge University. He was then awarded an Economic and Social Research Council Future Research Leaders Fellowship, for which he moved to the University of East London. In 2020 he was awarded a 5-year research fellowship from the European Research Council. He is leader of the BabyDevLab at the University of East London.
Sam Wass’ research examines stress, concentration and learning during infancy and early childhood. He uses methods including eyetracking, autonomic monitoring and neuroimaging (EEG) to understand how stress influences children’s concentration and learning, and how young children’s stress, concentration and learning capacities are influenced by the environment, and people around them. Sam works with typically developing children, children being raised in low socio-economic status backgrounds, and children in early stages of developing conditions such as Autism Spectrum disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and anxiety. A list of key publications can be found here.
A description of Sam’s current 5-year European Research Council Fellowship project, on how infants’ biological rhythms entrain to the social and physical environment during early life, can be found here.
Sam has received funding as a Principal Investigator from the Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy and others, and as a co-Investigator from the National Institute of Health Research, the Nuffield Foundation, the MQ Mental Health charity and others.
Sam Wass has active research collaborations with a range of researchers including: Emily Jones (Birkbeck), Vicky Leong (Cambridge/NTU Singapore), Mark Johnson (Cambridge/Birkbeck), Edmund Sonuga-Barke and Tony Charman (IoPPN, London), Oliver Perra (Queen’s Belfast), Bart Boets (Leuven, Belgium), Jukka Leppanen (Tampere, Finland), Stefanie Hoehl (Vienna, Austria), Aleksandra Djukic and Susan Rose (Albert Einstein, New York), Noa Gueron Sela (Ben Gurion, Israel) and Lonnie Zwaigenbaum and Susan Bryson (Alberta, Canada).
Commercial and Media Partnerships
In addition, Sam is active in the public communication of science. He appears regularly as an early years expert on television (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky) and radio (all channels), and in all national newspapers. Sam has acted as media spokesperson for public campaigns by the Department of Education, Public Health England, Save the Children, Lego, Nickelodeon, and more. He also appeared as one of the psychologists in the multi-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. Read more about Sam Wass’ work within the media.
Sam is married to Susannah and father to two children. The first of these, Freddie, talks non-stop, and the second, Rose, currently not at all.