Michelle joined SICS as a Research Fellow in May 2015, under the guidance of Dr Birit Leutscher-Broekman. Prior to this, she completed her PhD (Integrated Biology and Medicine) at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School as their pioneer batch of PhD graduates under A*STAR scholarship, where she conducted research in the role of hyaluronan as an odor in zebrafish, as a step to further characterize Schreckstoff, an alarm pheromone in fishes. As a mother of young children, she is aware and intrigued by the deep complexity of how parental influences can affect social and cognitive development of a child. She is largely inspired by her children to make the switch in the research field, from animal models to human, in order to learn, question and understand on the effects of parental influences on children’s cognitive development and psychopathology.
She is interested in how genetic and environmental factors, such as parenting and maternal mental health, would play a role on the children’s approach to novel stimuli, that is, whether the children would approach novel stimuli with or without any fear or apprehension. In addition, she is interested in developing an environmental cumulative risk score, so as to facilitate future intervention studies in evidence-based treatment planning on young children who are at risk of developing psychopathologies such as autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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