Dr. Ponguta's work centers on the advancement of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in low and middle-income countries with a focus on policy research, program evaluation, and advocacy. She obtained her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Pathology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her Masters in Public Health at the Yale University School of Public Health. She then completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center where she then joined the Center's faculty in 2014. Dr. Ponguta has led and participated in ECD policy-making and policy analysis projects in over 10 countries in Africa (Kenya, Angola, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda), Southeast Asia (Laos, Timor Leste), Eastern Europe (Kosovo), Latin America (Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua, Brazil) and the Middle East (Palestine). These projects include the development of comprehensive and integrated ECD policies and national implementation plans, national feasibility studies for ECD program implementation at scale, and an international comparative study on the mechanisms of governance and finance of ECD in three world regions.
Dr. Ponguta is currently working on the development of measures to characterize the quality of ECD service provision in Colombia. She also leads and co-leads several projects focused on the evaluation of programs that engage caregivers and the community to promote school readiness and holistic development. These include: (1) the development and evaluation of a novel school readiness program to build community youth leaders’ vocational skills as early childhood educators in rural Pakistan; (2) a randomized controlled trial evaluating a school readiness intervention targeting mothers and children living in Palestinian refugee camps and marginalized communities in Beirut; and (3) the development of an evaluation framework for two interventions in Colombia that address psychosocial and social emotional development and parental engagement in publicly-funded ECD centers. Dr. Ponguta also leads the global communication strategy of the Early Childhood Peacebuilding Consortium, an international network that aims to galvanize the peacebuilding and violence prevention agenda through ECD.
Dr. Ponguta was recently awarded the Jacobs Foundation Early Career Research Fellowship, the only internationally open, competitive fellowship program for early and mid-career researchers focusing on child and youth development.
Education & Training
- MPHYale University (2009)
- PhDUniversity of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill (2008)
- BALoras College (2002)