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 a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MPH in Health Policy and Administration at the Yale University School of Public Health. She then completed a 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. She has been invited by the governments and international partners (UNICEF, World Bank, UNESCO) of Morocco, Macedonia, Montenegro, Colombia, and Dubai as a Keynote Speaker to support the advancement of ECD sector initiatives. She was also a research partner in the development of a measure to characterize the quality of ECD service provision in Colombia.
Dr. Ponguta has focused on the evaluation of programs that engage caregivers and the community to promote school readiness and holistic development. The projects include the development and evaluation of a novel school readiness program to build community youth leaders’ vocational skills as early childhood educators in rural Pakistan; a randomized controlled trial evaluating a school readiness intervention targeting mothers and children living in Palestinian refugee camps and marginalized communities in Beirut; and 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.
Currently, she is the Principal Investigator of four main projects: a Sector-Wide Analysis of Early Childhood Development and Education in Emergencies (funded by Dubai Cares); a beta pilot for the cross-country validation of the Remote Assessment for Learning (ReAL) in partnership with Save the Children; the design of a field-face toolkit to design parent education programs at scale in partnership with UNICEF; and the implementation of the LEAPS/JUNTOS program in Colombia.
Dr. Ponguta was awarded the Jacobs Foundation Research Fellowship, the only internationally open, competitive fellowship program for early and mid-career researchers focusing on child and youth development. Dr. Ponguta is a member of the Early Childhood Peacebuilding Consortium, an international network that aims to galvanize the peacebuilding and violence prevention agenda through ECD.
Recent Publications (last 5 years)
- Britto, P.R., Bradley, R.H., Yoshikawa, H., Ponguta, L.A., Richter, L., and Kotler, J.A. (2022) The Future of Parenting Programs: Uptake and Scale. Parenting Science and Practice, 22(3): 258-275.
- Cosso, J., Russo de Vivo, A.R., Hein, S., Reales Silvera, L.P., Ramirez-Varela, L. & Ponguta, L.A. (Senior corresponding author) (2022). International Journal of Educational Research, (111): 101898.
- Ponguta, L.A., Moore, K., Varghese, D., Hein, S., Ng, A., Alzaghoul, A.F., Benavides Camacho, M.A., Sethi., K., and Al-Soleiti., M. (2022) Landscape Analysis of Early Childhood Development and Education in Emergencies: A Scoping Review of the Grey Literature and Global Stocktaking Survey. Journal on Education in Emergencies, 8(1): 138-186.
- Maldonado-Carreño, C., Yoshikawa, H., Escallón, E., Ponguta, L. A., Nieto, A. M., Kagan, S. L., Rey-Guerra, C., Cristancho, J. C., Mateus, A., Caro, L. A., Aragon, C. A., Rodríguez, A. M., & Motta, A. (2021). Measuring the quality of early childhood education: Associations with children’s development from a national study with the IMCEIC tool in Colombia. Child Development, 00:1–15.
- Leckman, J.F., Ponguta, L.A., Pavarini, G., Hein, S.D., McCarthy, M.F., Staiti, H., Hanöz-Penney, S., Rubinstein, J., Pruett, K.D., Yazgan, Y.M., Fallon, N.S., Hartl, F.J., Ziv, M., Salah, R., Britto, P.R., Fitzpatrick, S., Panter-Brick, C. (2021) Love and peace across generations: Biobehavioral systems and global partnerships. Comprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology, 8: 1-10.
- Yousafzai, A.K., Sudfeld, C.R., Franchett, E.E. Siyal, S., Rehmani, K., Bhamani, S., Dai, Q., Reyes, C.R., Fink, G., & Ponguta, L.A. (2021) Evaluating the implementation of LEAPS, a youth-led early childhood care and education intervention in rural Pakistan: protocol for a stepped wedge cluster-randomized trial. Trials, 22: 542.
- González Ballesteros, L.M., Flores, J.M., Ortiz Hoyos, A.M., Londoño Tobón, A., Hein, S., Bolívar Rincon, F., Gómez, O., & Ponguta, L.A. (Senior corresponding author) (2021) Evaluating the 3Cs Program for caregivers of young children affected by the armed conflict in colombia. Journal on Education in Emergencies, 7 (2): 212-52.
- Rey-Guerra, C., Maldonado-Carreño, C., Ponguta, L.A., Nieto, A.M., & Yoshikawa, H. (2021) Family engagement in early learning opportunities at home and in early childhood education centers in Colombia. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 58: 35-46.
- Moore, K., Varghese, D., Sethi, K., Al-Soleiti, M., Kabwe, A. T., Ponguta, L.A., & Hein, S. (2020). Inclusive early childhood development and education in emergencies. Enabling Education Review. 9, 32-34.
- Ponguta, L.A., Ramirez Varela, L., Moore, K., Hein, S., and Cerezo, A. (2020). Sector-wide Analysis of Early Childhood Development and Education in Emergencies in Colombia and Considerations for Global Systems Strengthening. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 172:103-123.
- Barbot, B., Hein, S., Trentacosta, C., Beckmann, J. F., Bick, J., Crocetti, E., Liu, Y., Fernandez Rao, S., Liew, J., Overbeek, G., Ponguta, L. A., Scheithauer, H., Super, C., Arnett, J., Bukowski, W., Cook, T., Côté, J., Eccles, J., Eid, M., Hiraki, K., Johnson, M., Juang, L., Landi, N., Leckman, J., McCardle, P., Mulvey, K. L., Piquero, A., Preiss, D., Siegler, R., Soenens, B., Yousafzai, A., Bornstein, M., Cooper, C., Goossens, L., Harkness, S., & van IJzendoorn, M. (2020). Manifesto for New Directions in Developmental Science. 172:135-149.
- Britto, P. R., Hanöz-Penney, S., Ponguta, L. A., Sunar, D., Issa, G., Hein, S., Conceição do Rosário, M., Almuneef, M. A., Korucu, I., Togo, Y., Kurbonov, J., Choibekov, N., Phan, H. T. T., Fallon, N.S., Artukoğlu, B. B., Hartl, F. J., Salah, R., Fitzpatrick, S., Connolly, P., Dunne, L., Miller, S., Pruett, K., & Leckman, J. F. (2020). Pathways to a more peaceful and sustainable world: The transformative power of children in families Development and Psychopathology, 16:1-12.
- Yoshikawa, H., Wuermli, A. J., Britto, P. R., Dreyer, B., Leckman, J. F., Lye, S. J., Ponguta, L. A., Richter, L. M., & Stein, A. (2020). Effects of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic on Early Childhood Development: Short- and Long-Term Risks and Mitigating Program and Policy Actions. The Journal of Pediatrics, 0(0).
- *Ponguta, L.A., Ghassan Issa, Lara Aoudeh, Cosette Maalouf, Sascha D. Hein, Anna L. Zonderman, Liliya Katsovich, et al. 2020. Effects of the Mother-Child Education Program on Parenting Stress and Disciplinary Practices Among Refugee and Other Marginalized Communities in Lebanon: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 59(6): 727-738.
- Hein, S., Bick, J., Issa, G., Aoude, L., Maalouf, C., Awar, A., Nourallah, S., Zonderman, A. L., Householder, S., Katsovich, L., Khoshnood, K., Moore, C., Salah, R., Britto, P. R., Leckman, J. F., & Ponguta, L. A. (Senior corresponding author) (2020). Maternal perceptions of father involvement among refugee and disadvantaged families in Beirut, Lebanon. PLOS ONE, 15(3), e0229670.
- Ponguta, L.A., Issa, G., Aoude, L., Maalouf, C., Nourallah, S., Khoshnood, K., Zonderman, A.L., Katsovich, L., Moore, C.C., Salah, R., and Leckman, J.F. (2019) Process evaluation of the Mother-Child Education Program among refugee and other vulnerable communities in Lebanon. New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development, 167:91-116.
- Ponguta, L.A., Maldonado, C., Kagan, S.L., Yoshikawa, H., Nieto, A.M., Mateus, A., Aragon, C.A., Rodriguez, A.M., Motta, A., Ramirez Varela, L., Guerrero, P. A., Escallon, E. (2019) Adaptation of the Measuring Early Learning Quality and Outcomes (MELQO) Framework to Assess the Quality of Early Childhood Education Settings in Colombia: Implications for Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 227,105-112.
- Ponguta LA, Aggio C, Moore K, Hartwig E, Jang B, Markovic J, Hasanova L, Bosworth J, & Grover D. Exploratory analysis of decentralized governance and its implications for the equity of early childhood education services in four countries of Europe and Central Asia (2019) Early Years, 39:1-17.
- Franchett, E. E., Yousafzai, A.K., Rasheed, M. A., Siyal, S., Reyes, C. R., & Ponguta, L. A. (Senior corresponding author) (2019) Experiences of community youth leaders in a youth-led early childhood education program in rural Pakistan. Zeitshchrift für Psychologie, 227, 113-120.
- Sadruddin, AF, Ponguta LA, Zonderman AL, Wiley KS, Grimshaw A, and Panter-Brick, C. How do grandparents influence child health and development? A systematic review (2019) Social Science & Medicine, 239: 112476.
- Leckman, J.F., Donaldson, C.K., Affolter, F.W., Ponguta, L.A. Pathways to Wellbeing and a More Peaceful and Sustainable World: The Transformative Power of Children and Families (2019) Japanese Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 60(3): 278-298.
- Yousafzai, A.K., Rasheed, M.A., Rizvi, A., Shaheen, F., Ponguta, L.A., Reyes, C.R. Effectiveness of a Youth-Led Early Childhood Care and Education Programme in Rural Pakistan (2018) PLoS One, 13(12):e0208335.
- Ponguta, L. A., Rasheed, M. A., Reyes, C. R., & Yousafzai, A. K. (2018). A conceptual model for youth-led programs as a promising approach to early childhood care and education. In J. F. Leckman, and P. R. Britto (Eds.), Towards a More Peaceful World: The Promise of Early Child Development Programmes. Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 159, 71–89.
* The study was awarded the 2020 Norbert and Charlotte Rieger Award for Scientific Achievement by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Education & Training
- MPHYale University (2009)
- PhDUniversity of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill (2008)
- BALoras College (2002)