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. 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.
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 and in Colombia; (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. She is the Principal Investigator of a Sector-Wide Analysis of Early Childhood Development and Education in Emergencies (funded by Dubai Cares). 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. Together with partners from Oxford University, she co-leads the development of a youth-leadership strategy to contribute to the Consortium's goals.
Dr. Ponguta was 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. She was the lead author of a recently-published study entitled: "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" in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The study was awarded the 2020 Norbert and Charlotte Rieger Award for Scientific Achievement by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
- 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.
- Merz, E.L., Roesch, S.C., Malcarne, V.L., Penedo, F.J., Talavera, G.A., Castaneda, S.F., Daviglus, M.L., Giachello, A.L., Gonzalez, F., Perreira, K.M., Ponguta, L.A., and Gallo, L.C. (2016) Social Support, Simpatia and Hypertension Prevalence in Hispanic/Latinos: Findings from the HCHS/SOL Socialcultural Ancillary Study. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 4(3), 131-141.
- Britto, P. R., Yoshikawa, H., Van Ravens, J., Ponguta, L. A., Reyes, M., et al. (2014). Strengthening systems for integrated early childhood development services: A cross-national analysis of governance. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1308, 245-255.
- Merz, E.L, Roesch, S.C., Malcarne, V.L., Penedo, F.J., Liabre M.M., Weitzman, O.B. Navas-Nacher, E.L., Perreira, K.M., & Gonzalez, F., Ponguta, L.A., Johnson, T.P. and Gallo, L.C. (2014). Validation of the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List-12 (ISEL-12) among English and Spanish-Speaking Hispanic Americans from the Sociocultural Study of Latinos. Psychological Assessment, 26(2), 384-394.
- Britto, P.R., Yoshikawa, H., Van Ravens, J., Ponguta, L.A., Oh, S.S., Dimaya, R., and Seder, R.C. (2013). Understanding the governance of early childhood development and education systems in low- income countries (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre Working Paper 2013-07). Florence, Italy: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
Education & Training
- MPHYale University (2009)
- PhDUniversity of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill (2008)
- BALoras College (2002)