Student & ECR Spotlight – Meet Sophie Chen, a final year PhD candidate working on movement behaviours in the early years

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

I was trained in Clinical Laboratory with a Bachelor of Medicine (Bmed) in China. My interest in public health was ignited by a preventive medicine module during the undergraduate program. I then continued my study in infectious disease epidemiology and obtained a master’s degree in public health, from The University of Hong Kong. Currently, I am a PhD candidate at the National University of Singapore with Prof Falk MÜLLER-Riemenschneider where my projects mainly focus on understanding and improving movement behaviours (i.e. sleep, sedentary behaviour and physical activity) for the prevention of obesity in children.

I am a member of the leadership team of Early Care and Education (ECE) Special Interest Group in International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA). 


How would you briefly describe your current research/job to someone who is not familiar with your field of study/work? What is your main research interest?

My current research, as part of Growing Up in Singapore Towards Health Outcomes (GUSTO) cohort study, mainly focuses on investigating the prevalence of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep, their contributing factors and relationships between these behaviours. I’m passionate about movement behaviours and behavioural related research. 


What are the main barriers you encounter/experience when conducting research, or what information/skills do you lack to conduct high quality research?

One of the main barriers has been the selection of accelerometer (i.e., ActiGraph) cut points when dealing with accelerometer-measured activity data. Given that multiple sets of cut points are independently developed and published in literature, the choice among cut points that differ in magnitude makes it very difficult to compare findings, such as physical activity levels, across studies. 


What could help you as a student/ECR to further develop/grow in your current position?

Greater opportunities to build collaborations with international researchers who have expertise in movement behaviour with children.


What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition and/or physical activity field? 

I think studies will switch from focusing on single behaviour to multiple behaviours across the 24-h period. Also, I believe there will be a broader use of digital technology in behavioural research for the promotion of health behaviours including nutrition and/or physical activity.



You can get in touch with Sophie via email: [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @CHEN_Bozhi