School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Dr Margherita Malanchini

Margherita

Lecturer in Psychology

Email: m.malanchini@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: Room 2.02, Fogg Building
Room Number: +44 (0)20 7882 5058

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Brain and Behaviour (PSY121)

Research

Research Interests:

My research expertise is in developmental psychology, cognition and learning, which I investigate applying an interdisciplinary approach at the intersection between genetics, psychology and endocrinology. Broadly, I am interested in understanding why students of all ages differ so widely in learning and cognitive abilities. To this end, my research focuses on investigating the psychological, environmental and biological mechanisms that support individual differences in learning and cognition over development.

While my PhD work has largely focused on leveraging family designs (e.g. twin studies) to estimate genetic and environmental effects, I have recently expanded my expertise to include DNA-based techniques (e.g. genome-wide polygenic scores and genomic structural equation modelling). I collaborate closely with two large developmental twin studies, one in the UK (the Twins Early Development Study) and one in the US (the Texas Twin Project) and with a host of wonderful collaborators worldwide.

My current research programme includes three main strands:

1. Addressing the following key question: how do environments get under the skin to regulate biological function in the manifestation of cognitive and academic skills?

I plan to leverage recent developments in genomic, epigenetic and endocrinological research to identify the environmental and biological mechanisms through which genetic predisposition is translated into observed variation in cognition and learning.

2. Unravelling the cognitive, experiential and emotional processes supporting the acquisition of literacy, second language and mathematics abilities during adolescence.

During my doctoral training, I founded an ongoing longitudinal study, MILES: A Multi-cohort Investigation into Learning and Educational Success (http://www.projectmiles.com). MILES has collected data from over 2,000 Italian high school students, aged 14-19 over three waves and the MILES team, which I direct, is currently coordinating the preparation of the fourth collection wave that will take place in May 2020. My aim is for MILES to become a leading study in the integration of psychological, technological and biological data.

3. Leveraging cutting-edge technological discoveries to develop new measurement tools to advance research practice in the fields of cognition, learning and self-regulation.

I have worked at several collaborative projects aimed at developing innovative Apps to support online data collection as well as online ‘gamified’ batteries of cognitive tests, including gamified tests of spatial navigation abilities and general cognitive ability. My plan is to continue developing innovative, reliable and easily accessible tools to advance research into learning and cognition.

A further area in which I have gained expertise is the analysis of massive datasets of online behaviour (click data, my work with click data is explained in greater detail in this blog post https://bold.expert/using-daily-interactions-with-e-learning-platforms-to-predict-achievement/).

Publications

Peer reviewed publications

  1. Malanchini, M., Rimfeld, K., Wang, Z., Petrill, S.A., Tucker-Drob, E.M., Plomin, R., & Kovas, Y. (in press). Genetic factors underlie the association between anxiety, attitudes and performance in mathematics. Translational Psychiatry.
  2. Madrid-Valero, J.J., Gregory, A.M., Shakeshaft, N.G., Malanchini, M., Schofield, K.L., & Ronald, A. (in press). Symptoms of sleep quality, insomnia and internalising difficulties in adolescents: insights from a twin study. Sleep
  3. Rimfeld, K., Malanchini, M., Spargo, T., Spickernell, G., Selzam, S.,McMillan, A., Dale. P.S., Eley, T.C., Plomin, R. (in press). Twins Early Development Study: a genetically sensitive investigation into behavioural and cognitive development from infancy to emerging adulthood. Twin Research and Human Genetics.
  4. Rimfeld, K.*, Malanchini, M.*, Hannigan, L.J., Allen, R., Dale, P.S., & Plomin, R. (2019). Teacher assessments during compulsory education are as reliable, stable and heritable as standardized test scores. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Published online 12th May 2019.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13070
  5. Zheng, A., Briley, D.A., Malanchini, M., Tackett, J.L., Harden, K.P., & Tucker-Drob, E.M. (2019). Genetic and Environmental Influences on Achievement Goals Shift with Age. European Journal of Personality. Published online 9th May 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.2202
  6. Malanchini, M., Smith-Wooley, E., Ayorech, Z., Rimfeld, K., Krapohl, E., Vuoksimaa E., Korhonen T., Bartels, M. , van Beijsterveldt, T.C.E.M., Rose, R.J., Lundström, S., Anckarsäter, H., Kaprio, J., Lichtenstein, P., Boomsma, D.I. & Plomin, R. (2019). Aggressive behaviour in childhood and adolescence: the role of smoking during pregnancy, evidence from four twin cohorts in the EU-ACTION consortium. Psychological Medicine, 49 (4), 646-654. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291718001344
  7. Malanchini, M., Engelhardt, L.E., Grotzinger, A.D., Harden, K.P., & Tucker-Drob, E.M. (2018). ‘Same but different’: Associations between multiple aspects of self-regulation, cognition and academic abilities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Published online 17th Dec, 2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000224 
  8. Malanchini, G., Stefanini, G.G., Malanchini, M., Condorelli, G., Lombardi, F. (2018). Higher mortality during weekend admission for Acute Coronary Syndrome; a large-scale cross-sectional Italian study. Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine. Published online on Dec 11th, 2018. Doi: 10.2459/JCM.0000000000000743
  9. Rimfeld, K.*, Malanchini, M.*, Krapohl, E., Hannigan, L.J., Dale, P.S., & Plomin, R. (2018). Stability and change in the etiology of educational achievement across the school years. npj Science of Learning, 3, 16. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41539-018-0030-0
  10. Toivainen, T., Pannini, G., Papageorgiou, K. A., Malanchini, M., Rimfeld, K., Shakeshaft, N.G., & Kovas, Y. (2018). Sex Differences in Spatial Ability: Exploring the Twin Testosterone Transfer Hypothesis. npj Scientific Reports, 13653 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-31704-y
  11. Papageorgiou, K. A., Malanchini, M., Denovan, A., Clough, P., Shakeshaft, N., Schofield, K., & Kovas, Y. (2018). Longitudinal association between narcissism, mental toughness, and school achievement. Personality and Individual Differences. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.04.024 
  12. Wang, Z., Shakeshaft, N., Schofield, K., & Malanchini, M. (2018). Anxiety is not enough to drive me away: A latent profile analysis on math anxiety and math motivation. PLoS One 13(2) e0192072. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192072
  13. Toivainen, T., Badini, I., Chapman, R., Malanchini, M., Oliver, B.R., Matsepuro, D., & Kovas, Y. (2018). Assessing Creative Expressiveness in Children’s Written Stories Using the Consensual Assessment Technique. The European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences, 33, 375-384. https://dx.doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2018.11.02.80
  14. Malanchini, M., Rimfeld, K., Shakeshaft, N. G., Rodic, M., Schofield, K. L., Selzam, S. …, Kovas, Y. (2017). The genetic and environmental aetiology of spatial, mathematics and general anxiety. npj Scientific Reports, [42218]. 10.1038/srep42218
  15. Malanchini, M.*, Wang, Z.*, Voronin, I., Schenker, V., Plomin, R., Petrill, S.A., & Kovas, Y. (2017). Reading Self-perceived Ability, Enjoyment and Achievement: A Genetically Informative Study of Their Reciprocal Links Over Time. Developmental Psychology, 53(4), 698-712. doi.org/10.1037/dev0000209
  16. Rimfeld, K., Shakeshaft, N.G., Malanchini, M., Rodic, M., Selzam, S., Schofield, K.L., Dale, P.S., Kovas, Y., & Plomin, R. (2017). Phenotypic and genetic evidence for the unifactorial structure of spatial abilities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(10), 2777-2782. http://www.pnas.org/content/114/10/2777
  17. Toivainen, T., Malanchini, M., Oliver, B.R., & Kovas, Y. (2017). Creative Storytelling in Childhood is related to Exam Performance at Age 16. The European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences, 33, 375-384. http://dx.doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2017.12.40
  18. Shakeshaft, G., Rimfield, K., Schofield, K.L., Selzam, S., Malanchini, M., Rodic, M., Kovas, Y., & Plomin, R. (2016). Rotation is visualisation, 3D is 2D: using a novel measure to investigate the genetics of spatial ability. npj Scientific Reports, 6, 30545 10.1038/srep30545
  19. Malanchini, M.*, Allegrini, A.G.*, Rimfeld, K., Cheesman, R., von Stumm, S., Demange, P.A.D., Nivard, M.G., Grotzinger, A.D., Raffington, L., Harden, K.P., Tucker-Drob, E.M., & Plomin, R. (in preparation). Triangulating across genetic methods to uncover the contribution of cognitive and noncognitive skills to academic achievement throughout the school years. Planned outlet: Nature Human Behaviour.
  20. Malanchini, M., Tosto, M., Garfield, V., Czerwik, A., Dirik, A., Arden, R., Malykh, S., & Kovas, Y. (2016). Preschool Drawing and School Mathematics: the nature of the relationship. Child Development, 87(3), 929-943. 10.1111/cdev.12520
  21. Malanchini, M., Voronina, I.D., Soldatova, E.L., Maslennikova, E.M, Malykh, S.B., & Kovas, Y. (2015). Private environment and the ability to draw at an early age: a study of differences in monozygotic twins. Theoretical and Experimental Psychology, 8(4), 22-35.  
  22. Savostyanov, A.N, Dolgorukova, T.A, Esipenko, E.A., Zaleshin, M.S. Malanchini, M. … & Kovas, Y. (2015). EEG Correlates of Trait and Mathematical Anxiety during Lexical and Numerical Error-Recognition Tasks. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology Linguistics and Language Sciences, 2 (7), 303. scholar.waset.org/1999.9/10002036
  23. Bogdanova, O., Ginku, E., Bogdanova, E., Zueva, D., Malanchini, M., & Kovas, Y. (2014).  Mathematical Anxiety and mathematical learning: Multidimensional approach. Abstract.  Personality and Individual Differences, 60, Supplement, p. S9
  24. Filer, K., Malanchini, M., Voronina, I.D., Akimova, K.K., Zueva, D.E., & Kovas, Y. (2014).  Longitudinal relationship between second language motivation and achievement feedback.  Theoretical and Experimental Psychology, 6(4), 61-75.

Preprints

  1. Malanchini, M.*, Rimfeld, K.*, Shakeshaft, N. G., McMillan, A., Schofield, K.L., Rodic, M., Rossi, V., Kovas, Y., Dale, P.S., Tucker-Dob, E.M., & Plomin, R. (2019). Evidence for a unitary structure of spatial cognition beyond general intelligence. biorXiv posted July 4th 2019 doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/693275
  2. Malanchini M., Engelhardt L.E., Sabhlok A., Grotzinger A.D., Madole J.W., Freis S.M., Harden, K.P. & Tucker-Drob E.M. (2019). Weak and uneven ssociations of home, neighborhood and school environments with stress hormone output across multiple time scales. biorXiv posted July 18th 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/705996
  3. Malanchini, M., Rimfeld, K., Wang, Z., Petrill, S.A., Tucker-Drob, E.M., Plomin, R., & Kovas, Y. (2019). Genetic factors underlie the association between anxiety, attitudes and performance in mathematics. biorXiv posted July 31st 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/719393
  4. Harden, K.P,   Domingue, B.W., Belsky, D.W., Boardman, J.D., Crosnoe, R., Malanchini, M., Nivard, M.G., Tucker-Drob, E.M., Harris, K.M. (2019). Genetic Associations with Mathematics Tracking and Persistence in Secondary School. biorXiv first published online 05 April 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/598532
  5. Rimfeld, K., Malanchini, M., Spargo, T., Spickernell, G., Selzam, S.,McMillan, A., Dale. P.S., Eley, T.C., Plomin, R. (2019). Twins Early Development Study: a genetically sensitive investigation into behavioural and cognitive development from infancy to emerging adulthood. PsyArXiv first published online 28 May 2019. doi: 10.31234/osf.io/xqh52

Manuscripts under review and submitted

  1. Malanchini, M., Rimfeld, K., Allegrini, A. G., Ritchie, S.J., & Plomin, R. (under review). Cognitive ability and education: how behavioural genetic research has advanced our knowledge and understanding of their association. Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Review. Special issue on twin studies.
  2. Malanchini M., Engelhardt L.E., Sabhlok A., Grotzinger A.D., Madole J.W., Freis S.M., Harden, K.P. & Tucker-Drob E.M. (under review). Associations of home, neighborhood and school environments with stress hormone output across multiple time scales. Molecular Psychiatry.
  3. Malanchini, M.*, Rimfeld, K.*, Shakeshaft, N.G., Schofield, K.L., Rodic, M., Rossi, V., Dale.P.S., Kovas, Y. & Plomin, R. (submitted). Evidence for a unitary structure of spatial cognition beyond general intelligence, npj Science of learning.
  4. Wang, Z., Shakeshaft, N.G., Rimfeld, K., Schofield, K.L., & Malanchini, M. (under review). The longitudinal role of domain-specific anxiety in boys and girls academic development. Journal of Adolescence.
  5. Harden, K.P,   Domingue, B.W., Belsky, D.W., Boardman, J.D., Crosnoe, R., Malanchini, M., Nivard, M.G., Tucker-Drob, E.M., Harris, K.M. (under review). Genetic Associations with Mathematics Tracking and Persistence in Secondary School. npj Science of Learning
  6. Nogueira Avelar e Silva, R., van de Bongardt, D., Malanchini, M., de Graaf, H., Harden, K.P., & Raat, H. (under review). ­Psycho-social Predictors of Adolescents’ Sexual and Reproductive Health: A Comparison across the Netherlands, the United State­s, and Brazil. Journal of Adolescence.
  7. Wang, Z., Borriello, G., Malanchini, M. & Oh, W (submitted). The developmental trajectories of mathematics anxiety: A growth mixture model approach. Planned outlet: Developmental Psychology.

Manuscripts in preparation

  1. Demange P., Malanchini M., Mallard T., Grotzinger A.D., Ip H., Wertz J., Freis S., Domingue B., Mitchell C., de Zeeuw E., van Bergen E., Boomsma D. I., Biroli P., Tucker-Drob E., Belsky D., Harden K.P, Nivard M. G. (in preparation). Genetic associations with non-cognitive factors of educational attainment. Proposed outlet: Nature Genetics.
  2. Allegrini, A., Malanchini, M., Krapohl, E., Selzam, S., Rimfeld, K., & Plomin, R. (in preparation). A multi-polygenic score approach to the prediction of harmonized aggression. Proposed outlet: JCPP.
  3. Raffington, L.*, Malanchini M.*, Engelhardt, L.E., Grotzinger A.D., Sabhlok A., Briley, D., Madole J.W., Freis, S.M., Patton, N., Patterson, M.W., Harden, K.P. & Tucker-Drob E.M (in preparation). Genes moderate children’s and adolescents’ cortisol responses to psychosocial stress and to the day. Planned outlet: TBC.
  4. Malanchini, M.*, Voronin, I.*, Rimfeld, K., Wang, Z., von Stumm, S., Ritchie, S.J., Dale., P.S., & Plomin, R. (in preparation). Dissecting causal relations between cognitive ability and academic achievement through childhood and adolescence: The role of genes and environments. Planned outlet: Psychological Science.
  5. Malanchini, M. & Harden, K.P (in preparation). Understanding day-to-day interactions with online learning platforms in the context of higher education: A window for actionable interventions. Planned outlet: Npj Science of Learning.

*Joint first authors

Take a look at Dr Margherita Malanchini's Google Scholar citations

Supervision

A PhD opportunity to work with Dr. Margherita Malanchini will be available from September 2020. For informal enquiries, please get in touch with Dr. Malanchini at m.malanchini@qmul.ac.uk coming January 2020.

Public Engagement

I care deeply about engaging directly with the community. I have taken my research communication activities into schools and universities, reaching an eclectic public of students, parents, and educators. I have given talks in numerous schools in the United Kingdom and Italy, where my longitudinal research project is based. I have liaised closely with the press offices and prepared press releases to accompany my publications. This has resulted in my research being covered by numerous influential national and international newspapers including The Guardian, The Times and BBC Future. Below is a selected list of media coverage of my research:

May 2019 – Paper in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry covered in:

The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/may/13/teachers-assessing-pupils-could-replace-formal-exams-study-says

King’s College London Research Video Channel (United Kingdom)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDghBofRnkw&feature=youtu.be

January 2019 –Two features on my research on the Jacobs Foundation’s BOLD Blog

https://bold.expert/curiosity-and-openness-matter-more-than-diligence-and-perseverance/

https://bold.expert/using-daily-interactions-with-e-learning-platforms-to-predict-achievement/

September 2018 – Paper in Nature Science of Learning covered in:

The Conversation

https://theconversation.com/genes-shown-to-influence-how-well-children-do-throughout-their-time-at-school-102520

BBC Future

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180905-how-genes-influence-achievement-and-success-in-school?ocid=ww.social.link.twitter

June 2018 – Paper in Personality and Individual Differences covered in:

BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/education-44601198

Science Daily (United States)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180626113003.htm

Teen Vogue (United States)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180626113003.htm

The Times (United Kingdom)

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/narcissists-do-better-at-school-study-finds-59bsdnvqm

Business Insider (United States)

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-it-pays-to-be-a-narcissist-2018-6?r=UK&IR=T

February 2017 - Paper in Scientific Reports covered in:

Science Daily (United Kingdom)                               

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170221101035.htm

State of Mind (Italy)

http://www.stateofmind.it/2017/03/ansia-spaziale-e-matematica-eziologia/

MedicalXpress (United Kingdom)

https://m.medicalxpress.com/news/2017-02-maths-nervous-genes.html

OK Salute e Benessere (Italy)

https://www.ok-salute.it/psiche-e-cervello/lansia-e-genetica/

Medical Daily (United Kingdom)

http://www.medicaldaily.com/genetic-causes-poor-math-skills-genes-may-be-blame-doesnt-mean-youre-destined-411649

EurekAlert (International)

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/kcl-mam022017.php

Daily Mail (United Kingdom)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4247006/Are-genes-blame-struggles-math.html

La Razon (Spain)

http://www.larazon.es/sociedad/ciencia/perderse-con-un-mapa-es-culpa-de-los-genes-HG14565460

NU (the Netherlands)

https://www.nu.nl/gezondheid/4486422/angst-wiskunde-mogelijk-genetisch-bepaald.html

Twins Early Development Study Research Video Channel (United Kingdom)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sdRNpqcB6Y

April 2016 -Paper in Child Development covered in:

Goldsmiths University Press Office (United Kingdom)

https://www.gold.ac.uk/news/preschool-drawing-and-school-mathematics/

Twins Early Development Study Research Video Channel (United Kingdom)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9GHXEFBZYo