Published on 27 Nov 2023

Choosing a University in Singapore Strong in Interdisciplinary Research

As Singapore’s premier teacher education institute, the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NIE NTU, Singapore) holds a pivotal role in supporting the nation’s education service, providing rigorous graduate education for both local and international students.

A Dancer’s Journey to Exercise

As a former dancer, Dr Alicia Marie Goodwill, an assistant professor at NIE NTU, Singapore, has always been fascinated by how the human body and brain work together. Reflecting on her own Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) journey, Dr Goodwill shared that it all started with her exploration of neural adaptations to exercise during an honours year. “I learned techniques to non-invasively measure how the brain responded to different types of exercise and from there, I pursued my PhD applying these techniques and concepts in older adults and chronic stroke patients,” she recounted. This marked the beginning of a rewarding journey in research, focused on solving complex problems with real-world applications.

At NIE, Dr Goodwill’s research interest focuses on exploring the intricate relationship between exercise, dietary factors, and brain health. She employs innovative neurophysiological techniques and behavioural assessments to understand the functional adaptations in the brain in response to various lifestyle interventions.

Innovative Research for a Better Tomorrow

At the forefront of cutting-edge research at NIE, Dr Goodwill combines non-invasive brain imaging and stimulation techniques with behavioural outcomes to understand the impact of exercise and diet on brain health.  Her research aspirations go beyond academic recognition. Dr Goodwill envisions a future where her work translates into tangible benefits. “Similar to the guidelines we have for cardiovascular health, my research may one day contribute to the development of exercise and nutrition programmes, and guidelines for optimising brain health in the community,” said Dr Goodwill.

To positively impact midlife adults, a critical demographic for preventing later-life cognitive decline, Dr Goodwill believes it is vital to study the factors hindering adults from exercising or maintaining a healthy diet to enhance adult learning and prevent cognitive decline in late life. The findings will inform the implementation of effective lifestyle interventions.

Challenges and Triumphs

Research isn’t without its challenges. Communicating complex research techniques to participants, especially those from ageing and clinical populations, to retain them throughout the various stages of interventions, requires skill and patience. “I believe teaching and presenting to different audiences help build confidence in these areas, which is an important skill for effective research communication,” advised Dr Goodwill. 

Her commitment to making her research accessible and impactful has helped her overcome hurdles through effective time management and meticulous planning, ensuring her work maintains a high standard. “I had a working thesis through my PhD and periodically updated it. This approach helped me publish all my chapters by the time I submitted my PhD, which was invaluable advice I received and now, I impart to my students,” shared Dr Goodwill.

Impact Beyond Academia

The impact of Dr Goodwill’s research extends far and wide. Her work has been published in prestigious international journals, earning recognition and citations from peers in her field. More importantly, her research resonates with the wider community, where she conducts workshops to share and discuss research findings.  Her research has also been featured on various Australian news platforms. “The most impactful and rewarding aspect is seeing our research being recognised by the general population that we ultimately hope it will benefit, in addition to the academic population,” said Dr Goodwill.

Satisfaction of A Researcher

Beyond her academic achievements, such as publications and grant awards, Dr Goodwill finds the feedback she receives from participants whose lives have been positively influenced by her work to be the most gratifying aspect of her research journey. The sense of making a meaningful contribution to people’s lives is a driving force behind her dedication to research.

As a professor, Dr Goodwill also plays a pivotal role in mentoring students, guiding them toward their research excellence. Her passion for witnessing students evolve into independent researchers underscores her commitment to shaping the next generation of researchers.

For those considering a graduate programme in research, Dr Goodwill offers valuable advice: pursue what excites you, align your passion with your long-term goals, and cultivate strong relationships with your supervisors. “My supervisors were instrumental in my PhD success and academic career. It is important to have good mentors throughout your research programme,” shared Dr Goodwill.

Join NIE on the Research Journey

The National Institute of Education is dedicated to fostering the next generation of research and academic leaders.  Its comprehensive graduate programmes, including master’s and doctoral options, serve as a launching pad for students to delve into their passions, expand their expertise and make pioneering contributions to their respective fields.

To find out more about Dr Alicia Marie Goodwill and the research by the Physical Education and Sports Science Academic Group at NIE, please visit

If you aspire to expand your knowledge through research in a progressive and advanced environment like NIE, applications for the August 2024 intake are open until 31 January 2024 for research programmes.

For more information, visit  The National Institute of Education (NIE) is an autonomous institute under the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. It has been consistently ranked among the top 30 educational institutions in the world and the top five in Asia by the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking.

This article was published in with the title "Choosing a University in Singapore Strong in Interdisciplinary Research". Read the original article here.