Zhen Rao

Dr Zhen Rao

BL MPhil PhD

  • Position Fellow Junior Research Fellow
  • Subject areas Psychology Education
  • School Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Personal website PEDAL Centre
  • Department Education
  • Email zr230@cam.ac.uk
  • Department link Education

Zhen is a researcher at the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

Zhen Rao

Zhen completed her PhD in 2019 at the University of Cambridge investigating peer pretend play and children’s emotional experience, expression, and regulation. Between 2019 and 2021, Zhen worked as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, developing a new line of research on parental mental health and early parent-child play. Zhen is undertaking a Research Associate role at the PEDAL Centre (Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning) at the Faculty of Education.

Zhen’s research has centred on understanding the links between play, learning, development, and wellbeing. She is particularly interested in social play (e.g. parent-child play, peer play) and how it is related to parents’ and children’s emotions and mental health. Zhen has examined play across a wide range of ages (from early to middle childhood) and social and cultural contexts (e.g. home, school, and playground settings, both in the UK and in China).

Zhen’s current work includes examining how parent-child play develop over time, and how their play behaviour is associated with long-term child behavioural and emotional outcomes. She is also investigating how to support teachers to promote play-based learning at schools. You can find details of Zhen’s research and publications on the Faculty of Education's webpage

What's on

Professor Helle Porsdam

Humanities Society: Science as a Cultural Human Right

24/05/2022 at 17.45

Join Professor Helle Porsdam for an evening talk which focuses on the right to science – a little known but potentially powerful human right.

Ellie Bladon, PhD student in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Science Society: Parental care: an evolutionary case of “use it or lose it”

27/05/2022 at 17.45

Phenotypic plasticity enables animals to flexibly adjust their behaviour to their social environment – sometimes through the expression of adaptive traits that have not been exhibited for several generations. The ability to revive these ‘ghosts of adaptations past’ could prove beneficial for populations living in a changing world.

Decorative image.

Working on Your Dissertation

28/05/2022 at 10.00

This workshop will cover several aspects of formatting and proofreading a dissertation.

Kill or Cure poster

Art exhibition: 'Kill or Cure'

28/05/2022 at 10.00

Lethal or life-giving? Wolfson's exciting contemporary art exhibition explores the potential of animals, plants, and substances from the natural world to ‘Kill’ and/or ‘Cure’ (open to the public Saturday and Sundays, 10am - 5pm).

Daniel Phillips playing violin and Victor Wang playing Piano

Music Society Lunchtime Concert: Daniel Phillips & Victor Wang

28/05/2022 at 13.30

Join us live in the Lee Hall for an hour-long lunchtime concert of violin and piano, performed by Daniel Phillips and Victor Wang.