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Dr Angel Lai
PolyU Scholars Hub

Dr Angel LAI

Assistant Professor


Dr Angel Lai is a developmental psychologist who joined the Department of Applied Social Sciences at PolyU as an Assistant Professor in June 2021. She received her doctoral training in social work at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis in the USA in 2014. As a developmental psychologist and social work researcher, Angel is interested in identifying ways to improve young people's positive development via the mobilisation of community/school resources and co-production of social and health services in the community. She specialises in mixed methods research, structural equation modeling, longitudinal analysis and ecological analysis.

Angel works closely with local young people and ethnic minority youths in Hong Kong and indigenous adolescents in rural China and Taiwan. She is the Principal Investigator of three extramural fundings, with one examining the establishment of social trust among young adults in Hong Kong, and two investigating the cultivation of ethnic identity for positive psychosocial and mental health in indigenous adolescents in rural China and Taiwan.

Community-wise, Angel is also working closely with several government and non-profit organisations, such as the Food and Health Bureau, Hospital Authority, Social Welfare Department and Home and Youth Affairs Bureau and Baptist Oi Kwan Social Services. She is highly involved in projects focusing on enhancing provision of integrated health and social services for vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other projects include improving the quality of life of patients who need ultra-expensive drugs, enhancing the delivery of health and social care services for chronic disease patients and older people in the community, and promoting the career development of young people in Hong Kong.

Angel also has working experiences in the non-academic field, including the public and philanthropic sectors. She has extensive networks in the public and business sectors, and schools and community organisations, which significantly facilitate the transfer of empirical findings from the academic community to front-line professionals and policymakers.

Education and Academic Qualifications

  • PhD in Social Work, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, U.S.
  • MA in Clinical Developmental Psychology, Eliot Pearson Department of Child Development, Tufts University, U.S. 
  • MSocSc in Advertising, School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, H.K. 
  • BA in Psychology and Marketing, College of Arts and Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, U.S.

Professional Qualifications

Psi Chi International Society of Psychology (U.S.)

Research Interests

  • Positive youth development
  • Global mental health
  • Cultural and ethnic minorities
  • Co-production and social capital

Grants (selected)

Principal Investigator. School Ethnic-Racial Socialization, Ethnic Identity, and Psychological Health in Context: Truku Indigenous Adolescents in Eastern Taiwan (Jan 2021-Jan 2023). Project Number: 12605320. Funded by General Research Fund (HKD $591,960).

Principal Investigator Ethnic Identity Development for Psychological Resilience in Yi Orphaned Adolescents (Oct 2018- Jun 2021). Project Number: 12603418 . Funded by: General Research Fund (HKD 481,981).

Principal InvestigatorPlatform Communities for the Co-creation of Social Trust in Young People via a Youth Neighbourhood Network: An Implementation Science Study (Apr 2020- Oct 2020). Project Number: SR2020.A2.009. Funded by Public Policy Research Funding Scheme (Special Round) (HKD 318,322).

Co-Investigator. Epidemic Intelligence and a data informed risk assessment system to inform policy decisions critical for maintaining systems control of COVID-19 in strategies to enhance recovery (April 2021-Present). Principal Investigator: Professor E.K. Yeoh. Commissioned by Food and Health Bureau (HKD 15 million).

Co-Investigator Evaluation of Kwai Tsing District Health Centre (Sept 2019-Sept 2022). Project Number : 136603387. Principal Investigator: Professor E.K. Yeoh. Commissioned by Food and Health Bureau (HKD 25,252,930).


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