What motivated you to come to Bristol and do this programme?
I have always wanted to work in the area of genetics and mental health and the Integrative Epidemiology Unit in the School of Social and Community Medicine really appealed to me as a place to pursue my research interests. I had already found a supervisor whose research I was particularly interested in, so when I saw the one plus three studentship advertised I immediately applied. I particularly liked the idea of doing mini-project rotations in the first year and also working in such a collaborative environment.
What is the key research question of your PhD research project and what have you found out so far?
My main PhD project will be investigating genetics and urban environments in the development of mental health and wellbeing. This project will build on current spACE analyses, something which my supervisor works on, using data from twin studies and other samples and will incorporate new findings from Twitter data, molecular data and the urban environment to predict phenotypes such as sleep quality and psychiatric disorders. My mini-projects so far have allowed me to familiarise myself with many aspects of genetic and epigenetic epidemiology which will be very useful for my main project.
Where do you think your research could lead and what are your future career plans now?
I hope that my research will allow for a better understanding of the contribution of the urban environment and genetics to mental health and wellbeing. This could have important implications in a clinical setting but hopefully it would also be useful to people on an individual level, to understand more about how the environment they live in can affect their mental health. I hope to remain within this field of research after completing my PhD and I would like to continue working in academia.