In this blog, transdisciplinary placement (TDP) holder Andrea Mazzeo tells us about his career journey and what made him decide to do a transdisciplinary placement.
I have worked as senior Research associate at the Lancaster Environment Centre of the Lancaster University since May 2023 and previously at the University of Birmingham as Research Fellow from March 2018. My research focuses on the study of the key elements driving air pollution at regional level in the UK and evaluating the impact of climate and mitigation policies on present and future levels of air contamination.
What made you decide to complete a TDP placement?
The decision to embark on a TDP was aimed to broaden my perspectives within the field of environmental sciences. My specialisation in air pollution and numerical models had equipped me with substantial technical expertise, but the opportunity offered by the NIHR SPHR TDP scheme promised to make a step ahead in the quality and breadth of my research. The integration of environmental science with public health research was a compelling proposition, as it represented a novel intellectual endeavour that held the potential for significant contributions to both domains.
What have you enjoyed about your placement?
The intricate interplay between air quality and public health, although familiar in principle, has revealed itself in new and enlightening ways during the course of this placement. The possibility to link results from numerical simulations with health data and, in particular, with hospitalisation data was of profound interest to me because it let me see the impact of my study in a different light and how it may be used for different purposes. This intersection of environmental and public health research has been deeply fulfilling for me and very motivational. Furthermore, the guidance and support from the SPHR team and my supervisor, Dr. Bartington, have been instrumental in making this journey enjoyable.
What transferable skills have you been able to bring from your background discipline to your placement?
From my background in environmental sciences, I brought a set of transferable skills that have been invaluable during the placement. My proficiency in data analysis and numerical modelling, honed through previous work in air pollution research, proved to be highly applicable in the context of public health research. These skills facilitated the assessment of how environmental factors impact health outcomes, demonstrating the practical value of a multidisciplinary approach.
What skills from your placement have you gained that will be useful in your career?
The placement has provided me with essential skills that will undoubtedly shape my future career. In particular, it has fostered a deeper understanding of ethical research practices and the responsible handling of sensitive health data. The importance of meticulous planning and efficient coordination has become increasingly evident. These skills are poised to be integral in guiding the responsible conduct of research in public health and environmental sciences.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for a placement?
For individuals contemplating a placement akin to the one I have experienced, I would offer the following advice: embrace the unknown. Approach the opportunity with an open mind, prepare to engage with new perspectives and bridge the divide between distinct fields of research. Seek guidance from mentors and colleagues, for this is a collaborative endeavour where learning from one another is a pivotal component. The journey is, without a doubt, intellectually rewarding, and has the potential to reshape one’s career trajectory in the most meaningful of ways.