Post-doctoral launching fellow
Children, young peoples & families programme, Public mental health programme,
University of Bristol
• Factors and interventions within educational settings that contribute to promoting positive mental health and preventing poor mental health – a systematic literature review.
• Mental Health Peer Education Project.
• Investigating the feasibility of delivering a resilience building programme to parents of secondary school children.
• Effect of adverse childhood experiences on adolescent depression, anxiety and self-harm: An analysis in the ALSPAC cohort.
• Relationship between early school experiences and adolescent self-harm: an analysis using the ALSPAC birth cohort
Mental health of children and young people and an understanding of early life experiences and the effect of these on later mental health. David is also interested in what schools can do to improve the mental health of their pupils.
Public Involvement & Engagement Plan
David plans to engage with multiple Young People Advisory Groups in Bristol and surrounding areas to gather their views of the areas of their lives that are affecting their mental health most acutely. He aims to explore their understanding of resilience and how he can engage young people in developing the tools and strategies of resilience. David will also be engaging with parents, youth workers, teachers and members of the community with a particular focus on hard to reach populations that don’t normally engage with the public health research community.
David's Academic Career Journey
David began his academic journey by embarking on a BA in Psychology at University College Cork, Ireland. Following on from this, he worked in the care industry for 5 years in various roles supporting clients with intellectual disabilities and spinal injuries. He ventured back into the academic arena by pursuing a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience in the University of York.
“It took me a while to get back into the academic world but soon found my feet and remembered why I loved studying the brain and human behaviour.”
David worked as a research assistant in York and Cambridge over the next year or so before securing a PhD in the Experimental Psychology Department in Bristol under Prof. Marcus Munafo and Dr. Angela Attwood. His PhD was focused on investigating the potential of glassware to reduce population alcohol consumption. This was a fantastic intellectual experience. He truly learned to be a scientist during this time in an environment driven by intellectual honesty and rigorous attention to detail. He learned to work in a transparent way through open science practices that are integral to how he conducts his science to this day.
David was fortunate enough to secure some short term postdoctoral opportunities within the Department. A 6-month Fellowship to develop ideas for future research on the back of his PhD findings and a 3-month joint project between the University of Bristol and Cambridge Cognition to develop a tool for GPs to measure the impact of anti-depressants on social cognition and emotion recognition. Working with industry was a great experience for him and gave him an insight into the challenges of academia and industry working together given different incentives and working environments.
David’s next step was a slight detour into the world of public health when he secured a 2 year post as a Research Associate in the School of Population Health Sciences. This role had a large training focus and David was involved in multiple projects with different methodological approaches.
“I feel very fortunate in my career to date to have been exposed to multiple research environments which have allowed me to develop as a researcher. Through working in different disciplines using various approaches, I am well equipped to approach the rest of my career in a flexible and dynamic way and move the needle in improving population health”.
This research experience alongside excellent mentorship from within the Centre of Public Health gave David the confidence to apply for a Postdoctoral Launching Fellowship which he was lucky enough to achieve. His current aims within this role are to develop a research programme that aims to improve the resilience of children and young people and reduce the burden of poor mental health in this age group. He will pursue this through working with existing projects in the School of Public Health Research and by engaging with young people and various stakeholders to develop his future research plans. Working with the public in this way is key to David’s research and he wants his work to be constantly informed by and responding to real world problems and experiences. This is with a view to securing long term funding in the form of a NIHR Advanced Fellowship.
“The Launching Fellowship is a fantastic opportunity to develop my research to address the epidemic of poor mental health in children and young people and to equip them with the tools to be resilient to the pressures of modern living.“
- NIHR SPHR Post-doctoral Fellow
- University of Bristol
- Research Associate in Public Health
- University of Bristol
- PhD Experimental Psychology
- University of Bristol
- Research Assistant
- MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge
- MSc Cognitive Neuroscience
- University of York
- BA Psychology
- University College Cork