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Ke (Koko) Zhou

PhD student

Places & communities programme, Efficient and equitable health systems theme

University College London (UCL)

Research Interests

Koko is interested in dynamics of organisational decision-making, institutional complexities, systems thinking and interventions, trajectories of change of healthy and sustainability outcomes, and simulation modelling.

Koko's blog

Six steps of the systems thinking approach in policy design and why it matters?Six steps of the systems thinking approach in policy design and why it matters?

Koko's Q&A

  • What has been your career journey so far?

    Prior to my PhD I specialised in system dynamics during my Master programme at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) in US. I still remember how fascinated by the idea of systems thinking and systems interventions started then. Following the passion, I started to support research projects at the Social Systems Design Lab at WashU.

  • Why did you choose to do a PhD in public health research?

    I chose to do a PhD when I recognised the gap between linking decision-making and delivery of public health outcomes. Participatory workshops are helpful as a starting point to engage stakeholders to understand the system, but a deeper exploration of organisational decision-making and institutional complexity is needed to sustain the delivery of good social missions. I saw the wonderful opportunity with Dr. Nici Zimmermann’s work on organisational change and urban complexities, and it interested me immediately.

  • What is your research focused on?

    Exploring organisations’ challenges to address grand societal issues or wicked issues is the key in my research. I focus on the multi-level organisational and institutional barriers and paradoxes embedded in the decision-making. To explore this, I combine participatory research and simulation methods.

  • Why is it important?

    Organisational decision-making is a very crucial component in the ‘change-over-time’ chain, however, it is often limitedly researched in the public health field. Decisions favouring public benefits could be costly and the changes often take years to be observed. To together address wicked issues, understanding organisations’ decision-making is the key.

  • What do you like about being a part of the NIHR School for Public Health Research?

    I like every bit of the school: the team, peers, and quality of research. And most importantly, the inter or cross- disciplinary perspectives among all the projects. The school also emphasise knowledge exchange and public engagement which are all very important to deliver high impact academic work.

  • What skills have you learnt and/or are hoping to learn as part of your PhD?

    I have learnt the importance of communicating research with wider audience. I hope to commit to do more of public communication when the research outcomes can be shared. I also hope to collaborate more with my peers throughout the PhD to bring more of systems lens.

  • What do you hope to do after completing your PhD?

    I would want to keep researching in organisational and institutional dynamics embed in the decision-making process that influences the (sustained) delivery of social missions. Simulation models are quite promising to explore different trajectories. I also want to explore further how we use participatory workshops as decision-making support tool.

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