Post-doctoral launching fellow
Children, young people & families, Health inequalities
University of Bristol
Health inequalities, young people, intersectionality, health risk behaviours, policy relevant research, mixed methods
I will engage with local authority and policy partners throughout my fellowship to foster knowledge exchange and stakeholder input into my advanced fellowship applications. I will also speak to practice partners about organising a relevant placement.
Public Involvement & Engagement
I plan on engaging with young people and those that support them to inform my advanced fellowship applications. This will likely be through PPI sessions where we discuss major health problems for adolescents, inequalities and what terms like ‘intersectionality’ mean to young people.
Laura's career journey
Laura’s academic journey started by embarking on a BA in Sociology at Newcastle University in 2009. Following a period working in retail and travelling in South America, she moved ‘down south’ to undertake an MSc in Social Research Methods at University of Bristol. Laura really enjoyed her Masters, particularly her dissertation project which investigated young men’s use of geospatial app Grindr.
During her Masters, Laura worked part-time in a not-for-profit research consultancy. She was working with professional associations such as British Medical Association and Law Society Scotland on projects that included qualitative work on how to open up pathways for young people to get into the professions. She went full-time at the consultancy after her Masters, was promoted to Senior Researcher and supported a small team of research assistants.
But Laura was keen to move into more applied and health-based work and had dreams of doing a PhD. A job came up for a Research Associate role at the University of Bristol in the Centre for Public Health. Despite knowing very little about public health, Laura felt her Sociology and mixed methods research background would stand her in good stead. Although she wasn’t successful in getting the job, what was offered was the opportunity to do a PhD in the department on adolescent multiple risk behaviour. What commenced over the next four years was an amazing learning experience, where Laura enhanced her research skills and became interested in health inequalities, mixed methods and young people’s health. Laura published 3 papers from her PhD, attended several conferences, got to work with colleagues internationally and engage with a range of young people.
Following her PhD, in 2020 Laura continued working in the Centre for Public Health as a Research Associate. She worked on a realist review of community mobilisation interventions and obtained funding to run engagement workshops with young people in disadvantaged areas of Bristol about health inequalities. This project was one of 12 to be chosen for presentation at the UK Public Health Science Conference in Glasgow and received great feedback for the creative approach collaborating with a local young artist.
In 2021 Laura was awarded an ESRC Policy Fellowship to work as an embedded academic fellow in the Scottish Government. The goal was to establish policy networks and enhance better knowledge exchange between academia and policy. Her work there focused on intersectionality and women’s health inequalities as part of the Women’s Health Plan. She undertook 3 projects to support policy action in the Plan, including interviewing young women about discrimination and health. Her commitment to engaging with marginalised young people and recruiting using a structured sampling frame and collaborating with community groups meant that data were rich and less-heard voices were included. Laura is currently writing up the work from this fellowship into academic papers and continues to engage with the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland partners about the findings.
Laura intends to use the time during her Launching Fellowship to develop a competitive application for at least one advanced fellowship award. Her ideas, which have formed over her research career, around mixed methods research on health inequalities and intersectionality in young people are beginning to be shaped toward this goal. Laura will also be publishing a collection of papers that had to be paused during her secondment and looking to expand her networks across research, policy and practice.
- BA hons in Sociology
- Newcastle University
- MSc in Social Research Methods
- University of Bristol
- PhD in Public Health
- University of Bristol
- ESRC Policy Fellowship
- Scottish Government
- Post-doctoral launching fellowship
- NIHR SPHR