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Institute of Health and Wellbeing Early Career Researchers' Blog

Posts Categorized / Profcast

  • Apr 13 / 2016
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Profcast

The Profcast: Professor Rory O’Connor

Rory

In today’s Profcast we speak to Professor Rory O’Connor, Chair in Health Psychology and Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow.

Why did you become an academic?

That’s a good question.  From pretty early on in my life, I wanted to be a psychologist. As an identical twin of an identical twin I’ve always been fascinated by nature vs nurture and psychology more generally.  Yes, to clarify, my father was an identical twin and I am an identical twin and my twin, Daryl, is also a professor of psychology – at Leeds University (we’re mirror twins actually).  Also, when I was 11, I met a clinical psychologist, who really impressed me and I have been pretty much hooked on psychology ever since (I had the good fortune to meet said same clinical psychologist more than ten years later while doing my PhD at Queen’s University Belfast which was great).  It was some time later before I decided that I wanted to become an academic rather than a clinician. I remember really enjoying doing a group research project during the 2nd year of my undergraduate degree; this really whetted my appetite for research, which was further reinforced by doing my final year dissertation (an experimental study on learned helplessness and depression). I loved the process, thinking of a problem, formulating it as a question and then systematically attempting to answer it.  I have also always enjoyed teaching and again, I had really positive experiences of teaching/supervision as a postgraduate and of developing an extra-mural course on mental health at Queen’s with two colleagues during my PhD. Continue Reading

  • Mar 30 / 2016
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Profcast

The Profcast: Professor Kate O’Donnell

Kate_O'Donnell

For our first Profcast of 2016, we speak to Kate O’Donnell, Professor of Primary Care Research and Development at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow.

Why did you become an academic?

I never consciously “became” an academic; I think I rather fell into it. My first degree was a BSc in Immunology at Glasgow University. It was an exciting time in immunology (probably always is) –  T cell receptor being identified, HIV was isolated. So there was a real buzz and I wanted to be part of that, so I went on to do my PhD in Immunology. What I then gradually realised over several years was that I loved research and the academic tasks of writing and communicating, but I wanted it to be nearer “people” than bench research allowed me to be. So I took a couple of career turns and finished up as a primary care researcher. It’s taken me a long time to feel I can say I am a primary care academic and not feel a fraud. Continue Reading

  • Sep 30 / 2015
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Profcast

The Profcast: Professor Anne MacFarlane

Anne MacFarlane 08

Today we’re interviewing Anne MacFarlane, Professor of Primary Health Care Research at the Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick.

Why did you become an academic?

When I was younger, several people who were close to me were unwell and spent a lot of time visiting GPs and hospitals. I was so struck by the fact that, often, their interactions with doctors and nurses were adding to their distress: for example, things were not explained properly or their worries were dismissed. I became fixated by this, particularly because I was very fortunate to have an excellent GP who never let my family down in these ways – Dr. Bill Shannon who went on to become the first Professor of General Practice in Ireland at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. So, I kept thinking that these negative healthcare encounters were unnecessary and avoidable. I wanted to know more about why this was happening and to understand more about people, health and healthcare in general. First I opted for a psychology course and took all the health related options going. Then, through my postgraduate research in Health Promotion, I realised I was more satisfied with sociological literature and its accounts of health issues. I also got completely interested in research methods and, particularly issues of rigour in research. I thoroughly enjoyed my teaching experiences and, so, by the end of year 3 I was hooked and determined to get more work as a health services researcher in primary care. Continue Reading

  • Sep 02 / 2015
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Profcast

The Profcast: Professor Carl May

In our latest Profcast IHAWKES speaks to Professor Carl May, Professor of Healthcare Innovation at Southampton University.

Why did you become an academic?

There are many different ways of plotting this story but the simplest, and perhaps the one that is nearest the truth, is that I found that I just loved the work. I did as a student and I do now as a professor. These are fantastic jobs to have. I can’t think of another career where I would have had the opportunities that I’ve had as a university researcher and teacher. My collaborators are often my friends and some of them are very good and close friends indeed.  Together we do great work. This may seem a bit rose-tinted, but it’s true for me. Continue Reading

  • Apr 08 / 2015
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Profcast

The Profcast: Professor Graham Scambler

In our latest Profcast IHAWKES speaks to Professor Graham Scambler. Emeritus Professor of Sociology at UCL.

Why did you become an academic?

It was unplanned drift, but it suited my temperament. Here was an opportunity to read, think, teach and write, a job moreover that – then – offered security, a decent income and substantial autonomy in relation to work practice.

If you were not an academic what would you be?

That’s a tricky question since I would probably opt to do it all over again, despite the changed ecology of academia. Does freelance author count? I’ve never appreciated being ‘directed’ or ‘managed’. A UCL colleague once told me I had ‘oppositional-defiance disorder’, and she might have had a point. Otherwise it’s a toss up between social worker and full-time activist, both tough briefs amounting these days to sociology-in-practice. Continue Reading

  • Mar 06 / 2015
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Profcast

The Profcast: Dr Marilyn Mcgee Lennon

The Profcast is back with this fantastic interview from Dr. Marilyn McGee Lennon, Senior Research Fellow in Human Computing Interaction at Strathclyde University:

Why did you become an academic?

I always loved researching stuff at school – before I really knew what research was. I never really minded what the topic was – as long as I was investigating, reading, gathering evidence, producing reports and disseminating results. It was only when I was then at University studying myself (starting at 16) that I thought that I could be a really good academic. I also love teaching (shh don’t tell anyone) which is unfortunately a little rare these days. I truly believe that if work hard enough at it I can get almost anyone to understand something. That can be quite an annoying trait to my friends and family but comes in really handy when assigned a challenging new course to teach. In my early career I always apologised for being an academic and told many people “don’t worry I am not a real academic” because I never wanted anyone to think I was aspiring to be a stuffy old professor in an ivory tower. It was only when I began to meet and work with other forward thinking, dynamic and diverse academics that I thought – maybe it is okay to have an academic identity after all and to not be afraid to say yes – I am an academic and I love it! Continue Reading

  • Feb 18 / 2015
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Profcast

The Profcast: Professor Danny Dorling

In this week’s Profcast we’re thrilled to have Danny Dorling, Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford, and expert on social inequalities, answering our questions.

Why did you become an academic?

I fell into it – the key thing was doing a PhD in Newcastle in 1989 – of the four of us who did one then in my year group, three are now professors.

If you were not an academic what would you be?

No idea – there is a big range of possibilities – on the basis of what other people who did my degree now do – I’d probably be middle management in a public sector utility. Continue Reading

  • Jan 07 / 2015
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Profcast

The Profcast: Dr. Gozde Ozakinci

A new year, a new profcast! Today we’re talking to Dr. Gozde Ozakinci, Lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of St Andrews.

Why did you become an academic?

For me, it was a natural attraction. I liked being around people who were excited by ideas about how humans/animals ‘worked’. I also had the fortune of attending a beautiful university in Istanbul (http://www.boun.edu.tr/en_US). I just fell in love with the idea of teaching and doing research with enthusiastic and smart students  in a beautiful environment. And initially (like many psychology students I guess), I thought I’d also combine it with clinical psychology practice. I had done some volunteer research assistance in some labs in my university in health psychology. And I really liked it. But I was not ready to give up my ‘I want to be a therapist’ goal yet. But doubts were creeping in. So, after I finished my degree, I took a year out and went to Cardiff and spent a year in a psychiatric hospital as a community service volunteer. There were 6 of us there and we lived in the hospital too! Oh the stories I can tell but I’m digressing… And there I realised my passion for psychology was in the health domain and not in the clinical world.. I did an MSc  in health psychology at UCL and had the fortune of being supervised by Profs John Weinman and Charles Abraham. And the rest is history! Continue Reading

  • Nov 12 / 2014
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Profcast

The Profcast: Dr. Jason Gill

In this week’s Profcast, Dr. Jason Gill, Professor of Cardiometabolic Health at the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow answers our questions…

Why did you become an academic?

I was fascinated by science at school and loved the concept of doing an experiment to find the answer to a question.  It seemed much more interesting than just learning something from a book.  So, from a pretty early age I had a vague idea that I would like a career in ‘research’ but I was not really sure what that meant in practice.  But I guess I am a somewhat ‘accidental academic’.  I was reasonably good at triathlon when I was young (competed at the World Championships as a Junior) and went to Loughborough University to study Physics and Sports Science, largely because of its sporting reputation. I trained two or three times per day throughout most of my time at university and would, on occasion, be leaving to go training as some of my fellow students would be coming home from the night before.  Being at university was a convenient way to essentially be a full-time athlete with a bit of studying on the side. But in my final year of my undergraduate degree, I realised that I was not really talented enough to compete at the highest level, so ‘retired’ from competitive sport and found that I suddenly had loads of time on my hands.  I turned the time and effort that I had been putting to training to focusing on my studies and ended up getting a First in my degree.  Because I of this, I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to do an MSc (this was in the days that these still existed).  I had nothing better to do, so thought why not spend another year as a student.  During my MSc project, on the effects of exercise on lipoprotein metabolism, I realised that this was really what I wanted to do with my life, so my project supervisor, Prof Adrianne Hardman, and I submitted a PhD studentship application to the BHF to continue this work.  The application was successful, and three years later I had my PhD.  I then came to Glasgow for my first post-doc job in 2000 and the rest was history….  Continue Reading

  • Oct 29 / 2014
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Profcast

The Profcast: Professor Ronan O’Carroll

The IHAWKES are excited to post the first blog in our brand new series, the Profcast! Today, Ronan O’Carroll, Professor of Psychology at Stirling University answers our questions on life as an academic. We hope you enjoy it.

Why did you become an academic?

I initially wanted to be a Clinical Psychologist and it was hard to get on a training course, so I studied for a PhD, purely as a means of increasing my chances of getting a Clinical training place. I applied for a PhD studentship in the MRC Brain Metabolism Unit in Edinburgh, entitled “The behavioural effects of androgens in men”. We conducted a number of placebo‐ controlled studies investigating the effects of testosterone on mood, sexuality and aggression in men. I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Kinsey Institute international PhD dissertation prize in 1984. This came with a $1,000 prize, which I recall was particularly welcome at the time, as my wife and I desperately needed to buy a bath to replace a shower as we had just had our first baby. I really enjoyed my PhD studies. After I qualified as a Clinical Psychologist, I worked for a couple of the years in the NHS adult mental health services, but I realised that I didn’t want to be doing CBT from 9-5.30pm, 5 days per week. I saw an advert for a job working in a University in Canada helping to run a Clinical Psychology training programme, applied for that, and have been in academia ever since. However, I still do clinical work, 1 session per week, and I really enjoy it. Continue Reading