November: a month of new staff at DECIPHer (part 2)

PictureThe 2013 November cohort: (L-R) Joan Roberts, Jemma Hawkins, Nilufar Ahmed

Following last November’s blog post welcoming a recent influx of new DECIPHer staff, it seemed appropriate to continue the tradition and give this November’s three new staff members a blog post in which to introduce themselves.

Nilufar Ahmed joined DECIPHer as research associate and project manager on the CHETS II project exploring changes in children’s exposure to secondhand smoke since 2008. Nilufar has previously set up culturally sensitive mental health services across London and worked as research fellow at Queen Mary’s University, St George’s University of London and Keele University on studies including conceptualisations of pain, access to health services, mental health and identity. Nilufar’s PhD is a longitudinal study drawing on her multidisciplinary background of psychology, sociology and geography to analyse the intersectionality of place, ageing and gender for first generation migrant women in London. The study involved conducting in depth interviews with the same group of women ten years apart. Having predominantly worked with qualitative data, Nilufar is looking forward to the challenge of working on a large quantitative research project.

Joan Roberts
has joined DECIPHer as the manager of the Schools Health Research Network. Joan started her working life as a primary school teacher in London, before working on a national smoking education resource for the Health Education Authority in England. It was while presenting on this project at a conference in Wales that she met her husband! When she moved to join him in Cardiff she started a twenty year role as a health education consultant. She has worked extensively for national and local health and education bodies including the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales, particularly with the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes. She is still a National Quality Award assessor of schools in this scheme.  

Other work undertaken has linked to research into young people’s health, including a long-lived association with DECIPHer on such projects as Kids Adults Together and Project SFP Cymru. She sees her work on the Schools Health Research Network as an exciting new challenge that will draw on her cumulated experience of school health issues.

Jemma Hawkins is a new research associate for PHIRN, the Public Health Improvement Research Network, and will be working on the development of new research proposals for the evaluation of complex interventions. She will be responsible for identifying research opportunities, developing partnerships within policy and practice, and contributing to the writing of research funding applications. Since starting, Jemma has been supporting the set-up of a new study that is adding a drug-prevention adjunct to the ASSIST smoking-prevention intervention, and is also taking forward the development of an intervention for group motivational interviewing in teenagers (GROMIT).

Jemma previously worked as a research officer in the School of Health Sciences at Cardiff Metropolitan University, where she also completed her PhD. Her research has focused on the benefits of outdoor physical activity in natural environments (aka ‘green exercise’) for health and well-being in later life. Prior to this Jemma worked for the NHS as a mental health practitioner offering brief therapeutic interventions to patients diagnosed with mild to moderate mental health conditions. More recently she has also been working under an honorary contract with Public Health Wales to support an evaluation of the use of activity monitors for clients of the National Exercise Referral Scheme.

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