MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health
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PhD student profile
PhD students at the centre come from a range of different disciplines, united by their drive to improve child health and wellbeing. Jenny Woodman’s research career started with a degree in English.
For her PhD, Jenny is investigating the role of the primary care team in responding to cases of child neglect. Her interest in this topic first began during her initial studies in English, where she considered the representations of health in Victorian literature. "Interestingly, this is when the science of epidemiology was born. There was a lot of interest in infectious disease and population disease," she explains.
Jenny was specifically interested in child welfare. A post-graduate degree continued on the theme of health, looking at the representation of abortion in 20th century texts, both fictional and non-fictional.
Based on her interests and academic record Jenny got the opportunity to do some work experience with Professor Ruth Gilbert and then went on to work for her on a systematic review of child abuse in A&E departments after she completed her studies. On the job training was provided.
This lead on to work at EPPI-centre, part of the Social Science Research Unit at the Institute of Education (London), where she conducted systematic reviews on child health, some of them taking into account children’s views and experiences. She built up considerable experience in systematic reviews, although still had no formal scientific qualifications.
In 2008 Jenny was given funding for a 1+3 (a one-year Masters followed by three years in which to complete her PhD), again working with Professor Ruth Gilbert. She started by formalising her scientific training in epidemiology and public health, taking mainly methodological modules to complete her Masters in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Now in the final year of her PhD, Jenny highlights the fact that she feels she has really benefitted from the life and work experience of other PhD students in the centre who come from a range of disciplines and working environments. "Also, people here go out of their way to offer you opportunities if that’s what you want…They think about how they can help your career and go out of their way to make it happen for you…They expect a lot from you, but equally, you get a lot in return."
As well as providing her with opportunities to collaborate with leading researchers, both in the centre and beyond, working in the centre also gave her the chance to teach in India, contributing to a course on evidence-based decision-making for paediatricians and child health professionals.
Nearing the end of her studentship, the obvious question is ‘what next?’
"My PhD is the beginning, I hope, of a long career of working in this area. The field I’m working in is very under-researched, so [we’re] only just starting to ask the basic questions about what’s currently going on, which help us work towards answering questions about what we could change and what works. There are a lot of unanswered questions and I’d like to be involved in answering some of them."
Page last modified on 16 nov 11 12:38