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Spotlight: Daisy Fancourt

19 March 2018

This month we welcome Dr Daisy Fancourt to the Spotlight, a Senior Research Associate and one of the BBC's New Generation Thinkers.

Daisy Fancourt, BBC New Generation Thinker

What is your role and what does it involve?

I’m a Wellcome Research Fellow in the Department of Behavioural Science and Health. I’m currently analysing data from cohort studies including ELSA, NCDS and MCS exploring associations between arts, culture and community engagement and health including depression, social adjustment, cognition and dementia.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I joined UCL in August 2017 but I previously did my PhD in psychoneuroimmunology at UCL looking at the impact of community music programmes on mental health, stress hormones and inflammatory responses. In between I did a postdoc and then a fellowship in the Centre for Performance Science, which is part of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College. The Centre is a partnership with the Royal College of Music and I worked on a range of clinical trials exploring the effects of music interventions on conditions such as postnatal depression.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

In 2017 I set up an Early Career Research Network for arts, health and medicine with an award from the British Academy. It’s been brilliant to see the response from ECRs: the network has had over 700 researchers join from 30 countries and now runs events fortnightly across the UK, has a podcast series and we’ve established an international training course in partnership with the University of Florida. ECRs are welcome to join: www.ArtsHealthECRN.com

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

I’m currently working on two Citizen Science projects gathering new data about arts engagement and health. The first is a BBC project called ‘The Great British Creativity Test’ which is currently gathering data (aiming for 100,000 responses) to develop a new psychological model for how creative activities affect our emotions. The other project is with NASA, launching in April, and will explore the impact of virtual arts experiences on mental health.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album: Anything Goes - Cole Porter

Film: Les Choristes  

Novel: Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

Who would be your dream dinner guest?

Mary Berry. Hopefully she’d cook too.

What is your favourite place?

A tiny village in Burgundy in France called Chateauneuf where I spent much of my childhood. It’s the total opposite of London!