Doctoral School

Supporting the mental health of doctoral researchers

1 April 2018 - 31 January 2020

Understanding the Mental Health of Doctoral Researchers: Have your say
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The first stage of the Office for Students funded project Understanding the Mental Health of Doctoral Researchers is now underway. We are looking for doctoral researchers from Sussex and across the UK to get involved in this important project by completing a short, anonymous online survey.

Project News

7th September 2018: SMaRteN-ing up about student mental health: U-DOC invited to the research network pre-launch event

The 6th September marked the launch of SMaRteN - a new research network being led by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) in London which aims to improve our understandings of student mental health... Read more

About the project

The project's overarching aim is to provide a sustainable best practice model for the sector to address the challenge of doctoral researcher mental health. In particular it will focus on the aims of prevention and early intervention. Secondary aims include the development and implementation of new practice for supporting doctoral researchers; enhanced staff and student training across the institution, and working in partnership with statutory health services.

The project is led by Dr Jeremy Niven, and is arranged into five work packages:

  1. A research package led by Dr Cassie Hazell and Dr Clio Berry
  2. A supervisor training package led by Dr Jeremy Niven
  3. A researcher development package led by the Doctoral School, comprising
    • Accessible training and guidance to enhance doctoral researchers' awareness of mental health and the support on offer
    • Development of a specific training module for staff in the professional services who directly support doctoral researchers
    • Support for specific doctoral researcher-led interventions
  4. Liaison with local statutory NHS services, led by Dr Jeremy Niven
  5. Evaluation and dissemination, led by Dr Jeremy Niven

The project will run from 1 April 2018 until 31 January 2020.

Administrative support for the project is provided by the Doctoral School. Please contact Paul Roberts, Assistant Director of the Doctoral School if you would like to find out more about the project.

You can also read the Sussex news story which was released following the award.


Key contacts

Dr Jeremy Niven, Director of Doctoral Studies (Life Sciences)

After completing a PhD in locust limb control at the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK, I stayed in Cambridge to work as a post-doc on fly photoreceptors. In 2005, I moved to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama to work as a Research Fellow in the Laboratory of Evolutionary Behaviour and Neuroscience before returning to Cambridge to take-up a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. In 2011, I moved my laboratory to the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex. View Jeremy's web profile.

Sophie Valeix, Project Co-ordinator 

I have first studied veterinary medicine and epidemiology in low and middle income countries in France. I then came to Sussex in 2012 to undertake a Masters’ degree in Science and Technology Policy, followed by an interdisciplinary PhD in Development Studies, working on collaboration between public health professionals in Ghana (2013 to 2018). I am now pursuing research interests around the mental health of young researchers while working 2.5 days per week on this project at the Doctoral School. View Sophie's web profile.

Laura Chapman, Researcher Development Officer

I began working at Sussex in 2013 as a Researcher Development Co-ordinator, providing support for the Researcher Development Programme and it's associated funding schemes and research student experience projects. I completed a BA (Hons) Psychology at Sussex in 2008 and I recently completed my MRes in Psychological Methods at Sussex on a part-time basis, in addition to my role within the Doctoral School. View Laura's web profile.

Doctoral Researcher Representatives

Justin Crow (School of Engineering and Informatics)

Justin completed a Batchelors degree in Computer Science at Sussex, and also holds a degree in Fine Art from the University of the Arts London. He is a doctoral researcher in the department of Informatics, working within the Text Analytics Group and his PhD is focused upon event detection and situational awareness in social (text) data.  View Justin's web profile.

Josh Hutton (Science Policy Research Unit)

Starting with a Bachelors in Biomedical Sciences, Josh's career at Sussex has spanned seven years. After obtaining a BSc he entered a 1+3 programme funded by the ESRC at SPRU. He obtained an MSc in Science and Technology Policy with a thesis entitled "Funding Biodefense: Gaps in the fence?" which focussed on fiscal gaps in biodefence funding in the US for the first decade of the 21st Century and developed a historical narrative partially explaining the path dependencies in biodefence funding in the US. His current focus as a doctoral researcher is on the processes by which so-called "Lessons Learned" reports are produced in the aftermath of the Ebola Crisis of 2014.  View Josh's web profile.

Yasser Kosbar (School of Education and Social Work)

Yasser is a doctoral researcher in the Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER), with a background in international development policies and work experience in gender equality in public life. He has worked with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Economist Intelligence Unit and the German Parliament (der Bundestag) Yasser’s research interests lie in the area of gender inclusive leadership with specific scope on the Middle East and North Africa and his PhD explores the complexity of constructing personal development relationships (i.e. mentoring, peer relationships, coaching, action-learning and structured networks) and its effects on the success and retention of early career female researchers.  View Yasser's web profile.

Lina Skora (School of Psychology)

Lina completed a BSc in Psychology (St Mary’s University) and an MSc in Social Cognition with Neuroscience (University College London), followed by a Research Assistant position at Warwick University's Mind and Action Research Group. She has a background in cognitive psychology and emotion theory, with a particular interest in their integration. At Sussex, Lina is researching the influence of interoceptive signals on unconscious and conscious associative learning, under the supervision of Dr Ryan Scott, Dr Daniel Campbell-Meiklejohn, and Prof Anil Seth. Lina is also interested in Bayesian approaches to perception and cognition, adaptive behaviour, and brain-body interaction in emotion and self. View Lina's web profile.

Rebecca Teague (School of Life Sciences)

Rebecca is a first year doctoral researcher at the Genome Damage and Stability Centre at Sussex. She is researching the role of PrimPol, a primase/polymerase enzyme with a role in DNA damage tolerance, under the supervision of Professor Aidan Doherty. Rebecca completed an MSci degree at the University of Birmingham in Human Biology; her Master’s thesis investigated CatSper activation in human spermatozoa. During her degree, she undertook a placement year at the University of Sheffield in collaboration with the Centre for Stem Cell Research. View Rebecca's web profile.

Marie Tuley (School of Law, Politics and Sociology)

Marie is a doctoral researcher in gender studies/sociology. She was awarded a 3-year PhD scholarship from the ESRC (SeNSS) in 2017. Her research is about the gendered impact of migrant integration policies and practices. Marie is interested in (gendered) identities at the (trans-) local and (trans-) national level. She has a background in anthropology and development studies, as well as languages and literature. Prior to joining the University of Sussex, she worked at the Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where she has presented research papers in international peer-reviewed conferences. View Marie's web profile.

Research package contacts

Dr Cassie Hazell, Visiting Research Fellow (Psychology)

Cassie is a Visiting Research Fellow with the University of Sussex, having previously worked for BSMS, the University of Sussex, and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Cassie now works in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford. In 2017, Cassie worked with Prof Sam Cartwright-Hatton on a review of the mental health support available to students at Sussex, and it became evident that little is known about the mental health needs of PhD students. In collaboration with Dr Clio Berry Cassie began exploring the prevalence of mental health problems for PhD students, and the barriers to providing and accessing support for these. View Cassie's web profile.

Dr Clio Berry, Research Fellow (Psychology)

I'm a Research Fellow working with Professor David Fowler as the Trial Manager for the NIHR HTA funded PRODIGY Trial - 'Prevention of long-term social disability amongst young people with emerging psychological difficulties'. I have worked with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust since 2007, supporting the delivery of research projects and mental health trials focused on understandings of and interventions in youth mental health, psychosis and voice-hearing. I am really excited to be working with colleagues on our HEFCE-funded project to increase understandings of PhD student mental health more broadly and explore preventative and early intervention strategies. View Clio's web profile.

Professional services contacts

Katherine Hegarty, Acting Head of Counselling

Katherine Hegarty is Acting Head of Counselling at the University Counselling Service. She is also a qualified counsellor/psychotherapist who is registered with the UK Council for Psychotherapy and is an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. View Katherine's web profile.

Paul Roberts, Assistant Director of the Doctoral School

My career has focused on the higher education sector in the UK and USA. My work has included student development activities, project management and research and enterprise roles. I currently lead a team of professional staff who support the implementation of all elements of the University of Sussex’s research strategy relating to undergraduate research, doctoral research and postdoctoral research provision. View Paul's web profile.

Doctoral School

T: 00 44 (0)1273 87 7767