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Current PhD Students

  • Joanna Blodgett, UCL MRC Studentship
  • Nasri Faith,  UCL MRC Studentship
  • Fran Harkness, UCL MRC Studentship
  • Antoine Salzmann, UCL MRC Studentship
  • Sam Searle
  • Han Seo, UCL MRC Studentship
  • Alison Sizer, ESRC Studentship
  • Lorna Smith
  • Charis Bridger Staatz, UCL-Birkbeck MRC DTP Studentship 
  • Hannah Taylor
  • Alex Tsui, Alzheimer Society Studentship
  • Brian Wong

Jo Blodgett, UCL MRC Studentship

Research interests

  • Physical capability
  • Balance
  • Cognitive function
  • Ageing
  • Life course epidemiology
  • Frailty

Current research
Balance is an underappreciated aspect of physical capability and well-being, despite underlying the majority of day to day tasks. Although there is a clear relationship between the ageing process and balance ability, there is little evidence examining how life course factors contribute to balance.

My research project will use a life course perspective to explore how factors in early and mid-life contribute to balance performance from age 53 onwards in the MRC National Survey of Health and Development.

2015-2017: Research Associate, University of Manchester/ North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust
2014-2015: Research Assistant, Geriatric Medicine Research, Dalhousie University, Canada

2012-2014: MSc in Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, Canada
2009-2012: BSc Honours in Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Canada


Fran Harkness, UCL MRC Studentship

Research interests

  • Psychological resilience for physiological outcomes 
  • Public health
  • The discord between health knowledge and health behaviours
  • Social determinants of health
  • Functional ability in older age

Current research
There is evidence that perceived personal control is associated with healthy ageing. Particularly, a conceptualisation of it termed, ‘personal mastery’ (Pearlin, 1978). However more work is needed to establish the lifelong determinants of mastery, as well as clarification of the mediators and moderators most relevant in the association between mastery and downstream outcomes.

My research will use the MRC National Survey of Health and Development (1946 British Birth cohort). This unique dataset will enable me to investigate lifetime influences on perceived personal control, and its own influence on health and wellbeing in older age.

2014-2015: Research Worker in Primary Care, Warwick Medical School
2010-2013: NHS Psychiatric Recovery Worker

2011-2012: Introduction to Counselling and Psychotherapy, Tavistock and Portman NHS
2008-2009: MSc in Research Methods, Goldsmiths, University of London
2005-2008: BSc in Psychology, University of Sheffield


Han Seo, UCL MRC Studentship

Research interests

  • Neurocognitive decline in old age, Neuroimaging (insight 46)
  • Multi-ethnic Epidemiology (SABRE)
  • Cardiac Imaging (CMR)

Current research

Cardiac MRI quality control (Supervisor : Dr Gaby Captur)

2018: Visiting Scholar at SNU Medical School, Department of Public Health, Seoul, South Korea.
2017: Imaging Analyst at IXICO plc, London

2016-2017: MSc in Advanced Neuroimaging at UCL
2009-2013: Pre clinical Medicine at Nottingham Medical School

Alison Sizer, ESRC Studentship

Research interests

  • Cognitive ageing / decline
  • Social determinants of health
  • Lifecourse epidemiology

Current research
Research indicates that non-employment is associated with health outcomes. It is possible that a similar association will exist in relation to cognitive function and decline in early-late midlife, with those who have experienced non-employment for longer showing lower cognitive function and faster rates of cognitive decline. My current research uses longitudinal data from the National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) and English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) to investigate the association between cognitive function/ decline and non-employment, and also whether cognitive function/ decline varies with the type of activity carried out when non-employed (e.g. in education/training; home maker; unemployed and actively looking for work; sick/ disabled; other)

MSc Social Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL
MA Education and International Development , Institute of Education, University of London
BSc Geography, St Andrews University


Charis Bridger Staatz, UCL-Birkbeck MRC DTP Studentship

Research Interests:

  • Obesity 
  • Body Composition
  • Inequalities in Health and Social Determinants
  • Life Course Epidemiology
  • Obesogenic Environment
  • Public Health
  • Early Life Risk Factors

Current research
Since the 1980s there have been increases in obesity in the UK and across the westernised world alongside changes to the environment that may be termed "obesogenic". These increases have been most strongly observed in more recent generations, with the younger born being exposed to an obesogenic environment from an earlier age. Moreover, inequalities in obesity have been increasing to a greater degree among more recently born cohorts and at the upper end of the BMI distribution. Overweight and obesity is associated with greater risk of all-cause and cause specific mortality, with body composition being an important element of this. 

The UK has a number of well-established nationally representative birth cohorts that allow comparison of obesity across generations, and how changes have occurred in the way the individual interacts with their environment in the development of obesity inequalities. Using the National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) along with other British Birth Cohorts, I intend to investigate the significance of body composition as an element of obesity across generations, and how environment-individual interactions have changed to result in the emergence of inequalities in obesity. 

2016-17 Honorary Research Position at University of Bristol, School of Social and Community Medicine

2013-16 BA Human Sciences, University of Oxford