Brief description of the visit
My name is Robert Eves and I am currently a postdoc at Bielefeld Universität, Germany. As part of the COORDINATE Transnational Access Visit programme, I visited Dublin and specifically University College Dublin (UCD) in late September 2022.
The project’s topic
My research project is looking to test two competing developmental models, diathesis stress and differential susceptibility, in four large longitudinal cohorts. One of these longitudinal cohorts is the fantastic Growing up in Ireland study, which has comprehensively followed the lives of thousands of children born in Ireland during the early noughties. Our research is looking to systematically test how early life factors and environmental factors influence our long-term development and whether they are consistently found in children from different countries. I believe the findings are extremely enlightening and will make for a very interesting publication.
Engaging in further academic activities
As well as working on my research project, I was able to engage in further academic events. I attended research meetings with the Resilience & Health Laboratory and the PATH (Psychosocial Approaches To Health) Lab, receiving some great feedback on current and future research ideas. I also had the chance to visit St Patrick’s mental health hospital, where we learnt about the history of psychiatric care in Ireland and its link with Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s travels). Following his death in 1745, the wealth from his estate was used to establish St Patrick’s mental health hospital, the first of its kind in all of Ireland. Their historical data surrounding patient recovery from the 1800s was a particular favourite of mine but maybe that’s not really a surprise!
The academic collaboration
As my academic collaborator at UCD, I worked predominantly with Dr Niki Nearchou, head of the Resilience & Health Laboratory. Coming from different backgrounds and specific fields of interest, it is always useful to hear the opinions of others. Niki’s expertise on the use of Psychometrics was invaluable and has certainly improved the research we are currently performing.
Sightseeing in Dublin
When not at the university, I went to see some of the more traditional tourist places in Dublin, which of course included the Guinness Storehouse. An underappreciated fact is thatin order to test the quality of the raw materials, the Student’s t test was created there by the brewer William Gosset in 1908. As someone who improved both statistics in science and beer quality, I think he definitely gets a thumbs up from me! When not drinking, I am also quite a keen runner. On the Saturday, I headed south of Dublin to Wicklow and ran the 19km ecotrail race. It was certainly hillier than my now hometown of Berlin but the scenery was spectacular, somewhere I would recommend to anyone.
Overall, I had a fantastic time visiting UCD and Dublin as part of the Coordinate TAV programme and I would recommend it to any researchers interested in secondary data analyses. From data on mental health in the 1800s, to beer in the 1900s, to finally child development in the 2000s, the diverse range of data and experiences I had in Dublin will not be quickly forgotten!