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My Visit at Centerdata, Tilburg

Updated: Mar 5

My name is Áine French and I am a second year PhD candidate in University College Dublin currently working as a Doctoral Research Scholar in Saint John of God Hospital as part of the Irish Research Council Employment-Based Post-Graduate Scheme. My research interest is primarily health psychology and specifically includes sleep, mental health, technology in mental health, substance misuse, and self-harm and suicide prevention. I was lucky enough to receive funding from COORDINATE for a Transnational Access Visits to visit Centerdata in Tilburg and conduct a project exploring the role of sleep on the course of young people’s mental health using the Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences (LISS) dataset.

I spent two weeks in Tilburg during which time I had the opportunity to meet and discuss research with other researchers and academics including Leila Van Imschoot (another PhD student who was also visiting), Marika de Bruijne (my contact person for the visit), Director Marcel Das, my academic collaborator Peter van der Velden, and other staff members at the research centre. As an early career researcher, I had limited experience with large datasets and everyone I met with was very helpful in supporting me in using the data to explore my research question. I was interested in identifying the role of sleep, loneliness, and physical activity in longitudinally predicting the onset or persistence of mental health difficulties in emerging adults (16-30). I am hoping that this research will help to provide information that can inform future guidelines for policy makers, practitioners, and young people living with mental health difficulties on the role of sleep, loneliness, and physical activity in relation to the early identification of risk and recovery of mental health difficulties. At the end of the two weeks, I had the opportunity to present preliminary findings and discuss my research with members of the Centerdata staff.

This visit gave me the chance to meet and collaborate with international academics to improve the quality of the research, learn from other researchers, and develop my professional network. Meeting with experts in the areas of mental health and longitudinal research has been invaluable in developing my learning and making connections that I hope may facilitate future collaborations. It also gave me the opportunity early in my research career to experience a research visit and to spend dedicated time to focus on developing and practicing my data processing and analysing skills. It allowed me to spend some time experiencing and learning about a new research environment.

The visit also gave me the opportunity to explore a new city in my spare time. The first week I did a walking tour of the city including the beautiful Spoorpark, the unique LocHal library, and even found some interesting street art. The second week it snowed which made for a very picturesque walk into work even if it was a little inconvenient for sightseeing!

This visit provided me with an opportunity to conduct research that I am passionate about, learn more about working with large datasets and conducting large-scale research online, and meet and learn from experts in a new environment and I would highly recommend to any PhD students considering it! And a final note of thank you to everyone at Centerdata for being so welcoming!


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