SFC Saltire Emerging Researcher SER Programme
Targeted placement opportunity
EU Host HEI: Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development, University of Zurich
Host: Dr Denis Ribeaud and Professor Lilly Shanahan
Scottish partner: Dr Aja Murray, University of Edinburgh
Placement title: Combining ecological momentary assessment and longitudinal designs to illuminate lifespan development: A focus on mental health
Type of placement: In person
Proposed placement dates: August 1st – December 2022
The Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development is home to the Zurich Project on Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood (z-proso), an ongoing longitudinal study of development from age 7 to 23, with a next data collection wave planned in 2022 when participants are aged 25. It is associated with an international multi-disciplinary collaborative network of researchers interested in different aspects of the development of the development and wellbeing of young people (the zIReN network).
Among other sub-studies, when participants were aged 20, a subset completed a 2 -week ecological momentary assessment (EMA) protocol which collected data on momentary experiences in the flow of daily life. This component of z-proso was led by collaborators from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. A second wave of EMA data collection is planned to follow the next main data collection wave when participants are aged 25.
The purpose of this placement is to provide new insights into and build research capacity in mental health from a developmental perspective, in line with the ‘Children and Young People’ and ‘Health’ Scottish National Performance Outcomes. It will, via collaboration with z-proso and its EMA sub-study, provide an opportunity for an early career researcher to gain experience in: i) the design and implementation of longitudinal and EMA studies with young people ii) advanced longitudinal analysis, including methods for the analysis of EMA data, whilst also deepening and expanding the links between Scottish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the international network of z-proso and the Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development more broadly.
The successful candidate will work under the mentorship of two of the principal investigators of z-proso (Dr Ribeaud and Prof Shanahan from the University of Zurich) and the lead of its EMA study (Dr Murray, University of Edinburgh).
The topic of the collaboration can be adapted according to the research interests of the successful candidate within the constraints of the data that has been and can feasibly be collected in the next wave of z-proso and its EMA add-on (see: https://psyarxiv.com/pt53v/) ; however, is likely to relate to one of the following:
- The links between long-term developmental histories and day-to-day mental health and emotional processes (e.g., the links between cumulative victimisation over development and stress reactivity in adulthood)
- The links between ‘place-based’ factors such as green/bluespace, pollution, weather conditions in daily life, and mental health
- The reciprocal links between daily life experiences and long-term development
- Scale development and validation for EMA research, especially for measures of momentary mental health and wellbeing
The successful candidate will spend 5 months at the University of Zurich (UZH) in which time they will, under the guidance of their local mentors and the collaborating partner mentor at the University of Edinburgh undertake the following activities:
- Pre-register a research study using existing z-proso main cohort and/or EMA data (month 1)
- Receive instruction in advanced statistical analysis techniques for longitudinal and EMA studies from the collaborating partner at the University of Edinburgh (month 1)
- Gain insights into designing and conducting EMA and longitudinal studies by observing and assisting with the day-to-day running of a major longitudinal study with an EMA sub-study during a data collection phase (months 1-5)
- Help launch the z-proso international early career researcher (ECR) network, designed to foster collaboration between international (including Scottish) ECRs who work with z-proso and build capacity through access to mentorship and training opportunities (months 1-5)
- Implement the research study from the proposal developed in (1), applying advanced statistical analysis techniques and writing up findings for publication in a peer-reviewed journal (months 2-5)
- Present findings at the next z-proso international network conference, which includes both academics and stakeholders.
- Help organise a pre-conference online session at the next z-proso international network conference devoted to fostering new collaborations (including ECR exchanges) between Scottish (drawing from the Scottish HEI partners network) and European research studies (drawing from the z-proso network), centred around longitudinal and EMA research (month 5)
- Produce a blogpost to be widely disseminated with the help of the project mentors, describing the research findings for a public audience (month 5)
The successful candidate will be given opportunities to engage in the dissemination process through, for example, presentation of their findings at the next international z-proso network meeting in Frieburg, September 2022.
Professional Development Opportunities and Benefits to the researcher
The successful candidate will be provided with mentorship from a local mentor at the University of Zurich who will provide insights into how to design and implement EMA and longitudinal research and on effective research leadership. The local mentor will also provide access to collaborative networks in Europe (within the Jacobs Center itself sits extensive multi-disciplinary expertise in child development). The successful candidate will also receive mentorship and training from the Scottish HEI partner, who will provide training on advanced statistical analysis techniques for EMA and longitudinal data, as well as guidance on career planning relevant for a Scottish/UK context.
The successful placeholder will gain insights into how to design and conduct longitudinal and EMA studies. They will gain skills in advanced statistical analysis, multi-disciplinary collaboration, research leadership, and engagement with non-academic audiences such as clinicians and policymakers. They will expand their collaborative network and have opportunities to develop new partnerships with researchers across European countries and disciplines.
About the host
The Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development, University of Zurich is dedicated to interdisciplinary, developmental research that will ultimately improve the lives of young people.
The successful candidate will be hosted at the Jacobs Center where bench fees will be waived.
Workspace will be made available for the successful candidate. They will be invited to join the z-proso ECR network and given access to training provided by the Scottish HEI collaborating partner, including in advanced statistical analysis.