Get to know PhD Student – Lucy Bird


In this month’s newsletter, we would like to introduce PhD student, Lucy Bird from the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

Lucy’s recently submitted thesis, ““We despair”: Understanding the effect of political despair on personal well-being and actions to promote social change.” received outstanding results from the examiners.

We asked Lucy about her research, how did her supervisors support her, where her career will go in the future.

Tell us about your research

My research considered why people feel despair about socio-political issues such as climate change and racial inequality, and what the impacts of experiencing despair are. I was specifically interested in how despair impacts people’s well-being and their willingness to engage in actions to bring about progressive social change.

What was been one of the most enjoyable parts of the journey?

Going to conferences where I was able to meet incredible researchers and had the opportunity to present my own work. These conferences were such inspiring and engaging times that showed me the real power that research can have. The conferences were also a lot of fun and I made so many great connections (plus travelling to Europe in their summer was a pretty great).

How did your supervisors support you during your candidature?

My supervisors are the main reason I was successful in my PhD. My primary supervisor Professor Emma Thomas has always been the most supportive, encouraging, and inspiring supervisor. Not only did Emma support me academically throughout my candidature, but she also mentored me professionally and gave me countless opportunities to develop. Emma taught me many new skills, pushed me to tackle challenges like complex statistical analyses and helped me improve my research and communication skills immeasurably. Additionally, my associate supervisor Professor Michael Wenzel always gave me such fantastic advice, was cool, calm, and collected when I was not, and always gave me the help I needed when I was struggling.

How has your PhD influenced your future career? Where do you see your career heading in the future?

At the start of my PhD, I didn’t plan to stay in academia or research but due to having such a supportive group of colleagues and having some great experiences throughout my candidature, I am hoping to stay in research (for now at least). I am currently doing a post-doc and plan to apply for other exciting research opportunities that present themselves. I have always been passionate about social and climate justice, and now I am able to translate that passion into research that helps to try and bring about positive social change.


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