Student &ECR Spotlight – Meet Sofia Strömmer, Chartered Psychologist and a Research Fellow in Behavioural Science

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

I completed BSc (hons) in Psychology and Neuroscience from Keele University, UK. I then completed MSc degrees in both Counselling at Keele and Clinical Psychology at Bangor University, UK. I completed my PhD in Psychology at Bangor University, UK, in 2015. My PhD explored the nature and role of motives and gains in exercise behaviour. I am currently a Chartered Psychologist and a Research Fellow in Behavioural Science at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton.

How would you briefly describe your current research/job to someone who is not familiar with your field of study/work? What is your main research interest?

My research interests are in motivational aspects of health behaviour change and how motivation for health behaviours arises and is maintained. My current work focuses on adolescent health and how we might better align health agendas with existing adolescent values to foster autonomous forms of motivation and maximise engagement in interventions and with health behaviours.

What are the main barriers you encounter/experience when conducting research, or what information/skills do you lack to conduct high quality research?

Research is hindered by the increasing demand on researchers’ time, a lot of which is taken up by administrative and managerial tasks as opposed to research. Dedicated writing time is particularly challenging to carve out. I’m at the point in my career where I need to start securing my own research funding, and grant writing is a daunting task for which I feel I need more training and new skills.

What could help you as a student/ECR to further develop/grow in your current position?

Resources and knowledge sharing about grant writing and project proposals. We all face a highly competitive market and the academic career track does not adequately prepare you for the demands of grant applications.

What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition and/or physical activity field? 

We are growing towards a more holistic and nuanced understanding of human behaviour which has a huge potential in benefiting the health behaviour sciences. We no longer think of human behaviour as mechanistic and are moving away from largely cognitive or “logic” based solutions to health behaviour change problems. We recognise that a lot of human behaviour is driven by emotions and this lens holds promise for future developments in this field.

You can get in touch with Sofia on [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @sofia_strommer