Student & ECR Spotlight – Olivia Alliot’s work is focused on various aspects of young people’s physical activity

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

I started out at the University of Edinburgh, where I completed my undergrad in Applied Sports Science and a master’s degree in Physical Activity for Health. I then moved to the University of Cambridge working as a research assistant on a family-based physical activity intervention, before completing my PhD which explored the role of socioeconomic position in adolescent physical activity. Since finishing my PhD, I have been working as a Research Associate (still at the University of Cambridge) on a qualitative study exploring the impact of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone on school travel.

What is your main research interest?

I would say I have a broad range of research interests, but that my research to date has focused on young people’s physical activity specifically in relation to socioeconomic inequalities and now with a focus on active travel.

How do you explain your current research/job to friends and family?

It varies a little depending on who is asking and since the Covid-19 pandemic, as public health lingo has become more familiar to everyone. I usually start by saying that I work in public health, with the aim of helping young people become more active and explain that our focus is on preventing the development of long-term health conditions like diabetes, rather than looking at infectious diseases.

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

I see public engagement and involvement as a very essential part of the research process. However, I have found it challenging to have the capacity and resources to input into this area as much as I would like.

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

I think as an ECR, my main goal in terms of growth is developing my research network. Learning from how other institutions and research groups work is something I really value. My current research focus is on population level health interventions and I would like to develop my understanding of the application of such approaches to other regional and global contexts.

What’s something you have learnt about your research or yourself that was unexpected?

That I enjoy writing! Being dyslexic I struggled with essay writing a lot at school, but academic writing has really helped grow my confidence.


If you would like to get in touch with Olivia, you can do so via her Twitter and LinkedIn handles.