Case study

Researcher — Dr Tom McAdams

Tom is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London where he is studying the development of disorders in child and adolescence…

I work on a project aimed at understanding how emotional and behavioural disorders are transmitted from one generation to the next.

When trying to understand the role of parental behaviour in child development, we need to find a way of 'removing' the effect of genes from our research. One of the best ways of doing this is to use samples of twins and their children. We hope that our research will inform the design of methods to reduce the development of anxiety disorders.

I first became interested in psychology when I took it as an A-level at college. I decided to study it at degree level at the University of Wales in Bangor, finding I was drawn to the idea of becoming a researcher. I also developed an interest in behavioural genetics techniques, which led me to seek out a Masters degree in psychological research methods at the University of Sheffield. Having obtained further funding, I then entered the PhD programme.

In the final year of my doctorate, I applied for a postdoctoral fellowship to work with colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry. When my PhD funding ran out, I had to take a couple of research assistant posts, but eventually heard back from the Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC) that I had been awarded a fellowship. This gave me a one-year post at King's College London, which has now become a further three-year postdoc.

Over the course of the past year, I have written up several research papers and conducted new analyses of data. I have started working on an international project set up by my supervisor, collaborating with colleagues in Sweden and the USA. I have presented my work at international conferences in Canada, Spain and the UK.

As well as conducting and presenting my own research, I have also helped postgraduate students in our department when conducting analyses and writing papers. In the near future, I intend to take this a step further and start supervising and teaching students.

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