Early life and adolescence

Cassey Muir

NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) Doctoral Student, Cassey Muir tells us about how Fuse has helped develop her career in public health.

Tell us about your journey with Fuse – where did you start and where are you now?

I joined Fuse in 2017, as a research assistant on a project called FOrwaRD, aiming to explore the link between food, obesity and risky drinking among young adults. We ran co-production workshops with young adults and practice and policy partners to facilitate the development of intervention strategies that promoted healthier eating and drinking among young adults. Fuse was instrumental in helping us run one of these workshops within a Fuse Quarterly Research Meeting. Towards the end of my contract I was supported by colleagues within Fuse, to apply for an NIHR SPHR Doctoral Studentship. I was successful in my application and interview and started my doctoral studies, based within Fuse at Newcastle University, in October 2018. I am now in my final year, and hope to continue pursuing a career in public health research once I finish my PhD.

What is the focus of your work?

I am interested in public health research focusing mainly on children and young people’s mental health and resilience, as well as health behaviours and co-production techniques.

My doctoral research focuses on understanding and exploring the lived experiences, perceived impacts and coping strategies of young people whose parents misuse substances. I have undertaken a qualitative systematic review (searching for research evidence such as in-depth interviews), and I am now exploring the emerging themes with young people via remote interviews. In addition, I am interviewing practice and policy partners, as well as young people to explore how to promote resilience amongst young people whose parents misuse substances. This research will hopefully enable further work aiming to co-produce an intervention that promotes resilience.

How has being part of Fuse helped you to achieve your aims?

Throughout my time as a research assistant and now during my doctoral studies, being a member of Fuse has given me multiple opportunities to present my research to a wide range of audiences. I have had the opportunity to lead a Fuse Quarterly Research Meeting, co-author a post on Fuse’s award winning blog, and present a poster at a meeting of the Fuse Early Life and Adolescence Research Programme. Not only have I had the opportunity to present, but also to develop my skills in presenting by attending training courses organised by Fuse. I also won Fuse’s best abstract in public health and was invited to give a plenary presentation at the UK Congress on Obesity.

While Fuse may be a virtual Centre, its connections have enabled me to develop my research networks. I have collaborated on exciting projects with Fuse doctoral students and researchers based across the five universities in the North East. Events and meetings have also been useful for developing relationships with organisations, that have participated and been involved in my research projects. I hope to continue utilising Fuse’s great partnerships throughout my PhD and future career.

Fuse’s membership to NIHR SPHR has further expanded my network, and opportunities to collaborate across organisations in England. I am a co-applicant on a recently funded project exploring and understanding access to community-based mental health and addiction services for severe and multiple disadvantage service users and providers. This is a collaboration of multiple organisations and SPHR members.

Being a member of both Fuse and NIHR SPHR, has allowed me to develop other professional skills that will undoubtedly support my future career in research. I was successful in receiving a small grant to supervise an intern based at Fuse, funded by the School. This internship was around capacity building in public health research, and was linked to my PhD project. The successful applicant held a remote 8-week long internship over summer 2020 and wrote a blog post on their findings and reflections. I really enjoyed the opportunity to develop my leadership skills and supervisory experience with the support and guidance of more senior Fuse members.

I am also currently representing Fuse/NIHR SPHR PhD students in the Fuse Communications Group, as well as in the Researchers Network (ResNet) Group for SPHR early career researchers. Being a representative has allowed me to support the organisation of key annual meetings and training events.

Finally, being part of Fuse has helped me explore my research interests across public health, develop my professional research skills, and develop supportive and collaborative relationships with colleagues.

What’s next for you?

After completing my doctoral studies, I would like to stay within public health research, continuing to advance my skills as an independent researcher and collaborating with practice and policy partners. I aim to apply for postdoctoral funding/fellowships, exploring further the development of a resilience intervention for young people whose parents misuse substances.

Last modified: Fri, 08 Apr 2022 14:02:40 BST