Colombia has suffered through many internal violent conflicts that have been the results of differing political opinions to drug wars with cartels (Meernik, 2019). There have been many attempts to bring peace to Colombia throughout its history (Meernik, 2019). The most recent signing of a peace agreement in 2016 between the Colombian government and the FARC brought an end to one of the longest-standing conflicts in the region (Barrios Sabogal & Richter, 2019). These long-standing conflicts have resulted in severe consequences for the civilian population with an estimated 220,000 losing their lives, 6 million displaced, and 27,000 kidnapped (Franco et al., 2006; Tamayo-Agudelo & Bell, 2019). Exposure to these traumatic events can be observed in the physical and psychological health of the population (Franco et al., 2006). Studies of mental health in Colombia have shown 40% of the population meet the DSM-IV criteria for any mental health disorder throughout their lifetime (Chaskel et al., 2015). The purpose of this project is to further understand PTSD in this population and examine the risk/resilience factors for the development of this disorder.
My project is funded by The Department for the Economy (DfE) studentship
What is your ideal Research outcome?
The ideal outcome for this project would be to discover key areas of risk and resilience within the population that the Colombian government can use to inform strategies for the prevention and treatment of PTSD. These findings can then be used within other countries that have experienced armed conflict similar to Colombia.
Professor Cherie Armour, Dr Donncha Hanna and Dr Martin Robinson
Why did you choose this PhD and why at Queen's?
As part of my undergraduate degree at Ulster University, I completed a placement year as a research assistant within QUB. During my time here I was able to explore the university facilities, meet PhD students, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the university. This placement year cemented my decision to pursue a career in psychological research. Specifically, within the area of psychotraumatology as this was the focus of the research team I worked with. I found myself drawn to trauma and how individuals respond to it so when the opportunity arose for me to apply for a PhD place at QUB for this project I immediately took it.
How have you been supported at Queen's?
I have only started at QUB within the last two months (at the time of writing this) and I can already tell the university does its utmost to support its students. There are numerous training opportunities available to me within the graduate school. There are weekly seminars in the School of Psychology where experts from a range of research areas deliver presentations on their research.
My supervisory team is extremely supportive, and I feel like I can always speak to them when I need guidance whether that’s to do with my PhD project or another area I may be struggling with.
In what ways have you developed at Queen's?
Although I am only a couple of months into my PhD I already feel like my skills as a researcher has grown tremendously through the training opportunities and modules I have undertaken.
Can you describe the postgraduate community in the School and at Queen's?
All PhD students have access to a large office in the School of Psychology where you can freely come and go when you need to work. The other students here are all friendly and supportive there are multiple events organised throughout the year for PhD students. Events like the PsychHike acts like a mini-conference to discuss your research with fellow PhD students.
Where do you hope your PhD will lead?
I am hoping my PhD will lead me into a job as a post-doctoral researcher and enable me to pursue a career in academia.
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