I am Aleksandra Przydrozna, currently a final year PhD student in the Department of Engineering. My research focuses on improving efficiency of space heating/cooling.
When I started a PhD, I had no idea what to expect. The ultimate goal was obvious – a PhD degree, but a path to achieving this was undefined and somewhat scary. After all, by signing a PhD contract, I committed to work on one project for the next 3+ years and I wanted to make the most of this experience.
It took me few months to get used to the new environment and the new line of work. By this time I have realised that patience and perseverance are key to pushing my research forward. Of course, it is easier said than done, especially when you are very passionate about your research and you can’t help but want to see some results immediately. For this very reason, a PhD can be filled with extreme `highs’ and `lows’. It is fulfilling and satisfying, when your experiments are working or you discovered something new and unknown. It can also be depressing at times, when you realise that your current direction leads to nowhere and you need to start over.
However, you are never alone in this process. You are surrounded by people who are going through this period as well and they can relate to your problems. I am very lucky to be a part of such a friendly graduate community in Murray Edwards. The young women, I have met in ME in course of last few years, are all very ambitious, talented and supportive. I believe that our friendships will stand a test of time and will last forever. The College keeps our community vivid by organising numerous social events and providing us with a Graduate Formal Hall every Tuesday, where we meet and exchange our weekly stories.
Overall, PhD research is a very unique experience with an infinite number of possible routes that can be undertaken in pursuit of some answers.
I joined the college as a Junior Research Fellow in 2014 from UCL where I specialized in the history of science and medicine, and East European Studies, so my first year in College has paralleled the passage of our 60th Anniversary blog. What I’ve noticed is a community which is hugely diverse, with staff, students and alumnae not only contributing to life in College and Cambridge, but also to wider society, with an incredible range of skills and interests. It has also encouraged me to reflect on my own aspirations and expectations as an early career researcher.
My work focuses primarily on the history of mental health and its treatment in the modern period up to the present. This is a topic with which a number of students are engaging with in their research essays and dissertations at Cambridge. As a result of this current interest, I recently began convening a Graduate Seminar on the area at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science for students to explore the literature surrounding historical development of psychiatry and psychology, as well as contemporary policy debates in mental health. In the Easter term we’ll be visiting the newly opened Bethlem Museum of the Mind in South London, which holds archival and gallery materials along with new exhibitions that I hope will stimulate further discussion and research on the topic.
The Junior Research Fellowship system at Cambridge offers a unique level of flexibility, allowing early career scholars to have autonomy over how they develop their skills and research in a way that is most appropriate for their career stage. The fellowship has provided the time and space to allow me to complete a co-edited volume entitled Psychiatry in Communist Europe, which will be coming out with Palgrave MacMillan later this year, along with a collaboration with the British Psychological Society on their forthcoming book project, Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives. …continue reading…
Few psychologists, even the social ones, take an interest in history. We often assume that the knowledge we have now is what matters, and that even a paper written ten years ago is out of date. In some cases, this may be true, but my recent work takes a rather different perspective.
I am a sociocultural psychologist, working especially on mental health problems. My interests focus on how people make sense of the world around them within their social groups and communities. How does shared knowledge develop and change? What impact does it have on our actions and interactions?
This poses a problem: it is easy enough to find out what people might think about mental health problems now: we can conduct surveys and interviews, analyse the media and so on. But how do we study the ways in which this might have changed from understandings fifty, one hundred or three hundred years ago? …continue reading…