Research Team

Ken Mavor (Project Leader)

Ken has a long history of interest in the nature of self and identity and the interplay between social and personal representations of self. He worked on his PhD (from the University of Queensland) concurrently with a position as lecturer in research methods at the University of Southern Queensland, and then moved to the Australian National University in 2003.  While at the ANU, Ken worked both in the Research School of Psychology and in the ANU medical School.

While in the Medical School, Ken became very interested in the link between self and identity processes and the well established high prevalence of stress as a threat to medical student and doctors wellbeing. This interest led to a series of small projects and research papers, the supervision of Kathy McNeill’s PhD in Clinical Psychology, and a passion for taking the issue beyond a focus on prevalence to explore the underlying processes that would inform efforts to improve the wellbeing of health workers.

Ken currently teaches research methods and social psychology at the University of St Andrews. Although now based in Scotland, Ken maintains an adjunct senior lecturer position in the ANU Medical School and has ongoing supervision of PhD students at the ANU as well as continued research collaborations.

Caoimhe Ryan (Postdoctoral Research Associate)

Caoimhe joined the project as a research associate in May 2016. She has a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of St Andrews (2016) and MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology from the London School of Economics (LSE, 2007).

Caoimhe is interested in questions of self, identity, and wellbeing. Her doctoral thesis investigated the role identity and representation in grassroots anti-deportation campaigns. Prior to her doctoral training she worked on two consecutive research projects (CSO-funded) at the University of Stirling (2007-2010) and the University of Strathclyde (2011-2012) investigating psychological factors associated with suicidal behaviour and repeated self-harm.

Caoimhe also currently works as a qualitative research associate at the Institute of Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, where she carries out research under the Incorporating Perspectives and Experiences (IPE) research theme within the Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment (HEHTA) unit.

Aisha Al-Sulaiti (PhD student 2017- )

Aisha comes from the State of Qatar and will be working on the project examining identity and medical work-related stressors for doctors, trainees and medical students. She will also be expanding the questions to look at cultural identity and differences across culture in terms of training culture and/or host culture. She will explore how stressors are dealt with over and above the shared medical culture. Aisha will also be extending the research to the experience of nurses and the specific stress that nurses face as well.

Aisha holda a Bachelor degree in General Pharmaceutical Science from King Saud University (2000); a Masters degree in Healthcare Management from Manchester University  (2011); and a Masters in Social Science Research Methods from Cardiff University (2016).

The MSc research (at Cardiff) included elements of “emotional labour”, healthcare well-being, identity and culture. Together with her clinical and management experience working with different healthcare specialties in hospitals in Qatar, this led to the interests and passion to explore the issues of well-being in health care at the PhD level.

Collaborators on the 2017 SMERC Project


Ashley Dennis

Ashley currently works in the Centre for Medical Education, University of Dundee, and has a background in both medical education and psychology.  Her work in psychology examined cognitive processes in mental health issues.  Within medical education, she has explored mental health issues, and assessment of trainers and trainees.  She has been involved in work exploring Scottish medical education research priorities.  Ashley is experienced in both quantitative and qualitative methods utilising narrative interviewing techniques and analysis methods such as thematic framework analysis.  Through SMERC she has gained experience working in multi-institutional collaborations and large multi-site studies.

Gozde Ozakinci

Gozde teaches health psychology and behavioural medicine within the St Andrews Medical School and  the MSc in Health Psychology.  She has interests in the wellbeing of medical students as well as working with the emotion-regulation associated with cancer survival and recurrence.  Her work concentrates on issues around predictors of distress as well as understanding the nature of the experience with an effort to design effective and meaningful psychological support interventions.

Anita Laidlaw

Anita is Convenor of the Clinical Communication component of the undergraduate curriculum at the Medical School, University of St Andrews where she also organises the Medical Education Research Group. She is Co-director of the Centre for Higher Education Research at St Andrews and Associate Director of MERE, leading the resilient workforce network. She has carried out research and published in the area of medical student and higher education student wellbeing.


Kathleen G McNeill

Kathy is a clinical psychologist who recently (2014) completed a PhD (Clinical Psychology) entitled “An Investigation of Self-Structure, Social Identity and Norms in Medical Student Wellbeing” supervised by Ken Mavor.  She has been heavily involved in the project exploring self, identity and medical student wellbeing previously based at the ANU, and as well as four publications and a book chapter arising from her PhD, she has other papers in preparation on this topic.

Erin O’Reilly

Erin did her medical training at the ANU and the Canberra Hospital and is currently a Paediatric Registrar at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Erin was wellbeing officer for the ANU medical student’s society, and did her medical school research project, under the supervision of Ken Mavor, looking at the independent effects of different kinds of stress on wellbeing.  She maintains a strong interest in the role of identity and wellbeing in medical trainees.

Collaborators in Social Psychology at St Andrews

Steve Reicher

Steve Reicher is a professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews, a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a Fellow of the British Academy.  Professor Reicher’s work particularly focuses on the relationship between social identities, collective mobilization around national and religious identities, crowd behavior, and the nature of obedience.  This work has includes interest in the implications of social identity on health and wellbeing in the context of mass gatherings medicine.

Nicole Tausch

Nicole Tausch is a social psychologist broadly interested in intergroup relations and social perception. She obtained her D.Phil at the University of Oxford in 2006 and completed a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cardiff University in 2010. Nicole is currently a lecturer in social psychology at the University of St Andrews. Nicole is recipient of the British Psychological Society’s Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research Contributions to Psychology. She is Associate Editor of the European Journal of Social Psychology and Member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy.

Sam Pehrson

Sam Pehrson is a social psychologist with interests in the field of social identity and group processes. He completed his PhD at the University of Sussex in 2008 before holding postdoctoral and lectureship positions at the University of Limerick and Queen’s University Belfast. Since 2015 he has been a lecturer in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St Andrews.