Dr Lowthian is a Lecturer in the Department of Education and Childhood Studies, School of Social Sciences. Her current research focuses on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the secondary harms of parental substance use, and vulnerable children (e.g. looked-after children).

What is your field of research?

I am an interdisciplinary researcher across the disciplines of sociology, psychology, and public health, aiming to understand and improve the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents.

My key works involve understanding the secondary harms of parental substance use on children’s educational outcomes, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and more recently, I have been researching care-experienced children’s health and educational outcomes.

Dr Emily Lowthian

How did you become interested in the field?

During my PhD, I further developed my advanced statistical knowledge and contributed to numerous publications including a meta-analysis and research on e-cigarette use. I also was employed as a Research Associate for 7-months working across three projects on children’s health and wellbeing. Coming towards the end of my PhD, I was keen to further develop my data and statistical skills, and that’s when I decided to apply for a Research Officer and Data Scientist role at Swansea University – in the Medical School - I did mention I was interdisciplinary!

How did you come to work at Swansea University?

The first role I had at Swansea University was in Health Data Research UK in the Data Science Building. I applied knowing I would bolster my understanding of data linkage and advanced statistics. I spent just over a year in my first post, supporting work on COVID-19 vaccination and effectiveness, and mother-child relationships. I started to long for what felt like home, the social sciences, which led me to apply for the Lecturer position in the Department of Education and Childhood Studies. It has been quite the journey over the first year of my role, but I can certainly say this is the perfect fit.

What do you hope to achieve with your research?

Too many things, really. But I want to achieve impact – not the buzzword – research which reaches and shapes the affected groups. For example, myself and Dr Anthony won funding from eNurture (UKRI) to explore social media and online communication behaviours in young people, and how this may be associated with their mental, physical and social wellbeing. We integrated young people’s voice throughout this project in terms of the measures, analysis and resource development.

What practical applications could your research have?

In lots of different ways, at many different levels, I think. So, the social media research I mentioned above is aimed at supporting young people to understand their online activity a little more in relation to their overall wellbeing – I would like to develop this more.

At higher levels, the research I am conducting on care-experienced children will hopefully support practitioners and policymakers in the area with a solutions-based report informed by teachers, social care associates and care-experienced children themselves; I’ve recently reflected on the academic hat I wear, and how it is not to everyone’s size.

What is next for your research?

Delivering the three bids I have been successful on largely. Alongside the project funded by Health and Care Research Wales with Professor Tom Crick (and many others) on care-experienced children, I am also funded by the Nuffield Foundation with Dr Cathryn Knight (now at Bristol, but a Swansea original).

We will be exploring the educational attainment of children with Additional Learning Needs. Outside of this, I am working on publishing the final paper of my ‘PhD triology’, some work from my Data Science role, and idea’s that I couldn’t quite ignore and found the time to pursue.

Find out more about Dr Emily Lowthian