Nicola's Story 

My research focuses on university student mental health. I am currently directing SMaRteN, the UKRI funded Student Mental Health Research Network.

My research here is inspired by my personal experiences and my work in the charity sector. Following my own personal experiences with mental health difficulties, I founded Student Minds in 2009 with the ambition to change the way we talk about mental health in higher education. I want all students to feel confident talking about mental health. I hope we can build and support better formal and informal networks of peer support to normalise conversations around mental health.

After running Student Minds for 6 years, I stepped back from the day to day operations in 2015. I remain a trustee of the charity. My work with Student Minds was recognised by the Queen, when I was one of the first people in the UK to be awarded the Queen's Young Leader Award. 

I am interested in supporting collaborative work to build a better understanding of student mental health and am interested in hearing from students who would like to explore projects related peer support, the relationship between teaching and student mental health, and institutional policy.

By training, I am an experimental psychologist. I completed my DPhil examining individual differences in associative learning at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University, with Dr Robin Murphy. I was then awarded a personal MRC Centenary award to develop my work further and subsequently worked on a post-doctoral project with Dr Rachel Msetfi. 

I have worked on topics of resilience and cognitive flexibility. Working within the framework of associative learning, my research has considered cognitive risk factors for mental health, identifying predictors of vulnerability and understanding the mechanisms that contribute to the development and maintenance of mental health difficulties. I still work in this area and am always interested to hear from students who would like to work on projects looking at individual differences in learning.