Karin Diaconu, PhD in Health and Population, 2016 | Research Fellow

Karin-Diaconu-450x450Karin graduated in 2016 and is now a Research Fellow at Queen Margaret University. 

Please can you give a brief history of your career since graduating from the University of Birmingham.

I left Birmingham in the summer of 2016 with a PhD in Health and Population Science and since then I have been working as a Research Fellow with the Institute of Global Health and Development at Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh.

What is your current role/research and what does it involve?

At QMU, my research is quite diverse. For part of my job, I am continuing my PhD research on medical technologies: I am currently exploring the adoption of diagnostic technologies for cholera detection in low-income settings. Additionally, I am involved in an innovative research project in the Middle East where my colleagues and I are trying to identify elements of health system resilience during contexts of adversity. We are focusing in particular on the influx of Palestinian-Syrian refugees into Lebanon and Jordan and how UNRWA services are coping with service delivery in the region.

What do you love the most about your role and what is the biggest challenge?

I most love the diversity my research fellowship role offers me: it is fantastic to be involved in so many different projects and gain skills across such different areas! The biggest challenge is finding the time to apply these new skills, once you learn a new technique you often move on to a different study so there may be little time for you to apply what you learn.

How did your degree help prepare you for your career? What subjects/ modules/ experiences did you find the most valuable?

My supervisory team was absolutely exceptional: they not only had incredibly high research standards but also helped me acquire all the basic skills I would need in a research career. I found foundation courses in health economics and evidence appraisal incredibly helpful: I still refer to the course materials today.

Why did you choose to study at Birmingham?

I had a choice among several PhD programs: I chose the one at Birmingham because it seemed the most pragmatic and impactful research project and offered high quality training. My research has informed initiatives at the World Health Organization and has been disseminated internationally: the project was clearly geared towards benefitting individuals in the poorest settings globally. The training offered was also much more practically minded than in other universities: courses offered were clearly geared towards professionals –either in research or industry.

How would you sum up your time in Birmingham in three words?

Challenging, inspiring, exceptional.

What inspired you most during your time as a student? 

All of the above! I made life-long friends at Birmingham, met researchers who I know will be my colleagues for years to come and met my supervisors: women and men who have inspired me to see the world differently and to always question it.

What advice would you give to people who are considering studying  Birmingham?

If you are considering a PhD: tread carefully! It is a long time commitment but it will be worth it in the end!

What advice would you give to current students studying your course who are still undecided about which career to go into?

I recommend you keep your options open. It may seem like a research career is the only way to go, but your skills are of huge benefit to the private sector and industry as well!