Advanced Care Research Centre

Student Spotlight - Emily Adams

Get to know Emily, an Academy student whose is using her background in health systems and social care to address homelessness and digital exclusion in her PhD.

1. Name

Emily Adams

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2. What's your project, who are your supervisors, and what's your year of study?

My PhD is 'Implementation of a digital information resource for homeless people in Scotland', and my supervisors are Prof Stewart Mercer and Dr Fiona Cuthill. I'm in my second year at the Academy and my first year of research.

3. What is your background?

I spent the beginning of my career working for an NGO in global development. In this role, I coordinated health system strengthening programmes in Peru and Tanzania in partnership with the local government. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I moved into emergency social care for people experiencing homelessness in Edinburgh and studied for a Master’s in Public Health. I currently team lead a rapid re-accommodation unit in Edinburgh city centre. I am particularly interested in the intersection of academic research with the third sector, and the social determinants of health.

4. What drew you to the Academy?

I was drawn to the interdisciplinary approach taken in the academy as I believe this is the best way to solve the largest challenges we have in research and society. In addition, the project supervisors, Professor Stewart Mercer and Dr Fiona Cuthill had made significant contributions to homelessness research in Scotland I was delighted to work with individuals making a tangible impact.

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5. How did you find your taught year?

It was great to learn from the others within the cohort. To understand how they communicate their position from their disciplinary background to work together on solutions. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn new research techniques that I can now apply to my PhD project.

6. What is your PhD about and why does it matter to you? 

My PhD project is the evaluation of a digital intervention for older people experiencing homelessness. In my professional life, I am passionate about addressing the barriers between people experiencing homelessness and accessing existing support services. In a progressively digital world, older people experiencing homelessness face the potential triple disadvantage of being older, homeless and digitally excluded. My project aims to understand how these barriers interact and evaluate a proposed solution in a mobile signposting platform. I hope this can contribute to the evidence base and support available to this understudied population.

7. What’s something that has surprised you about your experience so far? 

My supervisors have trusted me with the direction of the project. They have input their expertise and allowed me to develop the project far beyond my initial expectations.

8. Any tips for those interested in a PhD? 

If possible, speak to the supervision team before submitting an application. The supervision dynamic is vital to the success of your project and your future career. I advise that diverse input and shared enthusiasm for the project is a winning combination.