PhD candidate Judith Austin of the University of Twente is one of twelve new ‘Faces of Science’ that the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) added to its existing line-up of PhD bloggers. These young talents have been selected by the KNAW to report on their daily lives in the world of science in films and blogs. “I am very pleased with this opportunity and look forward to blogging and sharing my experiences with students and the wider public,” says Judith.
As part of her PhD research, Austin is developing a ‘self-compassion app’ for people who have recently been diagnosed with cancer. People with cancer face numerous psychological, social and physical challenges and have an increased risk of suffering from anxiety and depression. However, few of these patients seek psychological help. The goal of Austin’s project is to develop an accessible intervention that helps patients to deal with the emotional consequences of their diagnosis. The framework for the intervention is self-compassion: a way of responding to difficulties with self-kindness and wisdom, which can increase the patient’s sense of well-being and reduce psychological distress. The mobile intervention is currently being further developed together with app developers. It will be pilot-tested next year with patients from two hospitals in Enschede (MST) and Groningen (UMCG).
Austin was selected from a large pool of candidates. She was nominated by Prof. Tatiana Filatova (member of The Young Academy) and her co-supervisor Dr Stans Drossaert. “Judith is a highly creative person, as is reflected in the design of her research project,” says Drossaert. “She also has a critical eye and plenty of organisational talent that helps her keep her project on course, while her open attitude ensures that both patients and caregivers feel comfortable to open up about personal matters.”
The new ‘Faces of Science’ films will be shot in the coming months and they will be published online.
Judith began her PhD research at the University of Twente in July 2018 with a project grant awarded by the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF). In Judith’s research she combines her background in medical psychology and her interest in compassion, mindfulness and well-being. She spent a few years working as a research assistant and junior researcher in various co-creative and multidisciplinary research projects. Within the department of Psychology, Health and Technology (BMS), she now integrates design and technology approaches in her work.
Faces of Science is a project organised by by the KNAW, the Young Academy and NEMO Knowledge Link that aims to put young, talented scientists in the spotlight. PhD candidates post blogs about their experiences and passions on facesofscience.nl to provide the target audience – predominantly young people who are trying to decide what to study – with a realistic picture of what it is like to be a scientist. They also regularly speak at events and in the media. The University of Twente already has a familiar ‘Faces of Science’ blogger in the person of Koen de Koning, who has been blogging on the website since 2018. Koen builds mathematical models of hurricanes.