Contact us

Group Coordinators

Lisa Duncan e-mail / University profile

Mona Maier e-mail / University profile


Welcome to the HABIT ECR Group

The HABIT-Group (Health And BehavIoural Science Training Group) provides support and training for Behavioural Scientists and researchers with an interest in Health and Behavioural Science during the early stages of their careers - from PhD Researchers, Research Assistants to Post-docs.

We host regular workshops, writing retreats, and journal clubs online.

If you are an early career researcher or a PhD student with an interest in Health and Behavioural Science and would like to join the group, to hear more information, or have any ideas about future workshops please get in touch.

HABIT Group Workshop Schedule 2023

Welcome to HABIT
12th May 2023 09.30-12.30 HSB 115 / Online

Welcome to the HABIT group, upcoming schedule, introductions and questions, followed by a writing retreat (dedicated time to come together and work on writing/projects).  

Speaker/Facilitator(s): Mona & Lisa

Writing Retreat
26th May 2023 09.30-12.30 HSB 115 / Online

Dedicated time to come together and work on writing/projects.

Speaker/Facilitator: Mona

2nd June 2023 09.30-11.30 HSB 115 / Online

Using Zotero, Mendeley, and Rayyan for Referencing and Systematic Reviews

Speaker/Facilitator(s): Mona & Lisa

23rd June 2023 Time TBC 3:052 Polwarth / Online

Academic CV Building

Speaker/Facilitator: Dr Julia Allan

Writing Retreat
14th July 2023 09.30-12.30 HSB 115 / Online

Dedicated time to come together and work on writing/projects

Speaker/Facilitator: Mona

11th August 2023 Time TBC HSB 115 / Online

The confusing terminology defining the field of Behavioural Science – Insights, Nudge Theory, and Health Psychology

Speaker/Facilitator: Professor Marie Johnston

EHPS Presentation Feedback Session
25th August 2023 09.30-11.30 3:052 Polwarth / Online

An opportunity for anyone attending EHPS conference to get feedback on their presentations/posters

Speaker/Facilitator(s): Mona & Lisa

22nd September 2023 Time TBC HSB 115 / Online

Open Science and Open Research

Speaker/Facilitator: Dr Daniel Powell

HABIT Group Profiles

Azar Alexander-Sefre

Azar Alexander-Sefre is pursuing her PhD in the Health Services Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen. She completed her BSc in Pharmacology at the University of Manchester and then went on to complete her MSc in Clinical Pharmacology at King’s College London. Azar has 8 years of experience working in the clinical research industry, working in trial management and patient recruitment, and has also been an active member of a NHS research ethics committee for 4 years. Azar’s main research interest lies in improving methodological practices in trials, especially related to ways in which trial teams can design, conduct, and report trials to be more inclusive for underserved groups. Her PhD project is titled ‘Making it easier for trial teams to design inclusive trials’, with a key focus on the already existing INCLUDE Frameworks and how they can be improved to also consider any intersectionality that exists between groups. Her other interests include research ethics, recruitment, and retention in trials. 


London, UK (GMT+1)

Emma Bilney

Emma Bilney is a Health Psychology MSc student at the University of Bath, where she is currently based. She is on a research placement with the University of Aberdeen, supervised by Mona Maier and Professor Patrice Forget. She is interested in understanding and applying behaviour change techniques to improve public health outcomes. Currently, her main research project is investigating decision fatigue among healthcare professionals making postoperative pain management prescribing decisions. She graduated from Durham University with a BSc in Psychology. 

Behaviour change - Decision Fatigue - Public Health 

Taylor Coffey

Taylor Coffey is a Research Fellow with the Health Services Research Unit in the Institute of Applied Health Sciences. He recently completed his PhD with the Unit in clinical trials methodology, specifically, how to apply behavioural approaches to trial recruitment and retention. He is now working on a project to expand this approach to other aspects of clinical trials through the BOOST study (Behavioural Optimisation and Operational Strategies for Trials) with Prof Katie Gillies. Prior to coming to Aberdeen, Taylor worked as a project coordinator in neurology trials in Chicago whilst pursuing a MSc in psychology and neuroscience at King’s College London.

Behavioural theory – clinical trials – methodology – qualitative evaluation

Aberdeen, UK (GMT+1)

Lisa Duncan

Lisa Duncan is a Research Assistant (RA) and PhD student in the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. Lisa works within the Academic Primary Care group and her RA role is focused on assisting with a project designing digital interventions to support colorectal and prostate cancer survivors. Lisa's PhD is exploring the measurement and quantification of treatment burden in individuals living with and beyond cancer, and links with her RA work. She is interested in the experiences of individuals with long-term health conditions, and in the measurement of theoretical constructs and patient-reported outcomes. Lisa previously worked as a Research Assistant with the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews. She received an MA (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Edinburgh and an MSc in Health Psychology from the University of Aberdeen.

Treatment Burden – Measurement – Patient-reported Outcomes – Long-term Health Conditions

Aberdeen, UK (GMT+1)

David Field

David Field (he/him) – is a PhD candidate in the Institute of Applied Health Sciences in the University of Aberdeen. David is working on his PhD part-time and via distance learning from Dublin, Ireland where he is a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Sexual Health Advisor. David’s research focuses on the concept of Risk and its relationship with the sexual health outcomes of gay and bisexual men, a group who continue to be disproportionally effected by sexually transmitted infections. Prior to commencing his PhD David completed his Masters in Public Health with University College Cork where his dissertation focused on the relationship between chemsex, anxiety and depression among gay and bisexual men living with HIV.

Sexual Health, gbMSM, Risk, Sexually Transmitted Infections, HIV

Dublin, Ireland (GMT+1)

Sophie Greenwood

Sophie Greenwood is a statistician working on clinical trial methodology under Health Sciences Research Unit. Clinical trials test how medical interventions impact human health. Regardless of the therapeutic area of the study, most will not have complete outcome data from all participants in the trial. This is commonly referred to as “missing data”, and if left unconsidered can lead to bias in analysis. Although strategies can be put in place to reduce the occurrence of this phenomenon, trial statisticians will still need to define assumptions at the beginning of the study for the data that is inevitably never captured. Sophie’s PhD focuses on how to better inform these decision statisticians must make for their trial’s missing data. She is exploring how patients could be involved in these discussions via expert elicitation. Prior to coming to Aberdeen, Sophie worked as a trial statistician on large international studies and completed her undergraduate and MSc in Medical Statistics at University of Leeds.

Statistics – Clinical trials – Missing data – Expert elicitation – Patient opinions

Aberdeen, UK (GMT+1)

John Handal

John Handal completed his MPH at the University of Aberdeen in 2018 and is now back as a part-time and virtual PhD student at the Institute of Applied Health Sciences. His research is looking to better understand the factors related to the spread and scale of multi-sectoral approaches to integrated care. John currently works full-time at Healthcare Excellence Canada as a Program Lead. He supports diverse healthcare teams across Canada to adopt innovations that improve patients' experiences, patient outcomes, and provider well-being. His previous work has included developing pandemic-related policy guidance, program support for the implementation of artificial intelligence and virtual care in health settings, and improving access to primary care in northern, rural and remote communities. In his spare time, John enjoys hitting the gym, binge-watching the latest reality tv shows, and attending live-music events. He's always up for a coffee chat to connect about work, school, or just in general!

Health equity - Patient engagement- Design thinking - Quality improvement - Patient Safety

Ottawa, Canada (GMT-4)

Mona Maier

Mona Maier (she/her) – is pursuing her PhD in Applied Health Sciences in the Health Psychology Group at the University of Aberdeen. Mona’s PhD focuses on researching decision fatigue in health relevant decision making with a particular focus on healthcare professionals. She is interested in understanding health behaviours and in applying concepts and tools developed by behavioural scientists to improve individual and public health outcomes. Mona worked as a Behavioural Scientist for a consulting firm within the German health care landscape, a Behavioural Science Intern at RGA, and as a teaching assistant at the University of Stirling. She earned a BA in Economics and an MSc in Behavioural Science from the University of Stirling.

Behavioural Economics – Decision Making – Biases – Decision Fatigue

Aberdeen, UK (GMT+1)

James Mkandawire

James Mkandawire is pursuing his PhD in Applied Health Sciences, Global Health at the University of Aberdeen. James’s PhD focuses on studying the role adolescents play in the care of younger siblings and how they can effectively be trained to improve household child health outcomes in low-income settings. James also has interest in researching how HIV and Family Planning services can be integrated at community level to improve access by adolescents.  He has worked as the research director for a local NGO based in Malawi.  James trained as a nurse and midwife then earned his Master of Public Health from the University of Malawi.

Adolescent health- Adolescent caregiving – Family Planning – HIV – child marriages

Malawi (GMT +1)

Claire Robertson

Claire Robertson is a PhD student in the School of Psychology at the University of Aberdeen. Her interdisciplinary project, in conjunction with Humanities, focuses on health comics and how comic design can impact health message delivery and, subsequently, reader understanding, attitudes and engagement with health information. She is interested in health literacy and readability to make complex public health information more accessible to the general population and vulnerable groups. The findings from this project will help advance comic theory and contribute to multi-modal perception and memory research within Psychology. Furthermore, this research will allow health comics to be objectively assessed regarding their effectiveness and provide comprehensive recommendations for effective health comic creation. Claire achieved a BSc (Hons) in Psychology at Abertay University and an MSc in Health Psychology at the University of St Andrews. She is based in Scotland (BST), where she will conduct her research.

Health Comics – Public Health Information – Accessibility

Abbie Stephen

Abbie Stephen is a PhD student in the Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen. Abbie’s PhD focuses on improving healthy eating in populations with low socioeconomic status via the use of a novel social prescription toolkit. She is interested in the experiences of the intended beneficiaries of community dietary interventions, particularly how uptake and engagement is moderated by perceived barriers and facilitators.  Previously, Abigail obtained a first-class honours in Psychology within the School of Psychology at the University of Aberdeen in 2021 and subsequently completed an MSc in Health Psychology within the University of Aberdeen's School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition in 2022.

Social prescribing, socioeconomic status, dietary behaviour, nutrition

Aberdeen, UK (GMT+1)