I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Carlos III University and a MSc with Distinction in Comparative Public Policy and Welfare Studies from the Syddansk Universitet. In 2016 I was awarded with a +3 studentship by the ESRC to complete my PhD in the University of Leeds. Before that, I worked in the banking an hospitality sectors for several years and later as a research student assistant in the Danish Centre for Welfare Studies and in Foundacion porCausa. In June of 2017 I joined the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills -first as an intern and then as a consultant- where I worked in the project ‘Strength through Diversity: The Integration of Immigrants and Refugees in School and Training Systems’. In April of 2018 moved back to the UK to focus on my PhD thesis on a full-time bases, which I expect to submit in late 2019.
What motivated me to undertake PhD study?
First of all, I enjoy doing research. Therefore, a reasonable next step after graduating from my master’s degree was pursuing a PhD. In addition, I am passionate about social justice, and particularly committed to the cause of providing decent standards of living to socioeconomically disadvantaged children and helping them thrive in life. I believe undertaking a PhD will provide me with the skills needed to become a decent social researcher and make my contribution to helping those in need. I am happy that, thanks to ESRC funding, I am able to undertake my PhD in an excellent university, with the fantastic academic support of the White Rose DTC, and with two great supervisors who are well-familiarized with the topic of my research and the methods I will be using.
What makes me passionate about my subject?
There are two questions that intrigue me: What constitutes a decent childhood? And, how can we provide it to every child? The literature suggests that one of the things we need to do to answer these questions is to pay much more attention to children’s views and reports on their own well-being. In this regard, first, I am curious about what can be learnt from this relatively new field of research. And second, I believe in the important role that researchers can play in helping to improve children’s lives. Therefore, to sum up, I would say that curiosity and commitment with helping disadvantaged children are the main drivers of this passion.
What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?
Although it is still too early to know, I guess there are several different options for me. Pursuing an academic career is certainly one of them. However, an interesting professional opportunity in a non-profit organization, a government body, or an international organization might be attractive to me too.
In my PhD research I study the relationships between education policy, schools and students' subjective well-being (SWB) in a large number of countries and how these vary across different groups of students, with a particular interest in socio-economic status (SES) and gender differences. I use an ecological approach (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) to child SWB, where the different environments that surround the child and the interactions between them are essential to understanding these relationships.
The last decade has witnessed a growing interest children’s well-being in general and SWB in particular. Within the relatively new field of child SWB, a significant body of research has focused on its relationship with SES. SES and, particularly, material well-being are important predictors of SWB, but how we measure them matters (Main, 2014). Moreover, explaining variations in children's SWB can be difficult due to the existence of mediating factors (Cummins, 2000). The relationship between child SWB and policy has been more unexplored, but there is evidence that schools can explain variation in child SWB (Clair, 2014) and several policy-related aspects such as bullying can be particularly important (Rees et al. 2013). Rees and Main (2015) show that there is a much higher degree of cross-country variability regarding children’s feelings about school issues than in other SWB aspects such as health or safety. This would suggest that school is an aspect of children’s lives that may be particularly amenable by policy interventions.
In this research I use data from PISA 2015, a large-scale student assessment by the OECD carried out in more than 70 countries and economies. This data set contains information on 15 year-old students' life satisfaction, broader well-being and a wide range of education policy and practices. To explore these relationships, I use some advanced quantitative research methods, mainly including multilevel modelling and path analysis.
The hypotheses are that (1) there is an association between education policy, schools and students' SWB, (2) which varies across societies (3) and different groups of students (i.e. boys and girls; students of different SES); (4) these associations are also influenced by the different environments that surround the student and the interactions between them. Overall, (5) there are multiple situations where education policy and schools have the potential to make children happier.
*This project is funded and supported by the ESRC and the White Rose DTC and it was presented in the ISCI Conference in Montreal in June of 2017.