Dr Sandra Engstrom

Sandra in a canoe on water

Faculty of Social Sciences

Role: Lecturer, Social Work

Research interests: My research primarily focuses on community resilience as well as the role of social work in combating the climate crisis. This often takes the form of looking at community mental health, trauma and eco-grief. That being said, I also currently have a bid in looking at the lived experience of eating disorder recovery.

I primarily work within interdisciplinary settings and collaborators come from the fields of ecology, health psychology, law, public health, geography, sociology, anthropology and archaeology. I work with qualitative methods and have experience with focus groups, in-depth interviews, photo-voice and autoethnography.

Why do you think a positive research culture is important?

Academia can be a stressful and overwhelming career at times, so anything that can make the atmosphere more positive and supportive is a good move in my books. Additionally, we are all doing incredible research and teaching to try and make the world a bit better in our own disciplinary way. We need to celebrate and recognise that when we can.

What aspects of Research culture are most important to you?

For me, it is about getting the opportunity to connect with other researchers, brainstorm ideas, learn from people’s successes and setbacks, and be inspired by the work they are doing. Having the time and systems in place to be able to work on researcher development is also imperative. Whether that is project leadership, grant development, budgeting tips, or anything that can help researchers navigate the magnitude of detail and skill that is needed to successfully work on a project with a team of people.

Can you give an example of an action you have taken to improve research culture?

I know it may sound simple, but I generally just try and be a kind person, even if (especially if) I have a lot on my plate. I also like to take advantage of meeting people in other faculties and getting to know more about the work they are doing. I truly believe in the power of relationships and connection. If through my interactions I have met people that I think could do interesting work together, I will introduce them so that they can go off and change the world.

What is something that you personally would like to do next to improve research culture?

I want to continue to meet as many people from across the university as I can. That way I can link people together and know who to go to who when I hear of interesting opportunities that come up and just have an overall sense of who is doing what. Especially in my role as one of the coordinators of the Stirling Crucible, it can be so helpful to know who has had certain experiences in their research career that others can learn from.