April 16, 2019, by lzzeb
A day in the life of a Health Geographer… Stephanie Coen
A blog by Dr Stephanie Coen
Hiya! (as I’ve learned to say since I’ve landed in the UK from Canada!) I’m still working on my UK vocab and expressions, so please feel free to help me out. Some of my faves so far are “chin wag, “you alright?” (which in Canada = “is something wrong?”), “cuppa,” and “ta!”
I joined the School of Geography in January 2019 as an Assistant Professor. My journey in Geography has taken me, quite literally, all over the place. In 2000, I moved from Vermont, USA (where I grew up) to study at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Little did I know at that time I would spend the next 19 years in Canada and become a Canadian! I completed by BA honours and MA in Geography at McGill, and then spent the next 6 years working in multidisciplinary health research roles, including with the Institute of Gender and Health (part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research) and the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. From Vancouver, I moved back to eastern Canada – to Kingston, Ontario – to pursue my PhD in Geography at Queen’s University. In 2017, I moved to London, Ontario (or “little LondON” as we call it”) to undertake my postdoctoral training in the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory (the HEAL) at Western University with Prof Jason Gilliland. And then I came here to Nottingham!
As a health geographer, I am most interested in how the everyday places in which we live, work, and play matter for our health and wellbeing. My current research considers the role of environments in the ‘gender gap’ in physical activity – that is, how men and boys are more likely than girls and women to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines for health. I have focused in particular on the gym as a site where these gender disparities take shape. My hope is that by understanding the features of places that reinforce social differences and perpetuate exclusions, we can identify ways to create more inclusive places for physical activity participation.
I’m not sure there is a typical day for me. Of course there are chunks of time just me and the computer, reading papers, trying to write papers, preparing lectures, drafting funding applications, and those endless emails. But the best parts are the human parts. There is meeting with students, whether it’s tutorials, dissertation supervision, or pastoral care. I love that we have an open door policy here and I hope students always feel welcome to come by. And there is meeting with colleagues to discuss new ideas and plan new modules (sssshhhhh David Beckingham and I have something in the works!). Also, still being new here, I’m so grateful for how generous all my colleagues have been with helping me to find my way around the new systems and procedures in the School. Once I launch a new research project, hopefully next year, I’ll be very much looking forward to undertaking new data collection out of the office and in the community.
I also get my daily dose of Twitter. Now, wait right there—I’ve really come to value Twitter as a source of academic networking and research dissemination. And for any doubters, I have the receipts to prove it! In March, I was interviewed about my research on gyms for an article published in the popular magazine Glamour by a journalist who contacted me via Twitter. This extended the reach of my research findings to a wide public audience. Connections from Twitter also recently invited me to give a talk at a special interdisciplinary seminar on gender and physical activity at the University of Bath, where I was able to engage with researchers from kinesiology, leisure studies, physical culture studies, and health sciences. Another couple of Twitter pals and I got together to write a letter to the editor of the journal Sports Medicine in response to a viewpoint piece about equity in physical activity. And I could go on!
But I’ll leave it there for now, and hope to see you in the hallways of Sir Clive Granger or in the Twitterverse (@steph_coen)!
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