Ambassador: Dr Sevasti-Melissa Nolas
- Current role:
- Academic (teaching and research)
- University of Sussex
- Social sciences and economics
I am a Lecturer in the Department of Social Work & Social Care at the University of Sussex. I joined the University of Sussex in September 2011. My first degree was in Linguistics at Sussex (1995-1999) after which I trained as a social psychologist completing an MSc and PhD at the Institute of Social Psychology, London School of Economics (2000-2001; 2003-2007). I have worked in academia and the third sector as a researcher, lecturer, and trainer. My research is on youth development, children's participation rights, participatory programming and evaluation, action research, ethnography, and qualitative research methods. I am especially interested in the dynamics and spaces of participation in programmatic contexts and everyday life.
Describe the public engagement work you have done
From my initial training in social research methods I was fascinated by participatory research methods. One of the first research projects I worked on was a project looking at organisational change using action research in which members of the organisation worked with the research team as co-researchers. I then went on to use participatory video methods in my doctoral research with young people. I trained and supported young people in creating their own audiovisual compositions about their communities and lives. I have written critically about the use of such methods and continue to develop knowledge and understanding in this area. More recently as a researcher at a child and adolescent mental health charity I was responsible for setting up and running a children’s participation forum. We used the forum to consult with young people on different aspects of our work. In my current role I have set up a blog http://socialworkatsussex.wordpress.com/ for colleagues and myself to blog about our work. I am also responsible for Engaging Publics at the Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth to be launched shortly at the University of Sussex. I have also been a member of the Department of Health Patient and Public Involvement Forums.
What movitated you to engage with the public?
I am passionate about research being made available for public consumption in ways that are accessible, meaningful and timely, and about interacting with members of the public at different stages of the research process. I am particularly excited by the possibility of doing so through new technology (e.g. blogs and social media), as well as through more traditional formats (e.g. town hall meetings, steering groups) and it feels like a particularly exciting time to be involved in public engagement. It is my hope that through platforms such as blogs, micro-blogs and twitter we can communicate, and make more meaningful, the research that we do. I see research as very much a public endeavour and as the landscape of higher education changes I believe that public engagement will become key to how we think about and make sense of higher education and research practice in the future.
Name: Dr Sevasti-Melissa Nolas