CRFR PhD students

CRFR supports a number of University of Edinburgh PhD students who are conducting research on families and relationships. Below is a list of current and completed students.

Current PhD students

Amelia Alias
Current project: Details to follow

Jane Andrew, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: The Meanings and Experiences of Befriending for People who have Memory Loss or Dementia
This project aims to explore the meaning and experiences of befriending relationships for people with memory loss or dementia in the context of a person’s everyday life, personal community, and associated life history.

Patricio Cuevas-Parra, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: All opinions matter: Children and young people leading their own research
This research project aims to critically explore how the process and outcomes of the participation of children and young people in their own research contribute, positively or negatively, to decision-making processes. This study hopes to fill the gap between literature and practice regarding child-led research which has been not widely documented and to provide such knowledge.

Jillian Hart, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: Is methodological innovation superficially attractive but challenging in practice? A case study combining biographical narrative with social network mapping
As social scientists we have a variety of methods in our social science ‘toolbox’. But, are we using the same methods over and over again? We have so many methods and applications of methods at our disposal; why are we sticking to primarily interviews, questionnaires, ethnography, focus groups (or a combination of them). The NCRM typology of research methods lists literally dozens of methods, and even with only 12 methods considered, there are 132 possible pairings of methods, so why are we limiting our data collection methods? Is mixing methods superficially attractive but challenging in practice? This thesis therefore questions, are we stuck in a rut with our data collection methods? This project will examine and explore the potential, and also the pitfalls, of bringing (auto)biographical research and social network analysis together by way of a case study which examines the academic career, relationships, and networks of Professor Ann Oakley.

Yi-tao Lee
Current project: My research title is Growing online with daddy: the fatherhood and the childhood on Taiwanese Father-run baby blogs
As many parents use the internet to record and to share their family life and experiences of being parents nowadays, these online contents provide us with a version of family, parenthood, and childhood. This research analyses three father-run baby blogs in Taiwan to find the online version of Taiwanese fathers and children. All these blogs are run by new fathers and are named (titled) using their children’s name or nickname. I analysis the entries from the child was born till the child was three years old. In the three data chapters, I discuss the fatherhood shown in these blogs and how a normal child is constructed. To an extent, I also discuss how the fathers use the internet regarding with the concept of online community and online identity.


Aoife McKenna, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: A sociological study of health-related enhancement technologies in the context of reproduction
Aoife was awarded a Wellcome Trust funded studentship under a Biomedical Ethics Strategic programme, “The Human Body, its Scope, Limits and Future”. The project will investigate sterilization in Brazil and the U.K., particularly focusing on conceptions of parenthood and family, constructions of the human body and its capabilities, and issues of regulation.

Mary Mitchell, The University of Edinburgh
Current project:
This PhD research is a 1+3 collaborative studentship, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and is a partnership between CHILDREN 1ST, the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships and the University of Edinburgh. This qualitative research aims to better understand the contribution Family Group Conferencing  (FGC) makes to longer-term outcomes for children and families. For the purposes of the research, “longer-term” is considered to be 12 months or longer, after an FGC meeting has taken place.

Kate Norman, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: Transgender people’s experiences of health and social care provision in Scotland
Kate’s PhD reviewed levels of social care need and service provision for transgender people in Scotland, within dedicated and generic services, and from the perspectives of transgender people themselves. The findings, from three online surveys and nineteen online interviews, identified varying levels of support from transgender groups, gender specialists, GPs, counsellors/psychiatrists, families and friends, and from care staff. Key areas of need included gender identity and transition issues, family concerns, documentation, mental and physical health issues, and issues relating to social integration, including the effects of transphobia and social isolation.

Read the ‘Report to the Scottish Government: Socialising Transgender’

Harla Sara Octarra, University of Edinburgh
Current project: Harla’s PhD is looking at practices of working together in children’s services. Her research is conducted within the context of Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) implementation. GIRFEC is the Scottish Government approach to improving outcomes for children. It requires agencies in each local authority to work together in order to deliver appropriate and timely services for children and families, and Harla aims to look closely on what working together means in practice. Harla’s PhD is funded by the Indonesia Education Scholarship; the Indonesian Government scholarship that is managed and administered by the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) of Ministry of Finance.

Rebecca Parry, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: Rebecca’s PhD focuses on the impact of early (childhood) on-set epilepsy on the family. Examining closely the affects a diagnosis has on the child, siblings, and parents. As well as exploring family dynamics and strategies for managing and living with chronic illness. The PhD is part of on-going work at the Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children Edinburgh and funded by the Muir Maxwell Trust.

Eloi Ribe, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: Maintaining and extending grandparent-grandchild relationships
This study aims at understanding the theoretical and practical implications of grandparent-grandchild relationships.

Sarah Rogers, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: Exploring the lives of families with young children over time using the Growing up in Scotland study.
The specific subject area of this project is yet to be confirmed but it is intended to exploit the longitudinal nature of GUS. The research is funded by an ESRC quota studentship held by CRFR.

Nathalia Salamanca, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: Sense-making and life narratives: Colombian former child soldiers and their views about childhood during war. The aim of this research is to explore the existence of former child soldier’s narrative that could contest that mainstream discourse, and to see what contributions these narratives can provide to the understanding of childhood during war.

Lee Siew-Pien, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: Details to follow

Sara Diane Stewart, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: Women, sectarianism and Scottish intergenerational family relationships.

Recently completed PhD students

Emma Davidson, The University of Edinburgh
Young people and the everyday antisocial
Young people frequently use public space for social acitivity but their presence can be a source of suspicion and anxiety to members of the public. This thesis examines how they use and relate to public spaces.

Emma Doyle, The University of Edinburgh
Calling NHS 24: exploring caller decision making and help seeking behaviour within the context of out-of-hours health care provision

This project used in-depth qualitative interviews to explore illness behaviour amongst people who call NHS 24 during the out-of-hours period and who are given self-care advice. This research was funded through an ESRC CASE studentship, in association with NHS 24.

Carine Leborgne, The University of Edinburgh
Carines research aimed to follow a case study approach focusing on two children’s rights organisations, one in Scotland and one in Tamil Nadu (South India). It looked at how NGOs implement the concept of participation, at the role of facilitators and barriers in the process of implementation, and at future improvement of children’s participation. The study compared practices between the “Minority World” and “Majority World” to evaluate alternative solutions to implement children’s participation.​

Alexandra Macht, The University of Edinburgh
Fatherhood and love: A psychosocial and cultural exploration of unromantic love in Scottish and Romanian families.
Through semi-structured qualitative interviews, observations of personal lives and an analysis of current parenting blogs, the research investigates the conceptions and emotional experiences of both parents in general and fathers in particular regarding unromantic child-led love.

Christina McMellon, The University of Edinburgh
Critical happiness: examining the beliefs that young Lao volunteers in Vientiane hold about the things that make life good
Christina’s research used collaborative ethnography to explore young Laotian’s experiences and understandings of their subjective wellbeing and how these experiences and assessments are informed by Lao culture and changing global cultures.

Fiona Morrison, The University of Edinburgh
Children, contact and domestic abuse
Fiona was awarded a CASE ESRC studentship with Scottish Women’s Aid and the Centre for Research in Families and Relationships (CRFR). Her research focused on children’s views and experiences of contact when there is history of domestic abuse, and their views of contact policy and legislation.

Sharani Osborn, The University of Edinburgh
Current project: Becoming a Father: Men’s orientations and decisions in relation to having children
The studentship, funded by the ESRC through the Centre for Population Change (CPC) comprised of a qualitative interview project in Edinburgh with men who are fathers, and a smaller sample of men who are not fathers. The aim of the research was to explore how men understand the place of fatherhood in the life course and in relation to other life domains, as well as the factors shaping decisions around having children for men who are and are not fathers.

Scott Tindal, The University of Edinburgh
Project: This studentship aimed to contribute to the body of research concerned with knowledge exchange.
This project explored the processes of non-academic engagement at the interface between researchers and non-academic research-users, for example; policymakers, charities, private companies, and other stakeholders including the wider public. This study used the case study of the CPC to explore how demography and population research is disseminated across a wide range of different research-using audiences.

Julie Watson, The University of Edinburgh
Understanding the caring relationship between people with advanced dementia and care staff in a care home
Julie completed a Masters by Research in 2011 as part of a 1+3 ESRC Studentship. Her PhD sought to understand the caring relationship between people with advanced dementia towards the end of life and care staff in a care home. Using embodied selfhood as a theoretical framework and focusing on everyday acts of care, she explored ways of being with the person with dementia in caring ways that draw upon their remaining emotional, relational and embodied capacities, as part of a palliative care approach.

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