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Karen Mansfield


Senior Postdoctoral Researcher

My aim is to develop and apply solid research to understand, promote and protect the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents, in collaboration with researchers from multiple disciplines, young people, policy makers, and all key stakeholders. I am particularly interested in the promotion of equity, inclusion, engagement and agency.

My research uses surveys, longitudinal data and involvement of stakeholders to investigate determinants of and factors associated with adolescent development, including associations between mental health, wellbeing, executive function, motivation and learning. 

I try to keep the bigger picture in mind with every project I am involved in. This includes considering diversity, inclusion, heterogeneity and representativeness, experimental design, measurement bias, reproducibility, reporting bias, ethics, data security, confidentiality, and other forms of research and data integrity. Examples are my role in the development of the OxWell survey and study protocol, my UKDS blog piece on data governance in research, and my perspective piece with Willem Kuyken and MYRIAD team on challenges to the design of universal school-based interventions.

Currently I am working on analyses of cohort data collected as part of the MYRIAD randomised controlled trial of a school-based mindfulness training, within the University of Oxford Mindfulness Research Centre. This includes investigating school pupils' developmental trajectories of self-reported cognitive and mental health before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as addressing research questions and using measures that were co-designed with young participants from the MYRIAD trial. I also co-supervise a DPhil student (Denise Kohlhepp) in the Department of Experimental Psychology, on a project investigating how physical activity benefits both mood and cognition over time.

From 2018-2022, I was a research scientist with the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, carrying out translational research and project coordination. Working closely with Mina Fazel, I led on development of the protocol, analysis plans, and dissemination of key findings to stakeholders for the OxWell Student Survey, in collaboration with local authority and NHS partners. For the EMOTIVE project, I led on development of the ethical protocol and experimental task for the collection and analysis of high-dimensional digital data to measure mood and emotions in patients and healthy volunteers (digital phenotyping).

Before I joined the Department of Psychiatry, my previous research (Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford) and PhD project (Tilburg University, The Netherlands) focused on the neural mechanisms of cognitive control, adaptive learning, engagement and motivation. My research methods included electrophysiological data (ERPs and spectral analysis), intelligence testing, cognitive training and non-invasive electrical stimulation (tES).

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