- Name: Jenny Groarke
- Number of lab members or colleagues (excluding PI): I’m one of 14 members of the Centre for Improving Health-Related Quality of Life.
- Location: School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast
- Graduation Date: Ph.D. in 2017
- H index: 6
- Grants: I was awarded a PhD scholarship from the Irish Research Council for my own doctoral studies, and PhD studentships from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for work I am supervising (UK).
- Success of your lab’s members: You can find out more about our lab members here: https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/psy/Research/OurResearchThemes/hce/cihrqol/
- Twitter followers: 1,113
Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
I am a Lecturer in Health Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast. I’m a chartered psychologist (CPsychol) and full member of the British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology. I graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with a BA in Psychological Studies and Sociological and Political Science in 2006, and a Higher Diploma in Psychology (conversion) in 2007. After graduating, I worked as a teaching assistant at the School of Psychology NUI, Galway, and research assistant on the Challenging Breast Cancer Together project. In 2012 I was awarded an Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship for my PhD in Psychology examining the functions and effects of music listening in adolescence versus older adulthood. Following my PhD, I was a postdoctoral researcher with the mHealth (mobile health) Research Group at NUI, Galway on an Irish Cancer Society funded project designing and evaluating an intervention using mobile technology and behaviour change techniques to improve health behaviour among cancer survivors.
The common theme running through my research is understanding emotions and improving people’s wellbeing. The research projects I’ve been involved with have focused on how people regulate their emotions in everyday life, mainly through music, or how they emotionally respond to significant life events, such as a cancer diagnosis. Recently, I’ve been exploring the emotional experience of loneliness during the COVID-19 lockdown.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
After graduating with a degree in psychology I was very tired, so I went travelling for a couple of years and had a lot of rest and some big adventures. When I came home I worked as a research and teaching assistant at my alma mater while also working in bars and nightclubs. I started getting back into singing and making music, after being very involved in performing arts throughout my childhood and teenage years. After a couple of years I started to think about returning to university, and what I might like to investigate. I was surrounded by music and musicians, and I wondered about the different ways people use music in their everyday lives. My first major independent research project was my PhD and it looked at the different functions music listening serves and the effects it has on people at different stages of life – namely adolescence and older adulthood. I found that music serves a very important emotional function in adolescence, and supports stress and anxiety reduction for both younger and older people.
How is everything going nowadays, and what are your plans for the future?
On account of the challenges of collecting data with COVID19 restrictions, much of my research plans have been put on hold. I’ve still managed to produce some work during the lockdown, and I hope our studies on the mental health impact of the pandemic will be impactful.
My research is mainly about how people can manage and maintain their emotional wellbeing, even under difficult and stressful conditions. Communicating this research outside academia is really important to me, so I will continue to engage with the media to promote the health and wellbeing of the public.