Best Thesis Competition finalists – Rebecca Jones

Best Thesis Competition finalists – Rebecca Jones

The Best Thesis Award Session will take this afternoon (Friday 6th May) from 16.15- 17.50 Room 0.4 and is immediately followed by the Poster Networking Reception Programme.

The previous newsletters had our interviews with finalists Louise Tully and Maja Bramming. Today we meet the third finalist, Rebecca Jones, of Cambridge University, UK.

Q: Hi Rebecca, congratulations on your Best Thesis Award, and welcome to the congress.  Please tell us a little about yourself.

A: Thank you so much – it’s such a joy to be a finalist for the Best Thesis Award! It’s brilliant to be at the congress and see everyone in person, and the programme looks excellent. For a bit about me: I’m Dr Rebecca Jones, I’m 29 years old, and I live in Cambridge (UK). I’ve lived here for 3-4 years, but before that I lived in Belfast (NI) whilst I completed my Masters in Public Health, Sheffield (UK) during my BSc Hons Sport and Exercise Science, and I grew up in the Wirral (UK).

Q: Congratulations on being one of our ‘Best Thesis’ award winners this year- tell us about how you first entered the world of obesity research.

A: Before my starting my PhD at the University of Cambridge, I worked in health improvement teams delivering behavioural weight management interventions for around 5 years. These services were brilliant in many ways, but I found myself thinking “I know we can do better”. I entered my PhD with the aim to create meaningful evidence to inform improvements in services to better support those living with obesity.

Q: And of course – tell us the subject of your thesis – why is this area important in obesity research?

A: Whilst working in weight management services, I specifically noticed that there was a lack of mental health support for participants of behavioural weight management interventions. Participants would seek psychological support, but there was too often little to no support available. The aim of my doctoral thesis was to understand how well interventions support mental health, and how they could be adapted to better support mental health.

Q: What are your aims for the first part of your career?

A: I’m really excited to still be working in obesity research. I am writing fellowship applications to pursue independent research into this understudied yet very important area – being the role of mental health in behavioural weight management interventions. Whilst pursuing a research fellowship, I am currently the Research Programme Manager for the NIHR PGfAR on scalable behavioural weight management programmes for the prevention and treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. In this role, I coordinate and operationally manage a multidisciplinary research programme led by Dr Amy Ahern and Professor Simon Griffin at the University of Cambridge.

Q: Have you been involved in any studies so far?

A: I’m really proud that I’ve been involved in a number of studies so far. Alongside my PhD, I had a lead role in the development and evaluation of the Supporting Weight Management (SWiM) and Supporting Weight Management during COVID-19 (SWiM-C) trial. I have collaborated with researchers across the world on the Eating Disorders In weight-related Therapy (EDIT) study, led by Dr Natalie Lister and Dr Hiba Jebeile at the University of Sydney. I am also really proud of my involvement in EURopean Obesity PatiEnt pANdemic Survey (EUROPEANS), led by EASO and EPCO; I played a key role in the survey development and have led the first study using the data from the survey.

Q: What are some of the sessions that you would like to attend in this year’s congress?

A: There’s so much that I’m looking forward to! I’m looking forward to attending the project workshop on the Canadian Adult Obesity Management Clinical Practice Guidelines, the ‘Are you E-ready?’ session, and the ‘Mental health & stigma’ abstract session where I will be presenting the first findings from the EUROPEANS.

Q: Finally, enough work talk! Tell us what you like to do to relax.

A: I absolutely love cooking and trying new recipes, long nature walks, great coffee in a little independent coffee shop, a gripping psychological thriller book, listening to country music, or simply spending time with my friends and family.

Thanks so much Rebecca, and enjoy the congress!