Dr Aja Murray
BSc (Edinburgh), MSc (Edinburgh), PhD (Edinburgh)
Sir Alan Wilson Research Fellow
I was born and grew up in Edinburgh to two clinical psychologists. From almost the go I was thus immersed in discussions on how the mind works; how different these workings can be across people; and how we can best support those struggling with mental health difficulties. My early academic passions were; however, skewed much more towards the biological and physical sciences. Thus, when it came time to choose a degree, a biological sciences BSc with a specialisation in psychology at the University of Edinburgh seemed the perfect way to combine my social and biological science interests. After completing my psychology BSc, I remained at the University of Edinburgh to complete an MSc in psychology. Here, my research focused on testing a statistical methodology used to understand the ‘structure’ of psychological constructs, such as intelligence, personality, or mental health. Building on this, I then completed a PhD in psychology, again at the University of Edinburgh where I worked on evaluating a broader set of statistical methodologies, for example, those used to test gene-environment interactions. Alongside this, I also maintained a line of research focused on understanding, identifying, and assessing difficulties related to autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disability, and mental health problems. When I moved to the University of Cambridge as a research associate in 2015, I decided to fully dedicate myself to mental health research. From here on, my research focused on illuminating the developmental roots of mental health problems, why different mental health problems so often co-occur, and how we can use this knowledge in prevention and intervention. My research over the next few years will use longitudinal data covering the prenatal period to adulthood to reveal how, across different stages of development, dispositions and experiences together influence the lifelong tendencies to experience mental health problems. One particular interest will be on how we can leverage smartphones to better understand, monitor and support mental health not just at the severe of ‘clinical’ level but for all.
In my spare time, I like to get outdoors and into nature. I’m an obsessive (but mediocre) runner and enjoy other physical activities such as swimming, cycling, football, and hill-walking. I am also an information glut and love to keep up to date on the latest science news through podcasts, popular non-fiction, and social media.