LISS DTP Summer Symposium 2024

The Second LISS DTP Summer Research Symposium, was held on 6th June 2024 at King’s College London (Strand Campus). 

Here is the Booklet of the days events!

 We had over 100 attendees over the course of the day and saw some of the excellent Research that LISS DTP PhD candidates are working on!




The Keynote Speaker Professor Samuel Agyei-Mensah

The LISS DTP Directors closed the Symposium and and named the four winners of the Research Presentation Competition:


Mathilde Faralli 

Santiago Quintero 

Fionna McLauchlan 

Astrid Lund 

We had a great experience and we hope to see you next year!

We recorded some clips of the winning Research Presenters here, please give them a watch!

Research Presenters


Associations between Food Environments and Noncommunicable Diseases in South Asia

Petya Atanasova, Prof. Gary Frost, Prof. Marisa Miraldo and GHRU-South Asia Team

Presented by Petya Atanasova

The greatest strain on public health is the continued increase in noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) which account for 73% of all deaths globally. Although NCDs are a global public health concern, 77% of all NCDs deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). A key risk factor of NCDs relates to food related behaviours. 83.6% of NCDs mortality is caused by exposure to factors in our environment that are amenable to policy interventions. Effective interventions require a comprehensive and holistic understanding of the interplay of these factors in driving food related behaviours. Few attempts have been made to systematically link and triangulate different sources of socio-economic, behavioural, biological and exposure to the built environment data to do analyses that can inform change that will affect public health.

Our proposed approach is to leverage a unique dataset with linked data on individual’s health outcomes and characteristics, and environmental mapping capturing the multilevel determinants of behaviours to develop a better understanding of environmental associations with NCDs related outcomes in South Asia. First, we conduct systematic literature review on the impact of the food environment on NCDs related outcomes. Then, we validate findings from the review in the context of South Asia. Further, we investigate the contribution of the food environment in the inequalities observed between urbanized and less urbanized areas and we investigate the potential association between exposure to outdoor food advertising and NCDs related outcomes in South Asia.

What Drives Beliefs about Climate Risks? Evidence from Financial Analysts

Presented by Matilde Faralli

This paper studies how exposure to extreme weather events affects financial forecasts. Using a unique dataset that matches natural disasters with the location of equity analysts across 24 US states over 2000-2020, I apply a staggered differences-in-differences methodology to examine shifts in the earnings forecasts of analysts exposed to weather shocks. I find that analysts become more accurate after experiencing an extreme weather event. I also document that the post-exposure effect on forecasting accuracy is more pronounced for experienced analysts and for firms with high physical climate risk, particularly when these firms are exposed to events similar to those experienced by the analysts.

Jazz in US Public Diplomacy Towards the USSR (1962 – 1972): Is Jazz Music an Effective Tool of Strategic Communications?

Natalya Kovaleva

Presented by Natalya Kovaleva

This multidisciplinary study enables a conversation between musicology, diplomatic history, international relations, and sociology of music to evaluate the role of US-sponsored jazz tours in US-Soviet relations in the 1960s and 1970s. Using previously unearthed archival materials and qualitative interviews, it analyses five US-sponsored jazz tours to the USSR, inquiring whether they helped shape discourses about American culture and values in the Soviet Union. This research project explores the tours from a Strategic Communications perspective, which helps situate US jazz diplomacy in the geopolitical framework of superpower confrontation during the Cold War and is sensitive to the contested nature of socio-political environment in which the tours unfolded. Viewing music as a profoundly social and interactive practice, this study relies on multimodal discourse analysis to examine both textual and musical modes in the public and policy discourses around jazz in the Soviet Union. By giving more attention to the previously untapped Soviet perspective and engaging with viewpoints at levels below governmental, this study aims to make an innovative scholarly contribution and interrogate whether jazz music has the potential to communicate politically charged messages across national, cultural, and linguistic borders.



Investigating the ways 6-11 year old children connect to nature at the Natural History Museum

Zsuzsa Lugosi, Jill Hohenstein and Heather King

Presented by Zsuzsa Lugosi

Increasing awareness on environmental issues, such as biodiversity loss and climate change, has led to growing scientific interest in humans’ perceptions and feelings about nature. Nature connectedness emerged from such research as a key factor and indicated that a stronger connection to nature did not only benefit humans (improved mental and physical wellbeing) but also the planet (increased pro-environmental behaviours). While children are often expected to grow up to be environmentally conscious citizens, this process is mostly encouraged through formal and informal environmental education often placed in outdoor settings. The existing research on nature connectedness however suggests that improving connection may not be effectively achieved by knowledge accumulation alone and experiences that promote emotional reactions may be more successful. To date little research examined the potential natural history museums may have, and so we carried out research at the Natural Histor Musuem of London to determine the extent of potential for the museum to connect their young visitors to nature.


A Photo is worth a Thousand words”: A systematic Scoping Review of Photovoice within Mental Health Research Involving Adolescents

Madison Stephens, Eleanor Keil/er, Maeve Conneely, Victoria Jane Bird, Paul Heritage, Mariana Steffan

Presented by Madison Stephens

Globally, mental health problems in adolescents, alongside associated morbidity and risk of mortality, have never been higher. Consequently, an understanding of the determinants influencing East London adolescents’ happiness and sadness is needed, given their under-representation in mental health research. Our research aims to produce locally situated knowledge to examine determinants shaping East London adolescents’ happiness and sadness.

Our study engaged adolescents using Photovoice, a qualitative method within a community-based participatory research methodology. Data was analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Adolescents underscored gratitude for nature and its positive impact on happiness, connecting nature to memories, appreciation, and leisure opportunities. Concerns arose about the fragility of nature in response to urban development. The urban environment was perceived as imposing, inspiring, and offering therapeutic benefits blighted by pollution. Beautiful areas are described as paradisical and lacking, revealing disparities in urban development and economic productivity. Our findings underscore the bidirectional interplay between environmental factors and adolescents’ happiness and sadness.

Implications extend to multiple stakeholders and can be inform the “Health in All Policies” approach. Participatory research proves valuable for granting adolescents autonomy in addressing misrepresentation. Our research documents the voices of an under-researched group, revealing novel insights while potentially empowering adolescents as co-producers of mental health research. Our study, by deepening our understanding of adolescent mental health in East London, can be leveraged to bolster the effectiveness and relevance of interventions for East London adolescents.



The impact of beliefs about memory ability on cognitive skill and lived experience in older adults

Astrid Lund

Presented by Astrid Lund

Metacognition is the ability to monitor cognitive processes, thus a type of self-belief. Metacognitive beliefs are important to quality of life and may also have clinical relevance. In my PhD I have investigated how metacognition of especially memory changes through age. Through qualitative analyses of focus groups consisting of older adults aged over 65. I aimed to investigate how they develop their metacognitive beliefs about their memory ability. However, it became evident that when thinking about memory older adults automatically start to think about dementia. Thus, a main finding was the differences between those who worry and do not worry about dementia. It became evident that this was associated with a difference in focus on either ‘the self’ or ‘the other’, regarding the risk of developing the disorder, and the consequences of memory decline. Through quantitative studies, we aimed to further investigate differences in metacognition throughout the life course, recruiting 32 young and 39 old adults. We found that while young adults tend to slightly overestimate their memory abilities, older adults tend to slightly underestimate their ability. As potential explanation for this, we found a large difference in how older and younger adults weighs and relevant information such as memory performance when constructing their subjective metacognitive beliefs. In an ongoing study we are aiming to extend these findings to a clinical population. As we are recruiting older individuals with and without a clinical diagnosis of mild cognitive decline, which is a high-risk state of dementia.


Flood disasters and their impact on human health

Antonio Leon

Can transparency incentivize politicians to improve bureaucratic selection, a key determinant of state capacity? This paper exploits an anti-corruption program based on randomized audits that took place in Brazil between 2003 and 2015 to investigate this possibility. We find that audits induce a long-term increase in the quality of the match between the skills and tasks performed by bureaucrats. The result is entirely driven by occupations that directly affect the quality of public service delivery — such as teachers, nurses, doctors, technicians, and assistants. The improvement in bureaucratic selection is accompanied by new hires of qualified individuals, an increase in the quality of selection via civil service examination, a decrease in patronage, and an increase in wages. The results are consistent with an interpretation whereby audits permanently increase the salience of the possibility of a consequential audit taking place again in the future, thus creating sustained incentives to improve bureaucratic selection. Alternative explanations, centered in political selection or turnover, receive little empirical support.

Switching Sides: The Effects of IVR Outgroup Embodiment on Cooperative Intergroup Decision-Making

Xenia Stieger

Previous research suggests embodying an outgroup member through a full body ownership in virtual reality can reduce racial implicit biases. This bias change was found to be more robust than previous methods of perspective-taking interventions. We aim to build on this finding through a series of three studies. Study 1 and Study 2 set out to draw a comparison between conventional, 2D methods of virtual outgroup perspective-taking and VR embodiment in intra- and intergroup one-shot prisoner dilemmas. In Study 1, White male participants either play 10 rounds of a prisoner’s dilemma against their racial ingroup or their outgroup on a desktop computer. They are either given a White or Black avatar. In Study 2, different participants play the same prisoner’s dilemma but in immersive virtual reality (IVR) where they embody an ingroup (White) avatar or an outgroup (Black) avatar. In both studies, we investigate the effect of avatar on intra- and intergroup on cooperation. Afterwards, we examine if there is a difference between behaviour on a desktop computer and IVR. We hypothesise that participants playing the prisoner’s dilemma in IVR will show more cooperative behaviour towards Black opponents when given a Black avatar than participants given a White avatar, and participants given a Black avatar in 2D. In Study 3, we add a Black and White advisor into the virtual reality room of our participants. The advisors will tell the player with a 70% chance what the opponent will play. We will measure which advisor is chosen, whether participants believed the advisor was telling the truth and which choice was made in the prisoner dilemma. Additionally, we include a measurement of implicit racial bias.

Lightning Presentations

Julia Pointon-Haas

Daniel Benson

Katrin Hoffmann

Jessica Atkinson

Santiago Quintero

Naira Dehmel

Louiza Bartzoka

Madi Stephens

Gabriella Stringer

Fionna McLauchlan

Karina Benza

Lina Kramer

Iveta Tsenkova

Sarah O’Brien

Luis Soto



Professor Samuel Agyei-Mensah is based at the University of Ghana, and is currently Visiting Professor of Population Health at Imperial College London. Also Currently the Director and Project Leader respectively of the Andrew Mellon Foundation funded Centre for Teaching and Learning Innovation (CTLI) and Building the Next Generation of African Academics (BANGA) project funded by Carnegie Foundation, New York.

Pietro Panzarasa is a Professor of Networks and Innovation at Queen Mary University London and the director of the LISS-DTP. Pietro’s research concerns the structural foundations of social capital within networked communities. He frequently collaborates with people in industry and policymaking. Pietro is passionate about engaging with the next generation of social science researchers to push the boundaries of conventional methodologies and expand insights generated within the Social Sciences.


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