Leadership in Action Reflections

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I spent my Leadership in Action summer working with the Durham Infancy and Sleep Center. The Infancy and Sleep Center researches various aspects of infant sleep and behaviour to provide knowledge on safer infant sleep for parents. 

I was delighted to be able to work alongside the sleep lab and assist them in their research over the last summer. My summer project involved a variety of independent and leadership opportunities. These included leading the recruitment for a new study the lab is carrying out by filtering out interested participants and selecting those who were eligible, as well as calling participants up to explain the study to them in full. I also did some research on the topic of the study so I could produce a literature review for my supervisor. I put together a coding scheme for the data collected and was placed in charge of teaching this coding scheme to research assistants hired by the sleep lab and leading them through the coding process. Finally, I was placed in charge of creating, distributing and receiving ethical approval for a survey on the same topic. 

Working with the sleep lab on this project has allowed me to gain new experiences in leadership as well as independent work. I had never been placed in charge of teaching and leading others so being in charge of a team of research assistance was daunting, to say the least. However, I took the time to organise and layout a training day for the assistants. I also wrote up a detailed document for them on how to code to make it easier for them. Putting together these resources and seeing it all come together on the training day as well as overseeing a part of the project I had worked hard on was incredibly rewarding. 

There were times I struggled with the responsibility placed on me, especially in terms of time management and organisation. In the beginning, it became overwhelming very quickly to look at the variety of tasks I had to undertake, especially as having an active leadership role and being in charge of others was a new experience for me. However, I was able to break down the larger tasks into smaller more manageable sections for me to complete and by the end, I was able to keep on top of everything. 

I think the Leadership in Action experience has not only helped me to develop as a leader but has also improved my time management and communication skills through having to manage not only myself but also a team, as well as communicate with a variety of other members of staff. I would like to thank my supervisor Helen Ball for supporting me throughout the project and the Laidlaw Foundation for allowing me to explore aspects of leadership and research I would never have been able to explore otherwise, and for helping me grow as a leader.

Hannah Huysmans

Student, Durham University

I am an Anthropology student at Durham with a particular interest in global health. My research will focus on neonatal health and behaviour patterns of newborns, with a particular interest relating to the North-East. Outside of Anthropology I enjoy modern history, cooking and learning German.