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Southampton lecturer recognised at national public health awards

Dr Sara Morgan

A Southampton lecturer has received national recognition for her contribution to public health research.

Dr Sara Morgan, Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Southampton, was announced as the winner of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Public Health England (PHE) Early Career Researcher award, at a virtual event on 27 May 2021.

The awards ceremony, which was originally due to be held in Manchester in April 2020, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Morgan is the first ever winner of the award, which was developed by the NIHR and PHE to recognise public health professionals who are active in research.

Dr Morgan has made a significant contribution to public health research, having received NIHR grants to run several public health projects, including a project that investigated a domestic abuse prevention model and an evaluation of a new out-of-court intervention for young adult offenders.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, Dr Morgan has continued her research, exploring ways in which we can support children and young adults who have been badly affected by the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

Upon receiving her award, Dr Morgan said: “I’m honoured to receive this award and pleased that violence prevention research is gaining recognition. I hope that this area of work continues to gain the attention it deserves – particularly to support early prevention for families and communities affected and to reduce health inequalities.

“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of public health research and its role in shaping policy and informing decision-making.”

Professor Julie Parkes, a local NIHR Specialty Lead for Public Health, added: “Many congratulations to Sara on the receipt of the prestigious national NIHR/PHE Early Career Researcher award. I am thrilled that Sara's work has been recognised in this way.

“This award is very well deserved for her outstanding contribution to research in Health & Justice, in particular in the field of domestic violence and abuse, in improving life chances and wellbeing for young people and reducing health inequalities. The importance of such public health research has always been identified but has been especially highlighted as a key priority during and following the pandemic.”

Prof John Newton, PHE’s Director for Health Improvement, said: “This award is very well deserved. It is a great opportunity to recognise the importance of research on the wider impacts of the pandemic as well as the enormous contribution made by early career scientists to public health research more generally.”

Looking ahead, Dr Morgan is planning other public health research projects which will focus on understanding how exposure to violence impacts on behaviour and chronic disease, and how we can work with schools and the police to support children.

She also plans to undertake a national evaluation of Project CARA, an intervention designed to raise awareness of domestic violence and abuse, to explore outcomes for victims and families affected.