Deputy Director joins public health and wellbeing team

  • Date

    Wed 4 May 22

Dr Robert Stawski, photographed looking relaxed. Picture courtesy of Oregon State University.

Dr Robert Stawski is the latest member of staff to join the core team of the Institute of Public Health and Wellbeing (IPHW) as Deputy Director.

Dr Stawski, who joins Essex from Oregon State University, is a leading figure in studying the social, psychological and biological elements of people’s everyday lives to help us better understand mental, physical, and cognitive health in adult development and aging.

Attracted to the IPHW by the opportunity to positively impact people’s health and wellbeing, he cites three specifics that led him to Essex’s newest research centre: “First, the mission and pillars of the IPHW, which I found inspirational and consistent with my goals; second, the ability to join ‘at the ground floor’ and contribute to the development and growth of a novel interdisciplinary infrastructure; and finally to enhance opportunities for my own research to have greater societal impact.”

Dr Stawski - who is most proud of a 2019 paper in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine which showed that emotional reactions to minor stressors in daily life were associated with poorer attentional focus among older adults – is excited about the challenges ahead at Essex.

“Effecting change in and promoting health and wellbeing is an interdisciplinary endeavour requiring collaboration, partnership, and cooperation across multiple sectors and stakeholders, including those whose health and wellbeing we seek to benefit.

“Ensuring that all the necessary expertise, perspectives, and voices are brought together to identify and address real-world needs is a critical challenge. One, however, that is certainly worth the effort,” Dr Stawski said.

He brings with him a wealth of expertise, specifically in the importance of developing and maximizing methods of studying people’s everyday lives - through approaches such as daily diaries, ecological momentary and ambulatory assessments – to understand how environmental and social factors and experiences influence health and wellbeing.

IPHW Director, Professor Mariachiara Di Cesare, added: “We are very excited to have Rob joining the Institute. Rob will play a key role in leading and shaping the future of the Institute in understanding the fundamental psychological and biological underpinnings of wellbeing. He brings an outstanding amount of experience and research excellence working with different stakeholders and ensuring the robust research with local, national, and global impact.”

Dr Stawski has been studying stress and health since he was a research student. He is inspired to ensure his work has a direct impact on people’s everyday lives in part by his wife, a pediatric occupational therapist, who he says is “able to directly improve the health, wellbeing and quality of life of the children and families she works with.”

“I look forward to working with Chiara to develop and establish the IPHW as the flagship resource for leading, coordinating, supporting, and maximizing impactful health- and wellbeing-related research efforts among the Essex community, our external partners and stakeholders, and the communities we serve at large,” he added.

Header image courtesy of Oregon State University.