Louise Aukland

Mindfulness and public engagement

My pathway to what I do now is a varied one, but there has always been an interest in science communication, particularly to young people. Following a degree in biological sciences in Oxford, I went on to complete an MSc in Forestry and then worked in international climate change policy for a number of years. I retrained as a secondary science teacher, working in local schools for about 15 years.

I developed an interest in the brain after working with Holly Bridge and my science students on a couple of Royal Society Partnership Grant projects. In parallel, I was developing my personal interest in mindfulness and training to teach it in secondary schools. I began to wonder why we don’t teach young people more about the brain from an early age. Would this help young people to better understand the role of the brain in emotional and behavioural self-regulation? What strategies could they use to help build their resilience?

I joined the MYRIAD (my resilience in adolescence) team at the Department of Psychiatry as a researcher. I review the social and emotional provision of the study schools as well as coordinate the public engagement programme. We have developed interactive workshops for the study schools on “the teenage brain”, linking the neuroscience, cognition and resilience research.