This summer Dr. Sarah McKenzie will be joining the Men’s Health Research team as a postdoctoral fellow and researcher. Dr. McKenzie is based in New Zealand where she holds a postdoctoral fellowship from the University of Otago and Marsden Fund Fast-Start Grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand. Her work focuses on how gender influences men’s experiences of mental illness-related stigma and how media in New Zealand portrays men’s health and illness.
To welcome Dr. McKenzie to the MHR team, I asked her to do a short Q&A to find out more about her life and research:
GM: Tell me a little bit about your academic background.
SM: In 1999 I completed a Bachelor of Science in Anatomy with honors at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. I came to New Zealand in 2001 and worked for a number of years in anatomical pathology working in laboratories before deciding lab work wasn’t for me. I completed a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Otago in 2009 followed by a PhD exploring masculinities and men’s mental health in 2017.
GM: Can you tell me a little more about your research interests and how have they evolved throughout your career?
SM: While I started off as biomedical scientist, as my education progressed I morphed into a social scientist. My training in Public Health sparked my interest in the various causes of mental illness. After many years I began to feel frustrated that the research methods I was using left me with more questions than answers. I became more and more interested in qualitative methods and what they could offer in terms of understanding the social context of mental health. It was my PhD that really solidified my current passion for qualitative research methods and social theory in men’s mental health research.
GM: That’s so interesting! Can you tell me a little bit about the research you will be doing with MHR in the coming months?
SM: Both my postdoctoral fellowship and Marsden Fund research projects align nicely with the work being done at MHR. Professor John Oliffe is co-supervising my postdoc which is looking at the influence of gender on men’s lived experiences of mental illness related stigma. John is also a co-investigator on my Marsden project which is a photovoice study with young Maori and non-Maori men in New Zealand with experience of suicidality. Men’s health research is scarce in New Zealand so it’s great to find a home for my research with the MHR.
GM: Your current Marsden research uses visual methods to capture men’s lived experiences of suicidality. What led you to pursue this work?
SM: During my PhD I read a lot of the research coming out of MHR and was inspired by the diverse research that was being undertaken, in particular the use of photovoice with men. The Marsden Fund encourages creative and innovative research, visual methods in mental health research with men seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Given the similarities between New Zealand and Canada in terms of their physical landscapes, the use of photovoice seemed ideal for capturing men’s lived experiences.
GM: Thanks for sharing all of that with us, we’re excited to have you join us at MHR. Now we’ll switch things up a bit. What are your interests outside of work and research?
SM: In New Zealand we love our DIY! My partner and I own, what we kiwis call, a “doer-upper.” So, much of our time is spend demolishing, rebuilding, plastering and painting! I also love travelling and the outdoors…there’s plenty to choose from in NZ!
GM: And to finish up, what is one fun fact about yourself?
SM: Despite having lived in New Zealand for 18 years people often think I’ve just arrived! It must be that Edinburgh accent with a tinge of Glaswegian that I’ve never got rid of!
Sarah will be working with MHR for the duration of her postdoctoral fellowship. You can read more about Sarah in the About section of our website!