Niamh Oeri

Interview with Niamh Oeri, a SGS-CLM member who completed her PhD on the topic “Self-regulation development in early childhood”

You finished your PhD this year – congratulations! Can you briefly describe what your research topic was about?

Thank you very much. I looked into self-regulation development in children. A developmental model served as the theoretical foundation for my doctoral studies. By means of experimental studies we examined the theoretically assumed relations between the different self-regulation components. We conducted three experimental studies and tested children between the ages of 3 to 10. 

Why did you choose to do your PhD? What was your motivation?

During my master thesis I realised how much fun scientific work is. I enjoyed testing kids and all of a sudden statistics did not seem so difficulty anymore, when actually working on a “real question”. I knew that if I would do a PhD it had to be in the field of child development. So I was very lucky when there was an open position right after I finished my master studies.

You successfully defended your PhD Thesis. How did you prepare for the defence of your dissertation?

I read a lot. I re-read big developmental theories and related the viewpoints to my research. I also read recent publications of my two supervisors and read about the fields they were most proficient in. Thereby, I always tried to relate the research to mine. For example, I read about self-regulation skills of primates, dog, or dolphins.
For the presentation itself, I first summarised my own work but then tried to work out remaining questions in the field and suggested possible routes for further research.

What are your plans for the future?

I enjoyed the PhD very much. Reading, conducting research, answering questions for myself and generating new ones are things I really enjoy doing. Therefore, a post doctoral position is definitely one of the options I’m considering at the moment. More generally, the plan for my future is to find something I truly enjoy doing. Of course, it would be great if that would be within academia, but if it is not that is ok too.

Do you have any advice you would like to give to future PhD students?

My advice would be with regard to the publication process, which can be a very difficult one. So, regardless of how much work you put into a study, writing the paper, respectively, never take criticism personally. On most issues, there are as many different opinions as there are people. So if someone disagrees with your work, he or she is just looking at it from a different angle, nothing more, nothing less.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

That’s a very difficult question to answer, since I cannot say now, if my postdoc plans will work out. Nevertheless, to give you a more specific answer: I see myself happy and content in my private life as well as in my professional life.