The University of Newcastle, Australia

Associate Professor Penny Buykx joins the School of Humanities and Social Science

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Associate Professor Penny Buykx has joined the School of Humanities and Social Science and the Healthy Communities and Social Futures Cluster.

Penny Buykx

A behavioural scientist whose research examines public health implications for alcohol and substance use Associate Professor Buykx has spent the last four years as a Senior Research Fellow at The University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research. Prior to this she was Senior Research Fellow at Monash University’s School of Rural Health.

Now in Newcastle, Penny is focused on drawing together her experiences in the United Kingdom and Australia around substance use, public health policy, health service systems and rural health.

“I’m keen to develop a research program which incorporates all of these and which is well-connected to the needs and interests of local communities and partner organisations. I am also excited by the fact that I am now working with colleagues from a range of humanities disciplines as I think these interactions will challenge me to think differently about both what the important research questions are and also how to answer them,” Penny said.

Her role with the Healthy Communities and Social Futures Clusteris an evolving one and includes working with other cluster staff to develop the cluster’s research profile.

“I have a strong background in interdisciplinary research and will be looking out for opportunities for people within the cluster and beyond to connect their research where potential synergies exist. I also anticipate contributing at a School level to ensuring we maximise our research impact. In terms of teaching, I am contributing to the research methods course for Social Work.”

While at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, Associate Professor Buykx became involved in several major public health research projects, including one evaluating the impact of recently introduced minimum unit alcohol pricing policy in Scotland.

She was also involved in a project investigating access to alcohol treatment in English local authorities and how the prevalence of alcohol dependence would change if the level and mix of service provision were to alter.

Many of her favourite academic moments involve collaboration with her colleagues in Australia and the UK.

“Whether that be the intense work in the lead up to submitting a grant application, scratching our heads as we work our way through a knotty analytical problem together, or celebrating the acceptance of a paper. As someone who was never very good at sports, academic life has given me plenty of opportunities to play with great teams - and with the assistance of technology you don't even need to be in the same country!”

“Likewise, I've had some wonderful experiences engaging with community members and policy and practice stakeholders and have had the privilege of meeting a whole host of people working towards improved health outcomes for their communities.”

“When returning to Australia my family decided we wanted to settle in a regional city with an excellent University, fantastic climate and beautiful coastline. Need I say more? Newcastle was the obvious choice! I feel very fortunate to have found a position with the School of Humanities and Social Science.”


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