Dr Robyn Dowlen
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Place of work / study:
Centre for Cultural Value, University of Leeds
Area of Research:
Cultural Value; Culture, Health and Wellbeing
How is your research funded:
AHRC, Arts Council England, Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I am a postdoc researcher at the Centre for Cultural Value which aims to enhance understanding of the difference arts and culture make to people’s lives and society, by making research more accessible and by supporting the cultural sector to capture and evaluate the value it produces. In my role I synthesize and summarise research to help make it as accessible as possible to a range of stakeholders. My current focus is an extensive review of research and practice relating to culture, health and wellbeing which includes the role of culture in the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia.
I finished my PhD in 2019 which examined the ‘in the moment’ musical experiences of people living with dementia. After my PhD I spent a year working on the Neighbourhoods and Dementia Study at the University of Manchester. Since 2018 I have been the vice-chair of the British Society of Gerontology’s Creative Ageing Special Interest Group.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
I once sang for the Queen on her Birthday in Albert Hall.
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
My grandma had dementia, although this was not diagnosed until very late in her life. She was a very glamorous woman, always dressed to perfection. As her dementia progressed she was no longer able to maintain this glamorous aesthetic herself, and I think with this she lost a core part of her self-identity. I therefore wanted to work in dementia in order to help people with dementia to maintain their sense of self throughout the progression of their dementia, and I think music is a really important way of facilitating this.