Seven Questions with Tayla McCloud

This week we caught up with Psychiatry PhD student Tayla, who is carrying out the SENSE study, a UCL-wide survey of student wellbeing and mental health. Tayla chats to us about her experience undertaking a PhD at UCL and top tips for cultural activities in London.

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future? 

For my PhD, I’m carrying out the SENSE study , a UCL-wide survey of student wellbeing and mental health. I’ve been a student for a while now and it can sometimes feel like almost everyone’s mental health suffers while studying - in the future I want to help change that, but first we need to know more. I plan to use the findings from SENSE to try to improve things for students at UCL and across the UK. I just need as many students as possible to complete the survey first!

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL? 

In the first year of my PhD I did placements at three different UCL departments. One of these was at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience with Dr Oliver Robinson, where I got to use UCL’s fMRI machine and analyse images of people’s brains. 

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL? 

Definitely Warren’s sandwich bar on Warren Street. They offer huge portions of reasonably-priced homemade food, and the staff are always cheery too. Their sundried tomato and rocket pasta is always my go-to lunch between meetings with the SENSE team, my PhD supervisors and Students’ Union UCL.

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London: 

  • The food is definitely my favourite thing about living in London. My current favourite restaurant is Sambal Shiok Laksa Bar.
  • Waterstones Gower Street does great book events and live podcast recordings. There are usually cheap student tickets, too.
  • Finally, I love almost anything the National Theatre does. I’m just about too old for the £7.50 tickets for 16-25s now and it’s very upsetting.
  • If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do? 

    I would obviously focus on student wellbeing and mental health, but there has been so little high-quality research that I wouldn’t know where to start! I designed the SENSE study to change that and will be feeding back my findings to UCL leadership in the hope that changes will be made.

    Who inspires you and why? 

    It’s cliché, but I would say my mum! She’s kind-hearted and generous, works really hard and is the funniest person I know.

    What would it surprise people to know about you? 

    Barack Obama follows me on Twitter, but it’s on a private account that I don’t use much any more. You can follow my professional account @TaylaMcCloud , or the SENSE study @SENSEstudy.


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