26 Sep 22 | News

Meet a researcher

Juliette Van Beek

Urban Development and Mobility Department

I have always been active in sports, and even though I grew up in a relatively small village, there were plenty of sports facilities to choose from. Not only do I enjoy exercising, it also helps me relieve stress and maintain social contacts. From this perspective, I am interested in learning why less and less people are sufficiently active nowadays, and how to stop this trend. I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on this topic during my PhD.

My PhD project is part of SURREAL, a Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) project, which aims to develop a comprehensive and integrated understanding of the complex relationships between exposures to environments, behaviors and urban health. In a group of 15 Early Stage Researchers, we use a systems approach to tackle current issues in urban health, through performing innovative research, using co-creation and collaborative methods with academics, stakeholders, and citizens. My project will focus on changes in peoples’ living environment and how these changes relate to their physical activity levels over time.

We see this shift in health policies, where the responsibility for practicing healthy behavior shifts from individual to governmental levels. This has all to do with the current global trends in ill health and rise of non-communicable diseases: instead of talking about sick individuals, we have to start talking about sick populations, and ways to improve their health. This asks for a multidisciplinary approach, where not only health behaviors are considered, but also the living environment where this behavior is practiced. Are people becoming more sedentary because of personal preferences, or is it because the living environment changed in such a way that it is a real challenge to be sufficiently active. I will investigate these associations by examining multiple assets of the environment, such as neighborhood greenness and social structures in peoples’ everyday life.

Talking about changes, I moved from the Netherlands and started this PhD at LISER a year ago now. Many good things have happened to me after arriving in Luxembourg, and I still have a couple of years ahead of me. Eventually I would like to end up in a position where my contribution leads to a more active and healthy population. I will let time tell where that will be and whether it is in research or policymaking.

Link to her profile