Claire Zhang

claire zhang

Clarendon Fund and St Cross College Juel-Jensen Scholarship

Joining us from: Adelaide, Australia

DPhil Population Health (2021)

I was born in Xi’an, China, and migrated to Adelaide, Australia at the age of five. I completed a Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) at The University of Queensland and worked as a speech and language therapist in paediatric hospitals in Australia and the UK. During this time, I became very interested in health inequalities, particularly the health of minority ethnic populations, migrants, and people who are involuntarily displaced by conflict and disaster. I completed a MSc in Population Health at University College London (UCL) as a Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholar 2019-20 and subsequently worked in the public health data science team at UCL Institute of Health Informatics where I continue to be an Honorary Researcher. Alongside my current studies, I work as the National Migrant Health Lead in the UK’s new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities.

Since working for the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities, I have had the opportunity to develop national guidance and influence policy-making to improve healthcare access and health outcomes for migrants and other socially excluded populations in the UK.

Currently, I am studying a DPhil in Population Health in the Nuffield Department of Population Health (National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit) under the supervision of Associate Professor Claire Carson, Professor Maria Quigley and Associate Professor Clare Bankhead (Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences). I will be investigating ethnic inequalities in infant and paediatric healthcare utilisation in England using electronic health record data, with a focus on preventive care and potentially avoidable care.

As I began drafting my DPhil application with my supervisors in 2019, I never thought that my area of interest would soon become front-page news; the stark ethnic disparities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call that, more than ever, we need strong public health research to support evidence-informed policy decisions.

Aside from my studies and my work, I am a Trustee for Art Refuge, a charity that uses art and art therapy to support refugees, asylum seekers and other displaced populations in the UK and internationally. The arts have always been a passion of mine, and over the years I have dabbled in painting, ceramics, mixed media arts and music (violin, guitar, singing). 

I am so grateful to the Clarendon Fund and St Cross College for providing me with the financial support to pursue my research interests, and for providing me with the opportunity to learn from an extraordinary community of scholars and researchers. Following my doctoral studies, I hope to continue working in the field of ethnicity and migration health and split my time across research and public health policy at a national or international level.

St Cross College has been a very welcoming graduate community, and it has been such a refreshing experience to find common ground (or at least engage in a healthy debate over a delicious meal) with people from all over the world with such diverse backgrounds and interests.