Shane Murphy

Country of origin: United States

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Tennessee

Before I accepted an invitation to study for my PhD Economics degree at Lancaster University, I told my future advisors that my goal was to become a professor of economics, and they told me that would be their goal too. At Lancaster, I felt that my advisors always supported me and helped me work towards my goal, and I would not be where I am without such help. I am very grateful to them and to the University for this, and I am very happy with my time at Lancaster University. My doctoral research used large data sets to study hospital quality, and my advisors were very willing to work with me exploring new big data methods.

When I arrived, my cohort consisted of less than ten students, and we quickly became very close. We took some classes together and worked as teaching assistants for the same undergraduate classes, so we frequently met to discuss our teaching and to discuss our coursework. Throughout the process, our cohort was supportive of each other and we grew very close. Generally, very few students do not finish their PhD, and my cohort was not an exception.

The Department of Economics was very supportive of my studies. The staff was very friendly and supportive. The choices of coursework and of teaching assignments were sometimes limited, but if there was ever a conflict, the department was flexible and accommodating, and finishing our PhD was always prioritised. The faculty and other graduate students in the department are excellent. I was treated like a peer by the faculty and have good relationships with many faculty members and students from other cohorts, regardless of whether we took a course together or only met in the hallways. There was also financial support for taking short courses and obtaining data, both of which I took advantage of and which were very useful for my work.

Lancaster has a variety of student organisations and activities. I was involved in Green Lancaster, a volunteer group centred on environmentalism and agriculture. I also enjoyed jogging, hiking, and biking through the countryside. The nearby city of Lancaster is nice, with good amenities, sites, and train access. I didn’t know how much I would love living here, but I truly did.

I am currently at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center where I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Health Services and Policy Research Group in the Department of Preventive Medicine. My work here is building upon my previous work in hospital quality. I am also working on issues in health disparities and cost-effectiveness.