Today’s blog in SDRC’s series from PhD Students and Early Career Researchers is by Ilaria Pina. You can read the full blog series so far here, and keep up to date with the rest of the series, as well updates of all SDRC activity by following us on Twitter. 

Hi! I’m Ilaria and I’m an Italian PhD student in the second year at Stirling University. Prior to joining the University of Stirling I worked as a physiotherapist in care homes for four years. There, I helped people living with dementia and their relatives, and I learned from them empathy and different alternative ways to communicate.

My research project at Stirling is on the factors that determine successful and healthy ageing compared to abnormal function decline (both for cognitive and physical aspects). My main interest is how mobility changes through ageing; my first experiment analysed the way people walk and how this relates to everyday changes in self-reported memory. I found that more stable and secure walking was observed in participants who reported better memory. This finding suggest that physical functions, such as walking, may mirror cognitive functions.

In a current, large-scale project, we are assessing physical activity, walking behaviour, and muscle strength as possible discriminators of healthy ageing and cognitive decline in different socio economic groups (both in developed and developing countries).

Due to my background, I really appreciate working in an interdisciplinary group and get the most out of my colleague’s knowledge and expertise. Stirling University is such an amazing hub for collaborative research.

Outside of work I love join and volunteer in groups and fitness classes for older adults in the local area.