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Samia Akhter-Khan is a PhD candidate at the Health Service & Population Research Department. Her PhD project, supervised by Rosie Mayston and Matthew Prina, focuses on older adults’ loneliness in Southeast Asia. Applying both quantitative and qualitative methods, she explores the relationship between unpaid productive activities, such as caregiving and volunteering, and older adults’ loneliness from Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar. Samia received a PhD fellowship from the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes and a KCL Public Engagement Grant for her participatory action research project in northern Thailand.

Prior to joining King’s in 2021, Samia completed a BSc and MSc degree in Psychology at the Humboldt University Berlin. During her studies, she also spent a semester at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, two semesters at Duke University in the US, and one year in Myanmar for her master’s thesis research on older adults’ loneliness. In Myanmar, Samia volunteered with a local human rights organization and worked for HelpAge International.

Since 2020, she has been working for Boston University School of Medicine investigating pathways from loneliness to Alzheimer’s disease using data from the Framingham Heart Study. For this work, Samia received the NIH-funded Framingham Heart Study Brain Aging Program pilot grant from Boston University. At King’s, Samia also worked on a World Health Organization report on climate change and healthy ageing.

Research Interests

Samia is interested in ageing and global mental health research, with a specific focus on exploring solutions to older adults’ loneliness. Her research applies interdisciplinary approaches, mixed methods, participatory action research, implementation science, and aims to foster international collaborations. Samia’s interests include valuing older people’s contributions, bridging the gap between science and practice, and early intervention.

  • Ageing
  • Loneliness
  • Care and unpaid productive activities
  • Mental health in Southeast Asia
  • Mixed methods
  • Precision health
  • Participatory Action Research

Expertise and Public Engagement

Samia is passionate about science communication and networking, within and across academic and non-governmental sectors. She is a member of the Myanmar-Institute, a network of researchers working on issues relating to Myanmar. Following the military coup in 2021, Samia has been writing blog posts and newspaper articles, organising political campaigns, and helping journalists and activists leaving Myanmar.

At Duke University, Samia became a member of the Duke Revaluing Care in the Global Economies Network, where she mentored students from different disciplines interested in valuing informal unpaid care. She is also a member of the UK-based Early Career Loneliness Researcher Network.

Within these networks, Samia has participated in and helped organise several international conferences. Part of Samia’s PhD research has been discussed by Duke network members at a working paper seminar on valuing care and at the Early Career Loneliness Researcher Network’s journal club. For updates on future projects and public engagement, follow Samia on Twitter.