Next in the A-Z series is Y for Youth Awards, a programme that allows researchers to build community connections by inviting young people from local secondary schools to learn more about the work done at the IoPPN.


Celestine Lockhart, Research Assistant and PhD student

Yasmin Ahmadzadeh, Postdoctoral Research Associate








The IoPPN Youth Awards is a programme that invites young people aged 15-18 from London state schools to gain research experience at the IoPPN. The awards aim to inspire and encourage young people to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at university level and pursue a career in these areas. Students who are offered an award come to spend 2-3 days work experience during the summer holidays in one of the IoPPN departments and also receive a £50 book voucher for taking part in the awards.

“[The most helpful aspect of the awards was] Being able to meet like minded individuals that have similar interests and learn more about psychology as a whole and what a future career in it might entail..” Youth award winner 2023

Many departments within the IoPPN have hosted awards since the programme began in 2013. In 2023, involved departments include the Neuroimaging; Psychology; Biostatistics and Health Informatics; Health Service and Population Research; and Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre where the EDIT Lab is based.

The Youth Awards provide an opportunity for students to experience a university research environment, develop their understanding of their areas of interest, and practice evaluating and communicating research findings. Activities at the SGDP Centre in recent years have included Q&As with academics and health professionals; tours of our DNA Laboratory and Brain Bank; and brain imaging demonstrations. We also share information about life as a university student, including how to apply, managing finances, and what to expect in your first year.

“It increased my interest in real life application of statistics so helped me learn more about how what I study is applied in the real world.” Youth award winner 2023

The Youth Awards strive to appeal to and include students from groups currently underrepresented in UK universities. There are numerous factors driving inequality in access to UK higher education, which can be linked to students’ ethnic group, sex, where they live, secondary school type, or parents’ income and education. Based on these factors, students in the least advantaged groups experience university entry rates of below 20%, whereas rates for students in the most advantaged groups range from 50-80% (UCAS Multiple Equality Measure). The IoPPN Youth Awards help us to reach local students to support learning about university and academic careers. Participating teenagers from London state schools are diverse in their ethnicities (see 2023 data below) and often the first in their family to apply to study at university. The awards currently appeal to more girls than boys.


There are so many benefits to inviting students from the local area onto university campuses. We hope that opening up the university to local young people will demystify careers in academia and research and encourage students to pursue these topics and careers for themselves. But also, the new ideas, energy and passion that the students always bring is inspirational and prompts us as researchers to think about things in different ways. 

We are always looking for more IoPPN departments to host awards, so please get in touch if you are interested! For more information about the IoPPN Youth Awards, please visit our webpage 

Organisers: Dr Yasmin Ahmadzadeh <>, Celestine Lockhart <>, Hayley Denyer <

Celestine Lockhart

Author Celestine Lockhart

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