Text Size

Gareth Cochrane

PhD student: Gareth Cochrane

Gareth Cochrane

Academic background

MSci Physics and Applied Mathematics at Queens University Belfast.


Title of project

Social networks in School-age teenagers and substances abuse behaviours


Project outline

This PhD project with the investigation of longitudinal network data seeks to understand the effect and influence that social networks have on substance misuse behaviours in adolescents. The project is in collaboration with the Institute of Child Care Research who began the Belfast Youth Development Study (BYDS) in 2001. BYDS has followed a cohort of approximately   ~4,500  young people who have been surveyed annually since they entered post primary education aged 11/12.  The network data within this study shall be explored to better understand the mechanisms of peer influence and peer selection within the school environment so as to better inform public health interventions in the future. This will involve the use of the Simulation Investigation for Empirical Network Analysis (SIENA) software program, developed by Snijders et al. which implements the stochastic actor-oriented model where-by actors change their behaviour and their network ties in response to the current network structure and the behaviour of the other actors in the network. As both the social network and the individual characteristics of interest are dynamic, this method allows one to explore the issue of autocorrelation.



Prof Frank Kee (School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences)

Dr Kathryn Higgins (Institute of Child Care Research, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work)

Dr Jim McCann (School of Mathematics and Physics)

Period of studentship

October 2009 – September 2012