Dr Eugene Lee Davids

Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Cape Town

Dr Eugene Lee Davids, is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Adolescent Health Research Unit, Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The 27-year-old has achieved significant progress in his career to date, having been awarded many prestigious awards and fellowships including the Winifred McKinnon Educational Trust Scholarship, Abe Bailey Fellowship, Mandela Rhodes Scholarship, and an Erasmus Mundus Travel Grant.

He was also recently elected as a member of the South African Young Academy of Science, awarded a National Research Foundation Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowship and elected as a Donald J Cohen International Scholar in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Davids grew up in Cape Town, and chose to study psychology based on a suggestion by his teacher at Spes Bona High School. His interest in research grew after completing his internship, and later led to his doctoral study, which aimed to develop and test a model examining the role of parenting styles in adolescent health decision-making in a rural community in the Western Cape.

His current research is aimed at developing and validating an instrument to measure adolescent health decision-making in South Africa. “There is a gap in our understanding of what drives health decision-making among adolescents,” he explains.

“Decisions around risky sexual behavior, and other risky behaviors engaged in at this age, could have a lifelong impact on health and well-being.” He hopes that his research will support local and global understanding of the decision-making processes in adolescents, in order to support policy-making and interventions that may reduce the burden of disease among adolescents later in life. He is also the co-supervisor on five master’s degree students’ research projects that range from examining the role of autonomy-supportive parenting in first-year university student adjustment to a project examining the role of parenting in self-harming behavior of youth in South Africa.

“I am passionate about teaching, so I enjoy co-supervising students on their masters projects … and helping to make academic research more accessible,” he says. Davids also co-facilitates a series of clinical research development workshops for clinical staff at UCT and the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, where he develops the research knowledge and skills of clinical staff. He has published over 15 book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has co-edited a book examining the familial home environment in development from the perspective of self-determination theory.

— Tracy Burrows

Twitter: @eugened07