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Member Highlight: Heidi McGowan

1. First, list your current professional title. Second, describe your background, experience, and research as it relates to Quality-of-life studies. Feel free to describe this in detail.

Researcher-in-Chief  :)

I'm a development economist with a growing interest in environmental epidemiology.  My professional focus is currently two-fold: first, I bring experience in academic publishing to capacity-building activities surrounding best practices for designing, implementing, analyzing the data from, and writing up rigorous studies.  I'm passionate about working with junior scholars and those on non-academic career paths, and care deeply about increasing representation among researchers.  Here, I'm excited to work with ISQOLS' Dissertation Committee to organize workshops for PhD students, and possibly provide ad hoc "lightning reviews" of manuscripts to interested members.   

Second, I recently started studying the health effects of water-damaged buildings, with an emphasis on mediating factors like race, socioeconomic status, gender, and disability.  Because housing's involved, the topic is incredibly intersectional--and touches upon multiple aspects of wellbeing and quality-of-life.  :)

2.  What initially attracted you to the field of quality-of-life studies?

I suspect that many classically-trained economists recognize that the discipline's axioms (growth as traditionally defined is always good, externalities by definition don't matter, etc) can make it difficult to accurately model real-world phenomena--which has implications for everything from the climate crisis to the persistence of inequality, discrimination, and poverty.  My interest in quality-of-life studies stems from its potential to identify and address these blind spots--and ultimately to adopt better social science practices that advance the public good.     

3. What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention? Any advice for future QoL researchers?

As someone new to the field, I'm still getting a sense of the literature--so will gladly take whatever advice anyone else has to offer!

4. How long have you been a member of ISQOLS? Why did you choose to be a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?

I became an ISQOLS member in February of 2021 after hearing about it from Carol Graham, who was a longtime author and reviewer for the interdisciplinary development studies journal where I handled papers (thanks, Carol!).  I joined to continue doing the capacity-building work that I love, while engaging with emerging research/scholars and learning more about quality-of-life studies.  My involvement has thus far been both professionally and personally fulfilling--meeting new people (well, remotely!) that I wouldn't have otherwise crossed paths with, coordinating some hopefully constructive dissertation sessions, and participating in several super-educational events (the conference, webinars, etc).  More generally, I really appreciate the organization's relaxed collegiality, the diversity of its offerings, and the kindness and helpfulness of the members I've met thus far. 

5. Feel free to include any other important comments or things you'd like to share with the ISQOLS community.

I look forward to meeting more ISQOLS members, increasing my understanding of the field, and contributing through the dissertation workshops.  I'm also happy to discuss potential collaborations with anyone interested in a) studying wellbeing vis-a-vis the built environment and/or b) preparing manuscripts for journal submission.

Heidi can be reached at

The International Society for
Quality-of-Life Studies

P.O. Box 118
Gilbert, Arizona, 85299, USA


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