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Samdal was certified as a teacher at Bergen University college in 1990, and in 1992 she completed her master studies in Nutrition, health and environmental issues at Stabekk University College. In 1999 she defended her dr.philos degree at the University of Bergen, [[Faculty of Psychology], with the thesis School as a work environment for students.
After her master study Samdal worked one year as a teacher at Misje school in the municipality of Fjell kommune outside Bergen before she in 1993 entered as an employee at the Research Centre for Health Promotion (now Department of Health Promotion and Development). During the following years she started out as a PhD candidate, later worked as a university lecturer and post doctor. In 2002 Samdal got a permanent position as Associate Professor of Health Promotion/Health Psychology at the Research Centre for Health Promotion. From 2007 she is professor in the same position, now at the Department of Health Promotion and Development.
In her research Oddrun Samdal has taken a special interest in adolescent health and health behaviours. She has done extensive studies of how students’ perceive their work environment at school and how these experiences relate to their reported health behaviours, health and life satisfaction. Similarly she has studied correlates of physical activity in young people. Samdal has also taken a special interest in intervention studies addressing both implementation and effect studies of health promotion initiatives in schools and adolescents' leisure settings.
Oddrun Samdal has volunteered at several occasions to community service at the University of Bergen. During 2004-2005 she was the department chair at the Department of Health and Education that was established the same year. The following year she was asked to become the vise dean of education at the Faculty of Psychology and served in this position until 2009. She has also formed part of the Equity committee at the University of Bergen.
Samdal has further served in several national and international positions. From 1999-2004 she was appointed to form part of the first national board of physical activity in the Directorate of health under the Ministry of Health. During the same period she was also member of the Child and Family board of the Norwegian national Association of Public Health. Samdal has further served in several evaluation committees for the Directorate of Education.
Internationally, Samdal has since 1999 served as the International Data Manager in the Health Behaviour in “School-aged Children Survey. A WHO Cross-National Survey” (HBSC). Currently more than 40 countries in Europe and North-America participate in the study and every fourth year nationally representative data from 11-, 13- and 15- year olds are collected and thereafter cleaned at put together at the Databank at the University of Bergen. The Cleaning and the storage of the data takes place at the Norwegian Social Science Data Services and data from the study are made available to external researchers.
From 1993-2009 Samdal served as the Norwegian national coordinator of the European network of Health Promoting Schools (now Schools for health in Europe). Throughout 10 years she worked closely with 10 pilot schools in Norway to develop models for implementing health promotion in school. These models were later taken forward in the national intervention projects “Physical activity and healthy meals in schools” and “All day school”.
Currently, Samdal is work package leader in two EU (FP7) funded projects; PAPA (Promoting adolescent health through physical activity in the leisure setting) and SPOTLIGHT (……).
Samdal is fluent in English and Spanish and has had long term (6-18 months) research visits at Sydney University (1995) San Diego State University (2001) and University of Valencia (2010-2011).
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