Alfred Long, Geography, UCL

Pathway: Human Geograhy

Research area & contact details

About me: My undergraduate degree in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia fostered an interest in how data are manipulated into metrics, outcomes and results through decision making procedures. This lead to taking the MSc Urban Analytics and Smart Cities course at the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. My current research is based around looking into how the spatial and temporal behaviours of individuals using Public Transport use can be analysed with smart travel card transaction data.

My research: I will be creating tools for geolocating smartcard transaction data. This will allow analysis of the spatial and temporal behaviour, or mobility, of users over a long timeframe. The aim is to see how public transport facilitates different kinds of mobilities, bringing in issues of social inclusion and accessibility. The tools and techniques developed will be of use to any organisation or researcher looking into public transport through user behaviour.

Supervisors: Prof Paul Longley and Dr Jens Kandt


James Todd, Geography, UCL

 Pathway: Human Geography

Research area & contact details

bout me: I was born and raised in North-West London and took my undergraduate degree at UCL, in BA Geography with Quantitative Methods. Throughout my degree, I grew a passion for utilising data as it allows for an empirical understanding of real-world issues. The use of data analysis to understand and tackle issues with evidence-based solutions is what I am most interested in.

My Research: There is now an abundance of data capturing human behaviour within cities. For my PhD, I will be working with real-time data sources including traffic sensors, travel card usage and social media postings to better understand the dynamics, flows and mobility of people around cities. The initial task will be to analyse the utility of this new data source, in the form of a live feed, and explore the avenues for which it can be used to make evidence-based decisions and ‘smarter cities’.

The difference my research makes: I will create new urban mobility models to understand the vast amount of diverse, detailed data now being produced by citizens, corporations and public institutions. Currently, analysis of this kind of new data are underdeveloped and underutilised. My research aims to change this by investigating the use of live data forms and exploring new methods of its analysis. I will show that quantitative methods can be used to design solutions to improve the environment and our quality of life. Not only in London, but around the world. Understanding the new forms of data is the key to evidence-based decisions making improved choices, and it is my hope that this research will help to shape the way that cities operate and find solutions for a better way of life.

 Supervisor: Dr James Cheshire


Martina Fisk, Geography, UCL

Pathway: Human Geography

Research area & contact details

About me: After completing a BSc in Geography at Freie Universität Berlin I earned an interdisciplinary MA on climate change from Columbia University in New York City and a MSc in Science and Technology Studies from University College London. With my PhD project I am returning to geography bringing with me new ideas and skills that are informing my interdisciplinary project at the intersection of political geography and science studies.

The difference my research makes: In my PhD research I analyse the political, historical, and practical factors that affect the production of national CO2 emission numbers which are compiled in so called greenhouse gas inventories. I am investigating how international guidance on the appropriate measuring methodology is agreed upon and how it is implemented by different national governments. Furthermore, I look at how these inventories function as a tool for the creation of atmospheric state territory.

Even though CO2 emissions measurements underlie all domestic and international climate policy making and are the foundation for most solutions to the challenge of anthropogenic climate change we know very little about how these numbers are produced. My project will help to address this knowledge gap while also developing more general insights into how scientific knowledge is used to solve global environmental problems and to govern the increasing number of non-surface bound territories (e.g. cyberspace, high oceans, outer space).

Supervisor: Dr Alan Ingram

Email: / Twitter: @MartinaFisk

Hannah Sender, Development Planning Unit, UCL

Pathway: International Development

Research area & contact details

About me: Having studied for a BA and MA in English Literature, I made the switch to urban planning after working with artists in Phnom Penh, whose work on the city shone a light on social injustices around urban development [see I recently completed an MSc in Urban Development Planning at the Development Planning Unit. Since 2015, I have worked with Social Anthropologist Henrietta Moore at the Institute for Global Prosperity. I draw upon this diverse work and educational experience in my PhD.

My reasearch: In my PhD, I set out to identify civil society urban planners who I see as having non-sectarian subjectivities, and as actors who respond to emergent subjectivities of other urban inhabitants. I examine the relationship between non-sectarian modes of subjectivity and urban planning issues through a comparative study of two cities, one of which will be in Lebanon. I am particularly interested in investigating young urban inhabitants’ subjectivities. I plan to do so using qualitative and creative methodologies, such as creative writing and photography.

The difference my reasearch makes: This PhD will bring to the fore and examine emergent subjectivities in relation to sustainable and inclusive resource management agendas. This important and (so far) under-researched challenge to the predominance of ethno-religious sectarianism in Lebanese urban planning could inform the work of urban planners, development practitioners and socio-political analysts. Whilst my analysis is initially going to be grounded in the Lebanese political and planning context, there will be some relevant cross-overs with other cities where political voice and participation in urban planning is extremely low, and where ethno-sectarian divides are related to the distribution of goods and services. It will also contribute to an understanding of both the potential and the limitations of non-sectarian subjectivities to overcome ‘deep differences’, particularly through sustainable and inclusive urban planning movements.

Supervisors: Professor Haim Yacobi and Professor Henrietta L. Moore

Email: / Twitter: @HannahSender / LinkedIn:

Jessica Whelligan, Department of Development Studies, SOAS

Pathway: International Development

Research area & contact details

About me/education; I completed my degree in Politics and Philosophy at the University of Bristol and then went on to study an MA in International Law at SOAS. After graduating I worked as a researcher in the area of international labour and trade union rights for a number of years, focusing particularly on informal work and worker education.

My research; I’ll be doing inter-disciplinary research into the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in the cities of developing countries with a focus on labour movements.

In asking whether BRTs are fit for purpose (is BRT really a ‘win-win’ solution for governments, the environment and the poor, as claimed by its proponents?) my research will contribute to critical debates surrounding the provision of public transport in the rapidly growing cities of the Global South, as well as to broader debates surrounding what ‘just transitions’ from informal to formal work might look like.

My PhD is a collaborative project between the Department of Development Studies, SOAS and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

Supervisors: Dr Matteo Rizzo (SOAS) and  Alana Dave (ITF)


Karl Norberg, Department of Development Studies, SOAS

Pathway: International Development

Research area & contact details

About me: I was born in Estonia some years after the fall of the Soviet Union. After high school, I studied English Literature & Philosophy for a year but having developed an interest in Marxist political economy, I decided to move to London to study Development & African Studies at SOAS. During my bachelor’s I worked in the service industry and became active in the Labour Party and the trade union movement. During this time, I also had an internship with the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from which I gained valuable experience with social research but also became disillusioned with the current framework of development cooperation practiced by states and NGOs. I believe my background and political beliefs account for my interest in the working class and 20th century socialism.

I will be researching working class formation in Tanzania during the socialist Ujamaa (1967-1985) and the postsocialist neoliberal (1985-…) eras. Based on a Marxist political economy framework, this research aims to provide a comparative historical approach to understanding class experience and its relationship to class formation. By studying the economic and political-cultural factors which impact class formation, this research aims to evaluate the (dis)continuities between the two eras, in order to understand the condition, role and potential of the working class under neoliberalism.

This research will be based on fieldwork which consists of semi-structured interviews with political agents; archival research of state, NGO, and political party reports; and a media survey of state and popular media, focusing on periodicals produced by social movements.

The difference my research makes: This research hopes to address the imbalance within postsocialist studies which has extensively concentrated on Europe by arguing for a focus on peripheral postsocialism, which acknowledges the historical legacy of colonialism and the distinctive experiences of socialism in the Global South. Furthermore, it aims to contribute to already existing class-based research by focusing on the structural processes of working class formation. More fundamentally, the research is concerned with understanding the working class as an actor in the fall of socialism and in resistance to neoliberalism.

Supervisors: Professor Alfredo Saad-Filho


Lynsey Robinson, UCL-IOE and SOAS, University of London

Pathway: International Development

Research area & contact details

About me/education: After completing an honour’s degree in History and Sociology at the University of Edinburgh in 2013, I moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to teach English for a year. Through this, I became interested in the role of private schools, particularly low cost, in low income settings. I moved to London in 2014 and in 2017, I completed an MA at UCL-IOE in Education, Gender and Development where I was able to explore the role of the private sector in education and development, through a gender lens. After completing my studies, I began working for the Equalities in Public Private Partnerships: a network of academics, policy makers and development practitioners, researching the role of PPPs in development. Through this network, I began research on quality and equality in low cost private schools in Lagos, Nigeria. Most recently, I have been working on a research project for an NGO on adolescent girls.

I am currently studying towards an MSc in Research for International Development at SOAS, University of London, as part of a 1+3 PhD programme.

My research: For this PhD, I will research the origins and effects of the rise of low cost private schools in sub-Saharan Africa, taking a political economy approach. I will critically assess current aid policies that promote and strengthen the role of the private sector in education in developing countries, such as those associated with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), United Nations (UN) agencies, the World Bank (WB), and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). This will take into consideration the political, economic and socio-cultural context within which policies are formed, as well as deploy a gender lens to consider ways in which effects of privatization can be understood and commonly evaluated. My research will be carried out in collaboration with Action Aid, a key practitioner in the field of development policy, which works to keep the work of multilateral and bilateral agencies under scrutiny with regard to the equity impacts of education privatization.

The difference my research makes:The research is intended to further an investigation into the origins and effects of privatization, particularly with regard to girls’ education and gender equality, with related work offering positive solutions around expanding the sustainable financing of free public education, in line with SDG targets.

Achieving accessible, available, quality public education is one of Action Aid’s global priorities and many countries where Action Aid works are addressing education issues related to privatization. The research is also intended to contribute to Action Aid’s advocacy and campaign work on education, at both national and international levels.

Supervisors: Prof Elaine Unterhalter and Dr Elisa Van Waeyenberge

Publications: Unterhalter, E., Robinson, L. & Ibrahim, J., 2018. Quality and Equalities: A comparative study of public and low cost private schools in Lagos,


Twitter: @equippps

Irene Maffini, The BartlettUCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

Pathway: Social and Policy Studies of Energy and the Environment

Research area & contact details

About me:  Irene Maffini is a part-time PhD student and a part-time early-stage Venture Capital investor, helping sustainability-focussed SMEs to commercialise their technologies and grow. Irene holds a first-class honours MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College (UK) and a double degree in Business & Economics from Northeastern University (US) and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italy).

Irene has more than 8 years of professional experience working across research, policy, finance and consulting in the field of clean technology commercialisation, incubation and investment, working on innovation programmes for the UK Government, the European Commission, the World Bank, the Swedish Energy Agency, UNDP, Shell and GE. Irene’s clean technology thought leadership professional work has been covered in in the Economist, Daily Telegraph, Times, BBC and leading trade publications.

My research: My academic research interests include exploring the role of crowdfunding to finance clean energy ventures/projects, and the role of the state in crowdfunding public private partnerships (PPPs) for sustainable development. In my PHD thesis, I am investigating the different roles that the international development agencies play in crowdfunding energy access partnerships with private sector and civil society actors.

The difference my research makes: My research goals are to establish whether crowdfunding and PPPs are promising policy tools to catalyse, complement and augment private-sector investment in energy access projects in developing countries and what role the state should play is in these partnerships. My ultimate goal is to produce evidence that can be used by  state entities who want to use crowdfunding to finance innovative sustainability projects in the future.

Supervisors: Prof Jim Watson and Prof Mariana Mazzucato

Publications: Energy4Impact (2018), Crowd Power, Who is the Crowd? ( )


James Shraiky, UCL, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering

Pathway: Urban Studies, Transport and Architectural Space

Research area & contact details

About me: My background includes areas of leadership for global and interprofessional programs that encompass, design, nursing, medicine, public policy, and social sciences. Before coming to UCL, I was the Director of Interprofessional Health Design Initiative and a Professor of Design at Arizona State University, USA. My recent work has included researching high child mortality rates in Central Africa, exploring questions of conflict, violence, and international development for Syrian refugees in Greece and Turkey, and redefining education in Haiti and the initial work on a health sciences campus in Port-Au-Prince.  I researched and implemented over 50 health, policy, pedagogical, and design projects worldwide, in Congo, Rwanda, Australia, Poland, Syria, Turkey as well as North America.

My research: My project reimagines refugee camps as spaces for prosperity where refugees may thrive beyond surviving. I will be critiquing the assumptions regarding refugee camps spatiality, roles and functions in comparison to camp-resident perspectives. This includes exploring refugees’ intimate and everyday spatialities in The Shatila Refugee Camp in Lebanon. The research questions interrogate the identify of camps as a complex city system and explore prosperity concepts as documented by refugees. The design for this study is qualitative descriptive (QD) with a directed content analysis approach. The sample for this study will include one hundred refugees over the age of 18 years and who have resided in the camp for at least five years and are fluent in Arabic or English. I will be asking camp residents to photograph intimate details of everyday living and how they practice prosperity concepts within camp spatialities.

The difference my research makes: The bottom-up approach for my research gives a voice to refugees’ practices in camps while providing the empirical path to use their ideologies as an impetus for policy change around camp designs and operations. By giving voices to refugees and creating a foundation for potential policy changes, the outcome of this project may pave the way for improving the quality of lives for refugees in camps as well as inform the building of better encampment environments. Ultimately, I plan on creating a design toolkit for refugee camps spaces and operation.

Supervisors: Prof Nick Tyler and Dr Christopher Harker

Selected Publications:

  • Schneider, T., Shraiky, J., Wofford, D., & Awad, R. (2017). Cultural and structural violence in the lives of Syrian refugees. Journal of Health and Human Experience, 3(2), 65-86. Retrieved from
  • Schneider, T., Shraiky, J., & Patchin, W. (2016). Starting From Zero: An Exploration of Contemporary Issues in Haiti. Journal of Health and the Human Experience, iii Volume III, No. 2, 2016
  • Wofford, D., Shraiky, J.  & Schneider, T. (2016). A Conversation with Calamity: Shedding Light on the Plight of Syrian Refugees. Journal of Health and the Human Experience, ii Volume II, No. 1, 2016.
  • Shraiky, J. & Markette, N., (2015). Pedagogical competencies: Graduate learners’ perceptions of graduate school utility in practice. The Canyon Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies. Honors Symposium. Volume 3, Issue 2.
  • Shraiky, J. & Lamb, G. (2013). Introducing studio-based learning to interprofessional education. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 1820, 110. doi: 10.3109/13561820.2013.791671
  • Lamb, G., & Shraiky, J. (2013). Designing for competence: Spaces that enhance collaboration readiness. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 1820, 110. doi: 10.3109/13561820.2013.791671.
  • Shraiky, J., Lamb, G., (2013). Designing for wellness: Utilizing an interprofessional design studio to address health needs in Central Africa. Journal of Healthcare, Science and the Humanities, 2159,8819.
  • Shraiky, J. (2012). Hybrid teaching environments: A student-based interdisciplinary case study. International Journal of Architecture, Engineering and Construction, 1911-1118.
  • Shraiky, J., Patterson, M., & Boren, S. (2012). Anthropology of architeture: Designing for culture in tribal communities. Journal of Healthcare, Science and the Humanities. Retrieved from:
  • Shraiky, J. & Voyles, L. (2012). Mapping new healthcare  infrastructure after genocide: A story of an interdisciplinary design studio in Central Africa. Health Design
  • Shraiky, J. (2012). Sensory-based design & epilepsy: Analyzing effects of design innovations on patient treatment and recovery. Architecture Research Centers Consortium Journal, 66. Retrieved from:
  • Shraiky, J. (2012). Prescribing architecture: A Critical evaluation of how design impacts health and wellness. Journal of Healthcare, Science and the Humanities.
  • Schoonover, J., & Shraiky, J. (2010). Healthcare design innovations: A hit-or-miss proposition. Australian Medical Journal, (5), 432-434. doi: 10.4066/AMJ.2010.366
  •  Shraiky, J. & Schoonover, J. (2010). Innovation in healthcare design: A critical evaluation of contemporary design trends that affect patient outcomes. Sixth Annual Design Research Conference
  • Stichler J., Davidson, S., Shraiky, J., (2009). Leadership, innovation, and healing spaces. In Porter-O’Brady, T., Malloch, K., Innovation Leadership: Creating the Landscape of Healthcare (pp. 259-273). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
  • Shraiky, J. & Schwalbe, C. (2009). Stories of health and healing. HealthE Magazine.

Tel: +44(0)744 6848648


Twitter: @james_shraiky



Madga Rojas Mora, UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences

Pathway: Linguistics

Research area & contact details

About me: I am a speech, language therapist (Fonoaudióloga) from the National University of Colombia. Throughout my university years, I developed a specific interest in deafness and children’s language and communication development. Soon after graduating, I started to work as a speech and language therapist (e.g., the José A. Rivas Clinic, the Colombia University Clinic and Sense International), and saw how hearing impairments, as well as deaf/blind, affect communication in bilingual/bicultural contexts. This has led to an interest in auditory cortical plasticity, specifically its capacity to develop in response to early experience and other environmental factors.

My research: During my MRes and PhD will effort in gaining a deep understanding of how bilingual contexts influence the brain activity of children with sensorineural hearing loss and have Cochlear Implants. Based on my professional experience, I hypothesize that an enriched sensory environment early in life will play an important, positive role in brain development.

The difference my research makes: From this perspective, it would be important to investigate whether the auditory cortex is able to adapt and take advantage of the stimuli coming from bilingual environments and how this information may shape the cortex when auditory sensory input comes through Cochlear Implants.

I believe that understanding auditory cortical plasticity can lead to introducing more effective intervention plans that will help hearing impaired populations to become more integrated into society and multilingual contexts.

Supervisors: Prof Paul Iverson and Prof Stuart Rosen


Twitter:  @MagdaRo10302875

Ria Bernard, UCL Division of Psychology & Language Sciences

Pathway: Linguistics

Research area & contact details

About me: I qualified as a Speech & Language Therapist (SLT) from University College London (UCL) in 2012 and worked in mainstream primary and secondary schools across deprived areas of south and east London before beginning my PhD. My clinical interest areas are stammering and speech sound disorders. I completed my MSc in Neuroscience at UCL, working with Professor Peter Howell to explore the impact of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) alongside fluency shaping therapy approaches on speech fluency in adults who stammer, for my dissertation. I have a particular passion for relating my clinical experiences and research work to policy development in order to influence policy-makers, and have held several positions in political and policy organisations. Consequently, I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working at the charity, Action for Stammering, as part of my doctorate to support their policy work and outreach.

My research: My PhD will seek to explore the relationship between stammering and mental health disorders in children who stammer. Current provision for adolescents who present as persistent stammerers often involves psychological approaches to aid self-esteem and tackle social anxiety. However, it remains unclear as to whether there is a relationship between stammering and mental health, and the nature of this relationship if it exists. This research aims to investigate whether children who stammer also present with specific social, emotional and mental health profiles, to aid our understanding of the likelihood of developing issues with mental health in later life.

The difference my research makes: Children and adolescents who stammer face challenges in social situations in which there is typically a high demand on verbal communication. This research aims to inform clinical understanding of the relationship between stammering and mental health, in order to aid best practice in early stammering approaches.

Supervisors: Professor Courtenay Norbury

Tel: +44(0)7891 023214


Twitter: RiaB_22

Chloe Austerberry, UCL Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology

Pathway: Psychology

Research area & contact details

About me: I am interested in developmental psychopathology and children’s socio-emotional and cognitive development. In particular I am interested in understanding the biological mechanisms that underlie child development and the influence of the early caregiving environment on child outcomes. I have a decade of research experience at leading academic institutions and charities, including the UCL Institute of Education, Coram, The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, the Yale Child Study Centre, and the UCL Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology. My bachelor’s was in Philosophy at King’s College London and I recently completed the UCL MRes in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology. Alongside the PhD, I work as a Research Officer at the Anna Freud and UCL Child Attachment and Psychological Therapies Research Unit.

My research: My PhD aims to address important and unanswered questions about the role and interplay of genes and the early caregiving environment in child learning and cognitive development. In particular I want to consider how children’s genetically-influenced characteristics may influence the amount or quality of cognitive stimulation their caregivers provide. I will examine these questions through the secondary analysis of data from the Early Growth and Development Study, a NIH funded, longitudinal adoption study, based at the University of Oregon and Pennsylvania State University. I will be studying at UCL with supervision from UCL and Birkbeck, and mentorship from Yale University. 

Supervisors: Prof Pasco Fearon and Prof Angelica Ronald


  • Redfern, S., Wood, S., Lassri, D., Cirasola, A., West, G., Austerberry, C., Luyten, P., Fonagy, P., Midgley, N. (2018). The Reflective Fostering Programme (RFP): background and development of the approach. Adoption & Fostering, 42(3) 234-248. DOI: 10.1177/0308575918790434
  • Lucas P, Jessiman T, Cameron A, Wiggins M, Hollingworth K, Austerberry C. (2013). Healthy Start Vouchers Study: The Views and Experiences of Parents, Professionals and Small Retailers in England.Bristol: University of Bristol.


Bethany Chapman, Affective and Cognitive Laboratory, Birkbeck College, University of London

Pathway: Linguistics

Research area & contact details

About me: I completed my MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology at Birkbeck College in 2017. During which time I worked with breast cancer survivors from the Building Resilience in Breast Cancer Centre (BRiC) to show a directional relationship between perceived cognitive function and the level of perceived emotional vulnerability endured. My +3 PhD project will continue to extend on this area of research.

My research: In my research, I will be conducting a longitudinal study to examine the effects of cognitive control training (i.e. dual N-back training) on improving processing efficiency and cognitive control amongst breast cancer survivors returning to work following the completion of anti-cancer treatment(s). In order to examine this, I aim to firstly identify the neurocognitive makers of cognitive dysfunction. I will then target these markers using cognitive control training to improve neurocognitive function and assess the beneficial transfer effects of this training on women’s emotion regulatory strategies and work-related performance.

By identifying the beneficial transfer effects of cognitive control training, I hope to positively aid the development of more comprehensive post-treatment support that could be offered by health care services and employers to empower resilience and sustain processing efficiency at work.

Supervisors: Professor Nazanin Derakhshan and Professor Beth Grunfeld


Twitter: @Beth_Chapman84

Brittney Chere, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London

Pathway: Psychology

Research area & contact details

About Me: I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of California, Davis in 2016 with a degree in Psychology and a degree in Human Development. During this time, I worked as a research assistant while simultaneously completing my own research project looking at how experience with a cue impacts on an infant’s ability to use said cue to guide their learning. I subsequently worked at Durham University as a research assistant for a year, and followed this with a master’s in Educational Neuroscience at Birkbeck’s Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development. My research focused on how infants pay attention and learn in noisy environments, which my current PhD at Birkbeck will continue to explore.

My Research: My PhD research will be looking at how infants learn to focus their attention on the important information in the environment, while simultaneously ignoring the distractors, in order to achieve learning. More especially, I am interested in how noisy environments may be negatively impacting on these abilities. Previous research has found that in childhood, noisy environments negatively impact on learning in formal educational settings, with potential long-term cognitive effects. My research, therefore, seeks to understand how infants, who’s brains are still greatly developing, are impacted by chronic exposure to noisy environments and what this means for their future learning outcomes.

 Impact: There is evidence showing that low income neighbourhoods are more likely to have higher levels of noise, and thus infants in such areas are at a greater risk for exposure to noisy environments. Therefore, it is incredibly important to understand how noise impacts on both attention and learning during the key period of infancy in order to best promote the development of infants in such environments.

Supervisors: Dr. Natasha Kirkham & Dr. Daniel Richardson

Room: BMA



Twitter: @brittney_chere

Xiaoliang Luo, UCL Department of Experimental Psychology

Pathway: Psychology

Research area & contact details

About me: I have a mix of academic background ranging from machine learning, data science to organisational psychology and management sciences. I did my undergraduate degree in Business Management at the University of Sheffield and a master’s in Information Science at University College London where I was particularly focusing on using machine learning/deep learning approaches to solve novel natural language processing problems such as cross-domain sentiment analysis. I spend my leisure time on reading (sci-fi, behavioural sciences mostly), listening to podcasts and playing basketball.

My research: For this PhD, I will be leveraging my knowledge in artificial intelligence and social sciences to uncover secrets in human cognition. More specifically, I will be working on using unsupervised deep learning approaches to build embedding spaces from natural images and try to relate them to neural embedding spaces extracted by fMRI combining with psychological experiments to explore the dimensionality as well as functional differences of the human brain.

The difference my research makes: A successful alignment of object embedding spaces with neural embedding spaces can reveal more insights in terms of how human perception works in our daily life. Research results can be useful in enlightening the creation of computer programmes whose information processing systems are more akin to human cognitions, which could lead to more accurate information/image retrieval and better human-computer interaction in the future. The research methodology itself is also a novel experimentation on combining cross-disciplinary resources and techniques to solve complex problems.

Supervisors: Prof Bradley Love


Layal Hussian, School of Psychology, University of East London

Pathway: Psychology

Research area & contact details

About me:While undertaking my BSc in Psychology at the University of York, I found interest in pursuing developmental and cognitive research, alongside placements in schools. Having graduated with first-class honours in 2015, I carried on to specialize with an MSc in Developmental and Educational Psychology, from the UCL Institute of Education. I chose to complete my dissertation with the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), focusing on attentional control in Autistic adults, which was an experience that was particularly valuable to me as it engaged me in research with real life implications. Following graduation, I was eager to apply my knowledge back into a school setting, and worked for two years at a bilingual school, developing curriculum and professional learning. The opportunity to directly influence a child’s education for the better and to equip teachers and staff with the tools to do so, has further inspired me to make this a life passion and incorporate it into meaningful research.

My research: My PhD’s focus is on understanding specific benefits of growing up bilingual across mainstream and complementary schools. Complementary schools are voluntary schools set up by linguistic, cultural, or religious communities and largely focus on maintaining community languages and cultures. The longitudinal project is in coordination with the Newham Partnership for Complementary Education (NPCE), and aims to firstly ascertain cognitive, social, and educational benefits of bilingual development, and then more closely examine if children who develop bilingually with the extra context of complementary schools benefit even more than their bilingual and monolingual counterparts without such schooling. Based on the findings, specific features across the complementary schools studied will also be examined and how they may especially facilitate a child’s bilingual and bicultural development.

The difference my research makes: While bilingualism benefits have been well-reported, there is still a great need to understand these benefits across different domains, longitudinally, and particularly under the additional context of complementary schools. This project is important as while much of the world can speak more than one language, in the UK there has been a steady decline in school pupils who choose to study other languages, missing out on a valuable resource. Complementary schools also play a significant role in the educational sector, and while recent research has focused on their social importance and their role in identity formation, their contributions are still largely under-researched. This project will allow for a better and necessary understanding of these issues, and will conclude with the development of resources for schools and families to promote bilingual development and language learning in children, and in doing so, hopefully contribute to better educational practice.


Supervisors: Dr. Virginia Lam and Dr. Rachel George

Aida Balafkan, Anthropology, SOAS

Pathway: Anthropology

Research area & contact details

My research: My research is about textiles and weaving in an Azeri minority community in Georgia. In the past, throughout the Caucasus nearly every woman wove rugs. Mothers would teach their daughters and pass on the knowledge and skills acquired by previous generations. Each generation ensured that practices and skills required for weaving and producing textiles were passed on to the next generation. However, many have stopped weaving after the introduction of cheap, machine-made rugs and textiles.

Despite the drop in the numbers of women weaving in the region, some women continue the weaving traditions. Each textile narrates multiple complex stories. This research is concerned with these narratives. My aim is to observe why and how some women continue weaving. The research seeks to understand the way these textiles negotiate relationships between weavers and their families and communities. Furthermore, the textiles highlight an alternative way of acquiring knowledge. Learning to weave is more than simply producing textiles. It involves learning about the environment, culture, and how one makes sense of life. The weaving practices, the relationships that are produced and/or maintained, and memories passed on from one generation to another offer an alternative way of learning about life.

Supervisors: Dr Orkideh Behrouzan and Professor Paul Basu

Cherry Briggs, Anthropology and Sociology, SOAS

Pathway: Anthropology

Research area & contact details

About me: I read Biochemistry as an undergraduate at Oxford and then trained as a Biology teacher. In 2010 I moved to Sri Lanka, to take up a teaching post in Colombo. The island was at a turning point in its history: the 26-year civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) had ended the previous year and the provinces of the war-zone were starting to open up. This region is also home to many of Sri Lanka’s rice-cultivating communities and there was growing discussion of the island’s changing climate, particularly the erratic rainfall, and its effect on food and water security. How, people wondered, would the challenges of climate change adaptation and post-war reconciliation become entangled? Following an MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology at UCL on my return to the UK, this question became the focus of my research.

My research: This research centres around an ethnographic study of a large climate change adaptation intervention currently being implemented in multi-ethnic, agricultural communities in Sri Lanka’s former war-zone. It will ask: How is the risk of climate change perceived in the wake of a violent conflict? What happens when global climate change policy collides with communities with religious and ethnic divisions? Must climate change must always exacerbate existing conflicts, by increasing resource scarcity, or can the process of co-operative adaptation facilitate reconciliation?

The difference my research makes: Climate change is already having an impact on conflict and security. For example, climate related stressors have played a role in the conflict in Darfur and they are thought to have been complicating factors in the conflicts of the Arab Spring. At the same time, climate change adaptation has become one of the most rapidly growing sources of development spending. The insights this research generates into the links between conflict, climate and environment can be used to inform adaptation policy, so that it can support peace and stability, and to enable conflict prevention initiatives to take account of climate change.

Supervisor: Professor Edward Simpson


Daniel Artus, UCL Anthropology

Pathway: Anthropology

Research area & contact details

About me: Born and raised in London, I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Theology from Oxford in 2009. I went on to work in consultancy, focusing on data analytics and architecture across the education and insurance sectors. After six years in industry, I went on to study Digital Anthropology at UCL in 2016. My research studies there focused on the anthropology of data, technology and information – culminating in a dissertation that explored the ethical agency of data in the London Effective Altruist Community. Graduating in 2017 I went to work with UCL’s interdisciplinary Extreme Citizen Science group as research assistant, supporting with research management activities and winning £100,000 of EPSRC funding to launch a social enterprise out of their work. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, running, amateur dramatics and music.

My research: I’m undertaking a multi-method ethnographic study of HPV vaccine hesitancy in Ireland. The term ‘vaccine hesitancy’ reflects the complexity of attitudes regarding vaccines; although it’s common to speak of the ‘anti-vaccination movement’ as a homogeneous bloc, there are a wide scale of attitudes when considering immunisation choices. Non-vaccinating parents are not necessarily opposed to vaccines so much as belief in individual responsibility for health outcomes, desire for ‘natural’ living and a mistrust of powerful institutions (be they public or private). Combined with the general difficulty of communicating relative risk, the role digital networks in both accelerating information diffusal and community building the issue is more complex than a simple ‘informational or educational deficit’. A video of Colombian girls suffering seizures following the administration of the HPV vaccine went viral on a global scale with significant consequences for vaccination rates (particularly in Japan, Denmark and Ireland). The key aim of my research is to gain a holistic understanding of the lives of vaccine-hesitant families through in-depth participant observation, social media analysis and quantitative survey work.  The project is being run in collaboration with the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and ORB International, an specialist ethnographic research consultancy.

The difference my research makes: My hope is that my research can help articulate and address the anxieties of vaccine hesitant communities. Recent data that vaccination rates fluctuate at best and at worst decline, alongside a resurgence in preventable diseases. Yet regulatory and legal responses are characteristically blunt, focusing on securing compliance through castigation and exclusion. As well as informational counter-strategies, engagement with these individuals and groups on their own terms is critical for re-building trust in public institutions and healthcare professionals. Likewise, a close attention to the role of digital technologies is pertinent in considering the shifting informational politics in the era of ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’ and ‘post-truth’.

Supervisors: Dr Hannah Knox and Professor Heidi Larson


Nicole Albrecht,  Birkbeck College, University of London

Pathway: Economic and Social History

Research area & contact details

About me: I have completed BA in History at the University of Zagreb in Croatia graduating with a distinction and a first-class honour. A diverse degree which encompassed all historical periods from ancient history to world politics after 1945 gave me an invaluable base of knowledge and a reference point when comparing historical phenomena. In 2016, I have completed an MPhil in Modern European History at the University of Cambridge with a thesis entitled: Internationalism and the Women’s League of Health and Beauty in interwar Britain supervised by Dr Ben Griffin. Out of this research arose my interest in the theory and history of internationalism.

My research: In a nutshell, my project studies the transnational history of internationalism in the Balkans. The central question it focuses on is how people understood concepts such as ‘national’ and ‘international’ in different ethnic regions of Yugoslavia and what impact these concepts had on forging a Yugoslav society and state. Therefore, my study aims to research the salience of international ideas, and the impact they had for developing a unified Yugoslav identity. I believe that examining this political model could re-write the history of interwar Yugoslavia. It can show that there was a real but completely unstudied potential to build a unified Yugoslav identity with a more inclusive international ideology with the power to overcome ethnically defined political cleavages. The questions are what this potential consisted of, and why, ultimately, it was not realised.

The difference my research makes:This project will be a significant regional study in the field of international history which addresses many of the theoretical issues and new methodological approaches highlighted by scholars to date. Firstly, it will address the ‘elite manipulation view’ by focusing on the opportunities non-elite actors were given to adopt and enact international ideas.

Secondly, exploring Yugoslav identity through culture is a novel way to reveal the interconnectedness of international ideas with anti-imperial and national ideologies, overcoming the conceptual divide between idealism and realism that is still pervasive in the theory and history of internationalism.

Finally, by focusing on ‘internationalism’ and its potential for identity building I seek to challenge the ‘cauldron view of nationalism’ which presupposes that internationalism does not shape political outcomes because, unlike nationalism, it has no emotional valence to individuals. On the contrary, I hypothesise that in the context of diversity, amongst the multiplicity of political options, internationalism can be a cohesive force in the society. I hope that researching its potential against the popularity of the radical political choices in the interwar years can teach us valuable lessons for today.

Supervisors: Dr Jessica Reinisch


Jamie Hentall-MacCuish, UCL Department of Economics

Pathway: Economics

Research area & contact details

About me: I started the MRes/MPhil/PhD programme at UCL in 2016 and immediately prior to this completed the MSc. Economics programme at UCL. My first undergraduate degree was in Mathematics at the University of Warwick after which I worked at a software developer during which time I completed a BSc in Development and Economics with the University of London external programme.

My research: My research is on the Economics implications of limited attention and the often overlooked costly nature of thought. I am currently investigating these themes within the context of retirement and saving decisions.

Supervisors: Prof Fabien Postel-Vinay and Prof Eric French



Filippo Pallotti, UCL Department of Economics

Pathway: Economics

Research area & contact details

About me: Currently a PhD student in Economics at UCL, Filippo previously worked as Predoctoral Research Fellow at Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and as Visiting Student Research Collaborator of Professor Adrien Auclert at the Department of Economics of Princeton University.

Filippo holds a Bachelor and a Master’s degree in Economics from University of Pisa, where he was also a student of the honors college Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna.

My research: Filippo’s main research interests are Heterogeneity in Macroeconomics, Development Economics and Monetary Policy.

Supervisors: Prof Morten O. Ravn


Yuyan Jiang, UCL Department of Social Science

Pathway: Quantitative Social science

Research area & contact details

Pathway: Quantitative Social science

About me/education; I am currently a first-year PhD student at the Department of Social Science in UCL. I also did my master programme in Quantative Research Methods here. Prior to this, I completed my MA in Economics and Finance at University of Aberdeen in Scotland and BA in English at Wuhan University in China.

My research; Although a large body of research has investigated the impact of EMA on the participation, retention and achievement in secondary school, there is very little literature exploring the long-term effect of EMA. My research is planning to use the Next Steps and Our Future datasets and adopt quasi-experimental methods, such as regression discontinuity design, propensity score matching and entropy balancing. It will contribute to the existing literature by providing more evidence on the long-term impact of EMA since its roll-out nationally and its comparison with the impact of the policy that has replaced it (16-19 Bursary Fund) and CCT programmes in other countries.

Supervisors: Dr Gillian Wyness, Dr Nikki Shure

Tel: 07422587977


Maddy Pearson, Anthropology of AMR Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Pathway: Health and Wellbeing

Research area & contact details

About me: I have a background in social anthropology, focusing on ethnographic study and advanced theory during my undergraduate training before gravitating towards anthropology and development for my MSc degree. Both my degrees took place at the LSE in London where I lived for a number of years. Between my studies I lived in North-West Thailand and worked with a development focused charity which oriented my interest towards health and its social determinants in LMIC settings.

Since my degree I have been working as a research assistant at the LSHTM with the anthropology of AMR group, looking at awareness of AMR and the contextual variables that affect practices of antibiotic prescribing and dispensing by healthcare professionals in LMIC settings. This work has taken place in London with some incredibly interesting fieldwork trips to Uganda and Thailand. The content of this work and the stimulating conversations that have surrounded it have heavily influenced the PhD project I am now undertaking.

My research: My PhD project works to establish an alternative approach to AMR, hygiene and sanitation by exploring through the case of water management in Thailand what a ‘living with’ version of hygiene and sanitation might look like.

It will work to understand how people manage water systems and how this reflects understandings of hygiene, from both an historical and classificatory systems perspective. From here, it will wonder what alternative possibilities could exist for understanding water, hygiene and sanitation, such as a ‘living with’ approach, which could challenge the existing binary conceptions of human, microbe relations. It wonders how such an approach might de-moralise and democratise concepts of hygiene and sanitation and what this could mean for the way AMR is perceived and responded to.

Supervisors: Dr. Clare Chandler, Dr. Coll Hutchison



LSHTM Profile:

Manon Haemmerli, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Pathway: Life Course and Social Epidemiology

Research area & contact details

About me/education; After graduating from the Ecole Polytechnique fédérale in Lausanne (Switzerland) with an MSc in Physics, I decided to change direction and pursued my studies in the field of Public Health. I therefore obtained an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in 2014, with a focus on Health Economics. Since then, I have been working as a Reseach fellow in Health Economics at LSHTM, and throughout the various projects in which I was involved I became interested in the field of equity in health care and in the various methods used to measure equity. Given large health inequities in many parts of the world today, I believe this is an important area of research that entails many dimensions worth exploring.

My research and the difference my research makes; Indonesia has embarked on an ambitious program to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) by 2019 with its national health insurance scheme at the forefront. While Indonesia has made steady progress, around a third of its population remains without cover and out of pocket payments for health are widespread even among the insured. Amid growing concerns that the poor may be left behind in the pursuit of UHC, my research will provide much needed evidence on the equity-impact of the current health reforms and Indonesia’s overall progress to universalism. Using large-scale household surveys in Indonesia, I will measure the extent to which different socioeconomic groups benefit from public financing for health through their use of health services. In doing so, I will advance conventional methodology by weighting the benefits of health spending to reflect quality of services, especially important in countries such as Indonesia where the poor typically utilise lower quality health services compared richer groups. With econometric methods, I will also aim to measure the effect of insurance ownership on a range of behavioural outcomes including utilisation of services, out-of-pockets spending, and impoverishing and catastrophic health expenditure.

Supervisors: Virginia Wiseman, Josephine Borghi, Timothy Powell-Jackson



Jialan Hong, UCL Department of Epidemiology and Public Health

Pathway: Life Course and Social Epidemiology

Research area & contact details

About me: I am a qualified dentist. I hold a MSc in International Health from the University of Leeds and a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the Fujian Medical University, China. My research interests lie in the area of dental public health with a focus on determinants of oral health among older people and children, which were developed from my previous clinical and research experience at universities, hospitals and charity organisations in both China and UK.

My research title is ‘The association between social circumstances over the life course and oral health amongst older Chinese adults. My research aims to explore associations between social determinants and oral health outcomes across the life course among Chinese older adults by analysing the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS). Oral diseases, including tooth decay and gum diseases, are the most common diseases globally, affecting 60% of the world’s population. Oral diseases have significant negative impact on quality of life, incurring heavy costs to both the individual and society. The world population is ageing rapidly with growing health-related needs, in particular in the world’s most populous country, China. Accordingly, understanding oral health determinants among Chinese older adults is critical to promote healthy ageing and reduce the global burden of oral diseases.

The difference my research makes: My research is expected to highlight in detail the mechanisms and pathways between social circumstances and subsequent oral health, and understand the relationship between oral health and healthy longevity. By elucidating the social determinants of oral health, my research will provide stakeholders with the evidence to supporting and improving people’s oral health and wellbeing as they grow older.

Supervisors: Professor Richard Watt, Professor Georgios Tsakos, Dr Anja Heilmann


  • Hong J, Whelton H, Douglas G, Kang J. Consumption frequency of added sugars and UK children’s dental caries. Community dentistry and oral epidemiology. 2018. DOI:10.1111/cdoe.12413


Alex Rhodes, UCL Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health

Pathway: Life Course and Social Epidemiology

Research area & contact details

About me: I have had a long career as a commercial qualitative researcher, working on new product development and brand strategy development for leading manufacturers, service companies and retailers. Eight years ago I started doing pro bono research for the child health charity Best Beginnings, including helping them to develop an app to support women through pregnancy and the first years of parenthood. This app, Baby Buddy, is endorsed by many of the Royal Colleges and has already been embedded into 22 NHS care pathways. Working with Best Beginnings reignited my interest in health psychology (my undergraduate degree was Maths and Psychology) and led to an MSc in Health Psychology at UCL.

My research and the difference it makes: The aim of my PhD is to develop a behaviour change intervention for the Baby Buddy app that will encourage and support women to eat healthily and exercise during pregnancy, thereby reducing their risk of excessive gestational weight gain.

Excessive gestational weight gain is associated with adverse health outcomes during pregnancy, labour and in later life. Of particular concern is its association with long-term weight issues for both mother and baby. Diet and exercise interventions can succeed in reducing the incidence of excessive gestational weight gain. However face-to-face interventions are expensive to deliver and have limited accessibility. An app-based intervention will offer an inexpensive means to reach vulnerable women and help to educate, motivate and support them to achieve healthy gestational weight gain.

Supervisors: Clare Llewellyn and Dr Helen Croker

Pathway: Life Course and Social Epidemiology

Location: UCL Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health


Sara Tofiq, UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Healthcare

Pathway: Life Course and Social Epidemiology

Research area & contact details

About me:  I grew up in London and was always fascinated by the endless diversity that the city offers, meeting people from an array of interesting backgrounds and gaining insight into different perspectives. I studied Psychology at UCL for my bachelors and this is where I first learnt about the extensive effect of the environment on our lives. Intrigued by my studies, I wanted to explore this concept further by investigating the effects of deprivation and socio-economic status on an individual’s life. After graduating, I undertook a research assistant position based at a couples therapy practice, and was given the opportunity to conduct some analyses of my own. I chose to explore the impact of deprivation on a parenting intervention aiming to improve parenting styles for separated couples that were co-parenting. The results were interesting as they suggested that separated parents from lower income backgrounds improved on parenting styles slower in comparison to parents from higher income backgrounds.

Learning of this inequality, I became interested in conducting research on spells of deprivation and how this can impact a child’s development emotionally, cognitively and physically. I wanted to include green spaces in my study and how a child’s interaction with such spaces can see far-stretched effects on their weight, their cognitive functioning levels and also their socio-behavioural outcomes. Using data from the Millenium Cohort Study, I will obtain measures such as Body Mass Index (BMI), IQ and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), to employ a regression model and examine the relationship between green spaces and child development. Additionally, there is an element of parental mental health which I will be investigating, to see whether parents’ mental health will interfere with a child’s interaction with green spaces and in turn their development. Further, I will be conducting some interviews to feed into a qualitative analyses, exploring the question of why children are using green spaces or why they are not using these spaces.

The difference my research will make:  The difference I’m hoping to make through my PhD is a better understanding of how children interact with urban parks and how Given the many benefits of green spaces, it is motivating to plan how our research will drive impact in society, particularly by encouraging more parents and children to utilise green spaces earlier on in a child’s life trajectory.

Supervisors: Professor Yvonne KellyProfessor Nick TylerDr Anne Peasey and Dr Rebecca Lacey

Pathway: Life Course and Social Epidemiology

Location: UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Healthcare


Elisavet Pappa, UCL Psychiatry

Pathway: Mental Health and Mental Health Care

Research area & contact details

About me: I have a BA in Psychology (Degree-The American College of Greece/ Open University) and an MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences (UCL). Before finding my passion in mental health research, I initially studied Maritime Studies (University of Piraeus), where I studied economics, statistics and logistics. As a psychology undergraduate, I attended Stanford University for a summer term where I studied modules in Data and Affective Science.

I have direct experience of mental health research in clinical services. During my MSc, I worked as an assistant psychologist at Saint Ann’s Hospital for people with severe mental illness, and I have also worked as a research assistant in a psychiatric hospital in Athens doing research with women with postnatal depression. Finally, after finishing my MSc I worked as a research assistant in the Division of Psychiatry at UCL on Down Syndrome & Dementia and a study on Illusory Social Agents in Psychosis, the latter being directly related to my PhD.

My research: One of the core features of psychosis is that the experience is fundamentally social, in that people with psychosis most commonly report being bothered by hallucinated voices and delusional persecutors. But until recently, little attention has been paid to how these illusory social experiences arise and how they can be explained in terms of alterations to social cognition. My research focuses on the phenomenology, cognitive mechanisms and impact of these experiences aiming to advance our understanding of social cognitive science of psychosis.

My PhD project will take a data-driven and experimental approach to answer three important questions drawing from my background in mental health research and my extensive experience with computational methods:

What are the characteristics of illusory social agents in psychosis? Identification of presenting characteristics of illusory social agents experienced by patients with psychosis through recently developed methods for investigating the phenomenology of psychosis.

To what extent do psychotic symptoms predict over-detection of social agents? Use of interactive social cognition experiments to investigate the extent that patients with psychosis over-detect ‘human’ agency in interactions.

How does the presence of illusory social agents affect social functioning on the population level? Use of computational modelling methods to assess how the presence of characteristics of illusory social agents and the misperception bias for social agents in the social network of the minority of population members with psychosis affect their social success and the social dynamics of the entire group.

The difference my research makes: This research will help uncover mechanisms behind illusory social experiences in psychosis, which are known to be some of the most disabling and distressing experiences in severe mental illness. New generation therapies like AVATAR therapy and relating therapy have the illusory social agent representations as a therapeutic target but are currently not informed by social cognitive studies. Thus, my research will be of immediate benefit to psychological therapy researchers and potentially longer-term benefit to patients.

Most cognitive models of psychosis ignore the social experience of the symptoms of psychosis, despite them being common and core to the condition and this research will help move cognitive science towards an understanding of psychosis that more accurately reflects the lived experience and phenomenology of psychosis. This is of clear benefit to social cognition researchers for whom social agent representation dysfunction may provide convergent evidence for this model in normal cognition.

Finally, my PhD project aims to combine my background in working with people with psychosis and psychosis research, with my background in computational analysis, to demonstrate how well chosen computational methods (i.e. agent-based modelling) can contribute directly to clinically relevant research. I hope this methodological innovation will benefit psychopathology and health service researchers.

Supervisors: Dr Vaughan Bell &  Prof Nichola Raihani


  • Sheehan, A., Morant, N., R., Strydom, Pappa, E., & Hassiotis, A. (2017) Psychotropic prescribing in people with intellectual disability and challenging behaviour: aligning evidence, practice, and policy”. BMJ, 358:j3896
  •  Pappa, E., Apegi, T., Ventouratou, R., Janikian M., & Beratis, I. (2016). Online Gaming Behaviour & Psychosocial Well-Being in Greek Adolescents. European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences(EJSBS), 15 (1).

Pathway: Mental Health and Mental Health Care

Location: UCL Psychiatry

Tel.: +44 (0)20 3108 4146


Twitter: @ElliPChrys

LinkedIn: Elisavet Pappa

Aaron Kandola, UCL Division of Psychiatry

Pathway: Mental Health and Mental Health Care

Research area & contact details

About me: After graduating with a degree in Psychology from the University of Sussex, I went on to complete a research-based masters in Brain and Cognitive Science at the University of Amsterdam. Following an internship, I went on to work as a full-time Research Assistant with Monash University in Australia. My area of focus was investigating the impact of physical exercise on the brain, and its potential applications in mental health.

I returned to London in 2017 to work as a Research Officer for the Mental Health Foundation. Here I supported the development and delivery of research programmes that broadly focussed on the prevention of mental illness. I have also worked for several organisations as a freelance science and medical writer over the past few years. Currently, I work for Healthline to produce articles relating to different aspects of health and medicine.

My research: My project aims to investigate the relationship between physical activity and diet with depression, and their potential role in the prevention and treatment of mental illness. This will be carried out through a cross-sectional, and longitudinal analysis of a large, population-based dataset.

The difference my research makes: Physical activity and diet represent low-risk methods of improving mental health, and addressing the stark physical health inequalities associated with mental illness. They could be used to provide a range of benefits to the quality of mental healthcare, and contribute towards the prevention of mental illness in the population.

The results of this project can help to inform the development of cost-effective, lifestyle-based approaches for treating, and preventing depression. It can also contribute towards our understanding of the factors that underpin poor mental health. This will not only have implications for mental healthcare, but for public health policy.

Supervisors: Prof David Osborn and Dr Brendon Stubbs


  •  Breedvelt, J. J. F., Kandola, A., Kousoulis, A. A., Brouwer, M. E., Karyotaki, E., Bockting, C. L. H., & Cuijpers, P. M. W. (2018). What are the effects of preventative interventions on Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in young adults? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Affective Disorders
  • Den Ouden, L., Kandola, A., Suo, C., Hendrikse, J., Costa, R., Watt, J. M., Lorenzetti, V., & Yucel, M. (2017). The Influence of Aerobic Exercise on Hippocampal Integrity and Function: A Multi-Modal Imaging Approach. Brain Plasticity
  •  Kandola, A., Hendrikse, J., Lucassen, P. J., & Yucel, M. (2016). Aerobic exercise as a tool to improve hippocampal plasticity and function in humans: practical implications for mental health treatment. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10: 373.
  • Kandola, A.,1 Hendrikse, J.,1 Coxon, J., Rogasch, N., & Yucel, M. (2017). Combining aerobic exercise and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to improve brain function in health and disease. Neuroscience & Biobehavioural Reviews, 83:11-20.
  • Kandola, A., Vancampfort, D., Herring, M., Rebar, A., Hallgren, M., Firth, J., & Stubbs, B. (2018). Moving to Beat Anxiety: Epidemiology and Therapeutic Issues with Physical Activity for Anxiety. Current psychiatry reports20(8), 63.
  • Keuken, M. Schafer, A., Backhouse, K., Kandola, A., Beekhuizen, S., Himmer, L., et al., (2017). Effects of aging on T1, T2*, and QSM values in the subcortex using 7T MRI. Brain Structure and Function, 222(4): 2487-2505.

Pathway: Mental Health and Mental Health Care 

Location: UCL Division of Psychiatry


Daisy McInnerney, UCL Divison of Psychiatry, Marie Curie Pallative Care Research Department

Pathway: Mental Health and Mental Health Care

Research area & contact details

About me: I’m a Neuroscience graduate with Masters degrees in Science Communication and Psychology. Prior to undertaking this research degree, I spent a few years working within the healthcare communications industry designing and creating events, campaigns and materials aimed at educating parents and healthcare professionals on disease awareness and therapies across a range of therapy areas.

The difference my research makes: My PhD project, part funded by Marie Curie, looks at emotional disclosure as a form of therapeutic intervention on health-related outcomes of people with advanced chronic diseases and their families. Emotional disclosure, in the form of expressive writing, is a low-cost intervention that has been shown to produce health benefits for clinical populations. However, no intervention has been designed to meet the specific needs of palliative care patients and their families. My research will aim to fill this gap by designing, implementing and evaluating an emotional disclosure intervention in collaboration with patients, family carers and practitioners within this setting at the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead. Hopefully, my project will lead to the development of an effective and low-cost intervention that can improve the wellbeing of patients in palliative care, and their family members.

Supervisors: Prof Paddy Stone, Dr Nuriye Kupeli and Dr Bridget Candy


Twitter: @daisymcinnerney

Jessica Rees, UCL Division of Psychiatry

Pathway: Mental Health and Mental Health Care

Research area & contact details

About me: I graduated from the University of Liverpool with a Masters in Psychological Sciences, where my research focused on the adjustment to chronic illness. At the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, I worked in collaboration with UCL as both a Research Assistant in the digital innovation team trialling apps designed to improve wellbeing, and as an Assistant Psychologist developing and evaluating the Children’s Wellbeing Practitioner Programme.

 My research: My PhD focuses on people with dementia and long term conditions which are common is older people such as diabetes, arthritis or hypertension. I am interested in how primary care professionals can support people living with dementia manage their physical health through widening social and care networks. My PhD aims to co-produce a resource to improve primary care through understanding how people with cognitive impairments can best be supported to manage their physical health.

 The difference my research will make: Approximately 850,000 people live with dementia in the UK, and this is expected to increase to over one million by 2025. As part of a larger project with the Alzheimer’s Society, my PhD aims to increase independence for people with dementia and their families. I have a strong interest in health psychology as physical wellbeing is a key determinant for quality of life and independence. There is currently a dearth of evidence on how care planning for long term conditions is different, and needs to be modified in the context of dementia. This will make a difference as personalised care planning is an NHS priority leading to improved health and self-management.

 Supervisors: Prof Claudia Cooper and Prof Kate Walters

Selected publications:

  • Rees, Chilcot, Donnellen & Soulsby (2018). Exploring the Nature of Illness Perception in People with End-Stage Kidney Disease. Journal of Renal Care, 44 (1), 19-29. DOI: 10.1111/jorc.12225
  • Edbrooke-Childs, Smith, Rees, Edridge, Calderon, Saunders, Wolpert, Deighton. (2017). Cluster Randomised Control Trial of Rezone: Helping Young People to Self-manage when Feeling Overwhelmed. JMIR Research Protocols, 6(11):e213. DOI10.2196/resprot.7019


Angelique Mulholland, Institute of Education, UCL

Pathway: Education

Research area & contact details

About me/education; After qualifying as a teacher in 2005, I specialised in working with learners with emotional behaviour needs. Many of the learners I worked with had experienced severe family dysfunction; including witnessing and experiencing violence in their home setting. Alongside my teaching career, I researched into the prevalence of male violence against women and children, particularly in the domestic setting. As well as taking part in activist events, I wrote about the phenomenon of gender based violence, in its many different forms, in the UK, and in international contexts.

By undertaking a Masters degree at UCL in Education, Gender and International Development in 2014, I developed a strong theoretical understanding of the importance of education in the life of a child who has experienced personal, social or systemic disadvantage; my dissertation focussed on the children of sex workers in Kolkata, where I researched the outcomes of children who had been able to interact positively with education, despite huge challenges in their home life. Throughout my Masters, I became increasingly interested in masculinities, particularly problematic or extreme masculinities often associated with gender based violence. I began the transition into teaching adult male prisoners alongside my Masters degree, where my skills in supporting disaffected learners were developed further as well as my understanding of the educational trajectories of men who have committed violent crime.

My research; Many prisons in the UK are at crisis point, and have been for a number of years.

As well as funding cuts, part of the problem is that many prisoners deal with the “pains of imprisonment” – emotional turmoil, deprivation – by using behaviours associated with extreme or problematic masculinities, including violence, self-harm and excessive drug use. The evolving identities of prisoners neither begin or end in prison, instead they are a complex combination of their personal histories and broader expectations of gendered cultural norms. This study poses the question of whether evolving identities and overall well-being can be influenced by new ideas through dynamic educational intervention.

The complexity of the behaviours, practices and identities of male prisoners demands an equally complex approach which must be interdisciplinary in nature.  My proposed approach is the Capability Approach (CA). The CA focuses on the “conditions” – economic, social, cultural and political – that people live in, and how these conditions either enhance or inhibit their ability to live a full, flourishing life. However, this approach does not explain why people behave in certain ways. This study therefore proposes to use current theories on masculinities which are rooted in gender theory, as well as drawing upon research from the field of psycho-social studies.

The difference my research makes; Although research into prison masculinities is increasing, the willingness to understand the role of gender in criminality is still in its infancy. Furthermore, the need to take into account the histories of prisoners is also an emerging practice within prison research. The importance of education in the rehabilitation process is recognised in government policies, but education and development of critical thinking skills on the behaviours fuelled by problematic masculinities that led to crimes being committed, and that indeed continue to be committed in prison, is yet to marry up.

As a prison educator and researcher I will explore the effectiveness of educational intervention on the well-being and identities of men in prison and whether their behaviours can be transformed or influenced for the better – for themselves, their families and wider society.

 Supervisors: Dr. Jenny Parkes and Dr Rosie Peppin-Vaughan


Sally Holt, Institute of Education, UCL

Pathway: Education

Research area & contact details

About Me/Education: After studying for a BA in History at Durham University, I stayed in the North East and worked for three years at Dyke House Sports and Technology College in Hartlepool. I worked in roles both within the Sixth Form and, latterly in developing a whole school approach (Year 4 to Year 13) to progression to university. This school based experienced of widening participation led me to take an academic interest in the policies and infrastructure of the sector. In 2016 I moved to London to undertake an MA in Education Policy at the Institute of Education where my dissertation focused on the perceptions of higher education in low progression groups. For the last two years I have worked at The Brilliant Club, a charity an independently-evaluated charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds that progress to highly-selective universities.

My Research: My research investigates the effect of school-university partnerships on progression rates to university for underrepresented groups. This project considers a range of factors that influence the nature and effectiveness of school-university partnerships. Universities are held accountable for widening participation (WP) work by their Access and Participation Plans, agreed and monitored by the Office for Students (Ofs). Such agreements are currently a requirement for charging higher tuition fees, creating an incentive for universities to comply with government WP policy. In contrast, whilst schools are, in effect, the gatekeepers who control access to pupils, their accountability measures are focused elsewhere. The recent changes to the regulator and the increased government focus on widening participation as a tool for social mobility, has meant an increasingly high profile and constantly evolving environment in which school-university partnerships operate in order to carry out this work.

Supervisors: Dr Rachel Wilde

Aydan Greatrick, Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry, UCL

Pathway: Gender and Sexuality

Research area & contact details

About me: I hold an MSc in Global Migration from UCL and a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Cambridge. My masters thesis focused on the the humanitarian roles played by Turkish LGBTQ+ organisations who offer support to refugees from Syria. I have applied this research through my work with the Centre for Transnational Development and Collaboration, an organisation which specialises in gender, sexual and bodily rights research and advocacy. Prior to starting my PhD, I also worked in the UCL Department of Geography as the Project and Communications Coordinator of the AHRC-ESRC funded Refugee Hosts project, which is exploring local community responses to displacement in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

My research: My project seeks to improve our understanding of the roles played by queer, LGBTQ+ or ‘non-normative’ communities in contexts of protracted displacement. In order to do this, I will conduct a comparative analysis of the experiences of and responses to queer refugees living in Beirut and Berlin. Focussing on these two sites will allow me to explore the spatial topography of sexual rights advocacy, and its relationship with the wider geopolitical context of displacement from Syria. My analysis will also cover the role communities, newly arrived refugees, states and international humanitarian practitioners play in supporting queer refugees on the one hand, and shaping sexual rights discourses on the other.

The difference my research makes: Overall, my research aims to improve the humanitarian protection environment that confronts non-normative refugees in Europe and the Middle East through empirical research and policy-based advocacy. In so doing, my interdisciplinary project aims to interrogate commonly held assumptions about sexuality in Arabic-speaking contexts versus European contexts, and the role these play in shaping LGBTQ asylum policies, geopolitical discourses of sexual difference, refugee rights, as well as the experiences, performances and identities of displaced queers. Ultimately, by co-producing knowledge with displaced queer communities and organisations in and from the Middle East, this project hopes to centralise the subjectivities of queer refugee experiences into mainstream humanitarian practice. This will also contribute to queer scholarship, migration scholarship, and work on humanitarianism, by providing a pertinent and timely case-study for academic and policy audiences.

Supervisors: Dr Richard Mole and Prof Ann Varley



Twitter: @AydanEG


Becka Hudson,  UCL Anthropology Department

Pathway: Law, Socio-legal Studies and Criminology

Research area & contact details

About me: I am Becka, a creative producer, organiser and writer from London. Til now my work has focused on political campaigns around issues as diverse as housing, imprisonment, youth participation in politics. I also work freelance as a writer and creative producer – in this line of work I have written plays, TV series, articles for popular press and often produce events and creative projects, most often with unsigned artists.

My research looks at something which has been of abiding interest throughout my work: why are people with personality disorder diagnoses so over-represented in UK prisons? By spending time in the UK court system and with people diagnoses with PD, I intend to answer how the process of criminalisation happens and what a PD diagnosis comes to mean and ‘do’ in the British criminal justice system. The point of this research is to contribute to understanding about the everyday texture of how psychiatric and criminal justice interact to shape people’s lives and society at large.

Supervisors: Professor Roland Littlewood and Dr Rachael Dobson 


  • 2019 – Community organising and the Grenfell fire, Pluto Books Volume (Chapter forthcoming)
  • 2018 – Gender and the far right series, Verso Blog (forthcoming)
  • 2018 – Housing safety and hyper-gentrification, Open Democracy (forthcoming)
  • 2018 – ‘Striking and the roots of International Women’s Day’, The Independent
  • 2017 – ‘Land based social enterprise’, Journal of Cooperative Studies
  • 2016 – ‘The end of Crisis Loans’, Mushpit Magazine
  • 2016 – ‘Making a nightmare to build a dream’, Skin Deep Magazine
  • 2016 – ‘Who gets to be silenced?’, Vice Magazine
  • 2016 – Community responses to sexual violence, The Open University
  • 2016 – ‘The militarisation of caring labour’, The International Times
  • 2015 – ‘Defiance at the world’s unjust treatment of women’, Morning Star
  • 2015 – ‘The struggle to care in the face of cuts’, Camden New Journal
  • 2014- ‘Taking charge of scaling well’, Stanford Social Innovation Review
  • 2014- ‘Guerrilla gardeners’, The Guardian
  • 2013 – Chasing the Angry River – Anthropolitan Magazine, UCL

Tel: +44(0)7805209989





Mercedes Malcomson, Birkbeck School of Law

Pathway: Law and Socio-legal Studies

Research area & contact details

About me/education: I hold a BA Russian and History from the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, UCL, and an LLM Qualifying Law Degree from Birkbeck. At undergraduate level, I wrote dissertations on classical composers and Stalin-era cultural policy as well as on the policy of korenizatsiia in the early Soviet Union. At postgraduate level, I wrote on the 2012 ‘foreign agents’ law and its impact on human rights activists.

I have recently come from working in academic governance and research management, supporting senior management in a small, specialist university. Beyond my experience in higher education, I have worked in orchestral management, including setting up and running non-profit orchestras.

My research: My research looks at methods employed by human rights defenders in Russia in securing international legal norms in the current regime, and how this reshapes our understanding of Russia’s relationship with human rights, with a focus on the ‘living’ legal theory. I look at recent legislative developments and human rights’ defenders responses as a forum for legally productive debate.

The difference my research makes; As discourse about international law, human rights and regional integrity occupies the foreground of popular debate, my research explores how this is played out ‘on the ground’ in Russia. This study reframes current questions about international human rights law and practice by taking an interdisciplinary approach to interrogate ideas about legal theory and ‘culture’. In doing so, I hope to build a clearer picture of how human rights are conceived and communicated and of their relevance in 21st-century Russia.

Supervisors: Prof Bill BowringAgnieszka Kubal

Publications: Malcomson, M. (2020) ‘“So whose agents are we?” Defining (international) human rights in the shadow of the ‘foreign agents’ law in Russia’, Birkbeck Law Review 7(1)


Twitter: @mercmalcomson

Alessandro Colasanti, Birkbeck, University of London

Pathway: Politics and International relations

Research area & contact details

About me: I graduated with a BA in Global Politics and International Relations from Birkbeck, University of London. Thereafter, I went on to complete my MSc in Global Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2018, I have returned to the Department of Politics at Birkbeck to continue my research journey on the relationship between cyberwar and the interstate distribution of power under the supervision of Antoine Bousquet.

My Research: My research is positioned within the wider field of cyber-studies, specifically at the intersection between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the world political system. My aim is to make a contribution to the international relations literature concerned with the alleged cyber-revolution. I inquire whether and how a given state’s use of cyberwar tactics against a rival state leads the latter to bend and do something it would not otherwise do. Despite their advantageous position in conventional theatres of interstate conflict, technologically and militarily advanced Western states are expected to suffer the most from the cyber-phenomenon. I employ a mixed-methods approach, which combines a large-N to a small-N analysis of the above Dahlian question and justifies the provisional PhD title ‘The Cyber-Revolution of World Politics? Assessing the Impact of Cyberwar on the Hierarchy of Power in Interstate Relations’.

The Difference My Research Makes: The acquisition of a sophisticated ICTs military capability was originally expected to provide already powerful states with a new weapon that would boost their coercive power in their interactions with their opponents. The views of the intelligence and military establishment in West have however shifted to the opposite conclusions. I thus seek to provide a systematic answer to a counterintuitive and recurrent warning relating to inevitability of cyber-Pearl Harbors, which argues for a reversal of existing interstate power relations, whereby the weak acquires a considerable strategic and coercive advantage over stronger rivals to a point that redefines the world political hierarchy of states.

Supervisor: Antoine Bousquet


Title: The Cyber-Revolution of World Politics? Assessing the Impact of Cyberwar on the Hierarchy of Power in Interstate Relations

Conor Kelly, Department of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London

Pathway: Politics and International Relations

Research area & contact details

About me/education: I graduated with a BA (Hons) in History, Sociology and Political Science in 2014 from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Following this, I studied for my MA in European Public Policy from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. After University, I worked in a variety of different political and not-for-profit organisations in New York and London.

My research: My research focuses on Northern Irish political parties and their attitudes towards European integration. It asks whether ideology and electoral calculus, as the existing studies predict, reshaped Northern Irish political parties’ preferences on Europe. Going beyond this literature, it considers whether Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party have been influenced by transnational politics on the island of Ireland and within the European Union.

The difference my research makes: My research will shed new light on Northern Irish political parties at a time when these actors are having a profound effect on the future of UK-EU relations and British constitutional politics. More generally, the findings will advance the literature on how political parties form their preferences in divided societies.

Supervisors: Dr Ben Worthy and Prof Dermot Hodson (joint supervisors)


Faye Curtis, Birkbeck University

Pathway: Politics and International Relations

Research area & contact details

About me: I completed my BA in Global Politics and International Relations at Birkbeck, University of London. I then went on to complete an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy at the University of Oxford. I am now based back at Birkbeck’s Department of Politics, where I will complete a second Master’s degree and write my PhD – which is provisionally titled ‘Female warriors and the right to fight: assessing the implications of a feminised front-line’.

My research: I am primarily concerned with shifting gender norms and patterns of gendered violence. My PhD thesis will make a contribution to the feminist literature on gendered warfare by focusing on the opening up of front-line roles to women. Specifically, I seek to provide an empirical foundation to the debate over female accession into ground close combat units by tracing gender integration processes in several distinct but comparable military institutions – namely; the Kurdish Peshmerga, Israeli Defence Force, and soon-to-be gender-neutral regiments of the UK and US Parachute and Marine regiments.

The difference my research makes: The participation of women in ground close combat units has almost no historical precedent and thus presents an exciting opportunity for the study of new empirical terrain. Through my research, I aim to shed light on patterns of gendered violence, shifting gender norms, gender relations, and the impact (if any) of women’s participation on ‘Band of Brothers’ culture.

Supervisors: Dr Alejandro Colás & Antoine Bousquet

Hannah Reeves, Department of Psychosocial Studies (Birkbeck, University of London)

Pathway: Psychosocial Studies

Research area & contact details

About me: I hold a Bachelor’s degree in History of Art and a Master’s degree in Art and Politics, both awarded by Goldsmiths, University of London. Throughout these studies I developed a strong interest in the socio-political dimension present in all creative practice; I believe that in today’s world this dimension is present even in the act of non-engagement with the socio-political. My exploration of wide-ranging creative practices has been informed by specific interests in feminist performance, theory and history, and late 20th-century post-structuralist philosophy. I have a strong interest in commoning and mutual aid and have been involved in such work as part of Food Not Bombs; this has also directed my academic interests. Since finishing my studies I have worked in education.

My Research: My research project is a theoretically-engaged investigation into Crossbones Garden of Remembrance, Southwark. Focusing on this previously disremembered burial ground for paupers and sex workers, I aim to demonstrate that the creative community action that maintains the site illuminates the potential for prefigurative projects to transform local collective memories. This transformation is a continuous process beginning with the gradual re-remembering of Crossbones from 1996 onwards. The Outcast Dead, too poor or too unholy to be buried on consecrated ground, neglected by the collective memories and sensibilities of the Victorian era in which Crossbones was closed, have encountered a new generation of mourners, whose social perspectives have been transformed by the gulf of time, and whose perspectives the presence of the Garden in turn transforms.

The Difference My Research Makes: My research aims to help cement the local status of Crossbones while its public visibility is at once growing and under threat, by highlighting the particular vitality of a space established and maintained by creative practices that engage with the embodied memory of the site. In the case of Crossbones, a space celebrating and honouring those who lived on society’s margins now finds itself in a newly central and exclusive location, challenging perceptions of those who stumble upon it. Crossbones exemplifies a broader potential for visibility for the lives and memories that are in the process of being written over by regeneration; for example, the area’s many social housing blocks that are now overshadowed by the Shard, in both the physical and symbolic sense.

Supervisors: Dr Margarita Palacios, Dr Ben Gidley

Jack Davey,  UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies

Pathway: Science and Technology Studies

Research area & contact details

About me: I grew up in Devon, living by the sea for most of my life, which is where I developed my love of lying on the beach. At school I found myself most interested in the sciences, so I did biology, chemistry and physics to A-level and then went on to compete a Masters degree in biochemistry at Oxford. After graduating I got a job in patent law, working with pharmaceutical and biotech companies to patent their new technologies. After almost two years on the job I realised that the corporate life was not going to suit me long-term and my best bet would be to return to research. I have always found the place of science and technology in society very interesting, so I applied to the Science and Technology Studies department at UCL in order to better explore this area.

My research: My research concerns the regulation of technologies that have been proposed to combat the effects of global warming. Currently, there are three main responses to global warming that have been proposed: mitigation, adaption, and geoengineering. My project concerns geoengineering, which has been defined as the “deliberate, large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment”. Geoengineering has the potential to be a powerful technology with potentially devastating environmental results if misused and current systems of governance are inadequate to properly regulate research in the field. This leaves a governance gap between geoengineering research and its regulation with researchers granted dangerous amounts of freedom in the absence of any specific international regulation.

The difference my research makes: The aim of my project is to help bridge the governance gap by establishing a set of guidelines for responsible research at the level of environmental field trials for geoengineering. This will first require categorising field trials according to the nature of their risk and will then require considering how guidelines could regulate research performed in each risk category. Promoting self-regulation through the establishment of these guidelines could help to encourage responsible research from the bottom up, before the required international regulation is implemented from the top down, thereby helping to bridge the governance gap.

Supervisors: Dr Jack Stilgoe and Dr Carina Fearnley

Selected Publications: 

Elena Falco, UCL Science and Technology Studies Department

Pathway: Science and Techonology Studies

Research area & contact details

About me: With my PhD, I’m coming back to academia after a long hiatus, during which I have worked in journalism and science publishing. My last job has been at the Royal Society.

I started my university education by studying Neuropsychology, only to discover that my interests mainly lay in the conditions that allow knowing the mind in the first place; that’s when I decided to turn to philosophy. I have a BA and an MA in Philosophy, focussing on the philosophy of science. I grew up in Italy, spent some time in Denmark and finally landed in London in 2012.

My research: My project focusses on the collective production of knowledge, using Wikipedia (and its less-known little sister, Citizendium) as a case study. Wikipedia (and Citizendium) pages are the result of the interaction between editors. This interaction takes the form of debate, available on “Talk” pages, and other mechanisms (such as “edit wars”, during which the same piece of information is changed back and forth by opposing factions).

This activity happens within the constraints of the wikis’ policies and platform design. The final product, the page, is a dynamic artefact, which changes over time, and whose fluidity depends on the controversies simmering under the surface. With my research, I aim to make sense of these processes, and tease out any ethical issues related to them.

The difference my research makes: Wikipedia pages are the building blocks of a worldview which is presented to readers as an objective description of reality. They are also the most readily-available source of information for a large part of the world population. Such a widely-used reference tool can be extremely influential, and deserves scrutiny. A better understanding of the way it works, and a careful examination from an ethical point of view, can inform policy and foster improvements in the design of wiki platforms. Ultimately, my work aims at making crowdsourced knowledge fairer, more inclusive, and more reliable.

This project can also be a stepping stone for further research into other digital tools for the production of knowledge, by establishing a methodology that can be transferred to other platforms, such as peer-review systems and digital repositories.

Supervisors: Dr Jack Stilgoe and Dr Phyllis Illari


Twitter: @lele_falco

Chris Dyke, Location: UCL Institute of Education

Pathway: Social Policy

Research area & contact details

About me: I have a varied background with prior experience as a football commentator, charity coordinator, law pupil, social researcher, and working with vulnerable children. I have worked as a university lecturer and research student at Goldsmiths in the Education, Sociology and STaCS departments, and acted as an advisor to OfSTED, an All-Party Parliamentary Group, and over a dozen local authorities.

I have an MA (Ox) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and recently achieved an MSc in Social Research. I enjoy running, astronomy, quantitative analysis of large datasets and thematic analysis of interviews or documents. My research interests include: the sociology of illness and the medicalisation of social and neurological difference (including autism); underlying political attitudes and latent classes; the social impact of religiosity and religion; and the effectiveness of public services – I am interested in the assumptions we make about what professional interventions achieve, and the purpose and nature of public institutions and services in the context of drastic political, technological and environmental change.

My research: For this PhD I am exploring the underlying factors affecting decisions about the risk posed by perpetrators of domestic violence and other abuse. I am interested in how senior decision-makers in the courts, probation and other safeguarding agencies weigh up different factors which affect an offender’s likelihood of inflicting further harm.

The difference my research makes: Public authorities, and survivors of domestic abuse, place considerable trust and reliance on the decisions made at key junctures that address such abuse: court hearings, probation and local government risk management forums. From analysing decision-making documents that lay out the rationale for a judgement on risk, and interviewing decision-makers, I will use a critical realist framework to draw conclusions about which factors ultimately underpin difficult evaluations of whether an offender is likely to abuse again. These findings will inform decision-makers themselves, their organisations, and people directly affected by a perpetrator of abuse (namely partners and children) who benefit from knowing more about the nature of these decisions and their foundations. For example, if decision-makers placed particular weight on a particular professional intervention, this would raise the importance of increasing our understanding of that intervention’s effectiveness. Likewise, a reliance on a particular aspect of the offender’s behaviour or presentation would raise the urgency of improving our knowledge of the link between such presentation and the future risk of harm.

Supervisors: Dr Carol Rivas and Dr Karen Schucan Bird