Venugopal Agrawal, Bartlett Development Planning Unit,

Pathway: International Development: University College London

Research area & Contact details

About me: I am an Architect and Urban Planner, and have worked in government and non-profit agencies for 6 years after my studies. I love music, sports and cooking.

My research: There is a large proportion of informal housing in Indian and most other cities in the developing world. Such housing often lacks amenities and infrastructure and is in very poor condition. Within the cities, its spread is highly heterogenous, as the process of urbanization creates both formal and informal housing as the city expands. Furthermore, beyond informality in the legal characteristics of housing, there is a great deal of informality in processes such as local policy formulation, decision making and design.A lot of research has focused on how informal housing comes to be in cities and on how it can be developed. The impact of formality on informal housing has been studied a lot, however, my research aims to shift the perspective and evaluate whether the presence, and in particular, the spatial spread of informal housing impacts how formal institutions make decisions. The research aims to test whether the impacts of this are visible in housing prices in the formal housing market and analyse to what degree they are contributing to rapid inflation that we see in the housing markets of Indian cities.

Impact of my research: Urban planning that does not take real estate markets into account can often fall short of achieving its goals. This is especially true in India as we are slowly moving from a state oriented, rigid system of planning to a free market where private developers and financial institutions have much greater autonomy. Urban poor and vulnerable communities who live in informal settlements often get left behind since how these markets interact is not well understood.By focusing on these interactions, the proposed research aims to fill an important gap in understanding outcomes of the planning instruments being used today. Being quantitative in nature, this research will be able to provide a blueprint to analyse plans and policies using information rooted in actual on ground conditions. This will help practitioners and policymakers develop plans that work with rather than against markets, helping make cities more liveable, affordable, and sustainable.

Supervisor: Prof Colin Marx (Primary)

Dr Alexandra Panman (Associate)

Contact Details:


Esther Kaner, Anthropology

Pathway: Anthropology: University College London

Research area & Contact details

About me: Prior to commencing my PhD, I completed an undergraduate degree in Human Sciences at the University of Oxford, and a master’s degree in Biosocial Medical Anthropology at UCL. I am interested primarily in how structural and ecological conditions manifest in the body, and how understandings of ‘health’ are shaped by discursive formations of power. I am a supporter of interdisciplinary, collaborative and creative working, and seek to draw from a range of disciplines in my research, including social epidemiology, political ecology, critical medical anthropology and the creative arts.
Aside from my academic work, I am a member of Medact and have written on health justice for several non-academic publications, including It’s Freezing in LA!, NSUN, Tribune and Ceasefire magazines. I have also spent the past year working part-time for a Community and Voluntary Service, which has helped shape my interest in community-based approaches to health.

My research: My project will investigate different articulations of health and care in the context of social prescribing. Under social prescribing sufferers of chronic illnesses are referred to local, non-clinical services by primary care workers. Embedded in its rollout is an acknowledgment of the social determinants of health. Its potential to challenge inequalities is, however, likely shaped by the intricacies of service users’ lived experiences. Using anthropological methods and theories, my proposed research seeks to explore understandings of ‘health’ articulated by those participating in and delivering social prescribing, and, therefore, whether social prescribing reduces or further entrenches health inequalities.
To address these questions, I will undertake an ethnography of social prescribing in the UK, facilitated by my supervisory connection to the National Academy of Social Prescribing. This will involve multi-sited participant observation with a small group of service users in their daily lives and interactions with the scheme, as well as semi-structured interviews with service deliverers and policymakers. By comparing perspectives across social prescribing, I will explore tensions between its intentions and its effects in practice. This research contributes to the emerging field of biosocial medical anthropology, which seeks to investigate how social experiences and exposures are embodied as health outcomes.

Impact of my research: This research carries the potential to inform critical areas of public health policy to the benefit of research participants and more broadly. Most obviously it will contribute to the evidence base around social prescribing in the UK, on which ethnographic research is currently lacking, to ensure best practice and optimal care for participants. The research also holds implications for UK socioeconomic policy and the voluntary sector in shaping health outcomes and lived experiences of chronic illness. The project thus has the potential to transform understandings of public health by examining directly how health inequalities are experienced in everyday life. In the wake of austerity, the Covid-19 pandemic and an emerging cost-of-living crisis, such research is critical to the development of just social policy. By documenting the effects of political economic and sociocultural formations upon the body, biosocial medical anthropology elucidates contemporary patterns of suffering, and additionally proposes potentially ameliorative frameworks.

Supervisor: Prof Sahra Gibbon

Contact details: esther.kaner.20@afreemanioeacuk

Social Media: Twitter: @lazyatthemoment

Allison McKibban, History and Law, Birkbeck College, University of London

Pathway: Social Processes, Relations & Policy: Gender and Sexuality

Research area & Contact details

About me: While I’m originally from Kansas, I moved to the UK to begin my MSt in History at the University of Oxford in 2017. After working in Ireland for a year, I completed my MSc in Gender Policy from the LSE in 2020 and enrolled at Birkbeck for a PhD in Gender (Law and History) in 2021 on the Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters project.

Outside of academia, I have worked as a lobbyist, administrator, debating coach, and public engagement coordinator. In 2020, my partner and I adopted a very energetic rescue pug called Oxy who is the light of our lives.

My research: The 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was the first U.S. federal recognition of disproportionate violence against Native women, legislating ‘solutions’ including increased jurisdiction, policing, and funding. Now, 28 years later, the violence persists unabated, with 85 percent of Native women reporting sexual violence in their lifetime. This project challenges the assumption that the ‘problem’ VAWA aims to ‘solve’ is obvious. Using poststructuralist policy studies and Indigenous and decolonizing feminisms, I employ Carol Bacchi’s discursive policy analysis tool—What’s the Problem Represented to Be (WPR)—to elucidate how VAWA (re)constituted and (re)shaped the ‘problem’ it claims to address, over three decades.  My research works to decolonise U.S. policy through challenging how federal discourse creates what we ‘know’ about Native communities and violence against Indigenous women. By intervening in evaluative policy analysis, I uncover ongoing colonial violence targeting Native women within VAWA. My research acts as a ‘refusal’ of the governmental dichotomy—accept U.S. policy or face more violence— and a space to highlight alternative paths to safety for Native women.

Impact of my research: I hope my research provides not only contributions to academia but also anticolonial activist resistance.This project creates impact through incorporating an intersectional, decolonizing approach. From a policymaking and analysis perspective, the methodologies I use problematize traditional evaluative policy processes. This strategy recognizes and contests the structural violence inherent in policymaking and policy analysis. Additionally, this project illuminates ongoing colonialism within U.S. anti-violence policy, creating space to contest these problematizations inside and outside of academia. My methodological practice requires direct action outside of research, and prioritizes using this research to aid struggles for land repatriation and decolonization.

Supervisor: Prof Joanna Bourke and Prof Oscar Guardiola- Rivera

Contact details:

Social Media: Twitter: @AllisonMcKibban


Helen Price, Planning, University College London

Pathway: Research Degree: Bartlett School of Planning

Research area & Contact details

About me: I grew up in Shropshire and now live across the “Border” in Powys near Welshpool. I am a Chartered Building Surveyor and Registered Valuer, with undergraduate degrees in Humanities and Building Surveying and postgraduate degrees in Architectural History and Business Administration, three of which I obtained whilst working full-time. I have over forty years’ experience in the construction and property professions. I am enthused by the dynamics of the UK residential property market.

My research: Buying a house is one of the most stressful events in life. This research will investigate the inherent processes, identify obstacles, and suggest how these issues can be overcome, likewise any barriers to resolution. The research will also examine potential Prop Tech solutions and make recommendations to policy makers about the need for changes to legislation when procedural or technological solutions will not suffice. Impact of my research: I will endeavour to bring trust and transparency to the residential property transaction process and reduce the time taken from acceptance of an offer to completion.

Supervisor: Dr D. Sanderson

Contact details:

Mini Saxena, Law, SOAS University of London

Pathway: Law, Socio-legal Studies and Criminology

Research area & Contact details

About me: I am a skilled and experienced lawyer who has studied and worked across multiple jurisdictions. I recently completed an LLM from Harvard Law School; during the previous academic year, I completed an LLM in Law and Gender from SOAS University of London. My research focuses on the intersections of gender and the law, including areas such as feminist legal theory, sex equality, and gender identity, sexual orientation, and the law.

My research: My proposed research addresses the highly controversial and complex issue of how the law should treat conditional consent to sexual intercourse, with a jurisdictional focus on India. Conditional consent to sexual intercourse occurs when someone puts explicit or implicit conditions on their consent to sexual intercourse – for example, that their partner wear a condom or pay them afterwards. My research asks two questions: (1) How should conditional consent be addressed by the law? (2) How should breaches of conditional consent be conceptualized under Indian law in particular?
The existing empirical work on how survivors view breaches of their conditional consent to sexual intercourse is limited to the US and to one condition: condom use. My research expands on this in three novel and important ways. First, it explores how survivors feel about breaches of other conditions, such as payment. Second, my research centres the testimony of those whose voices have historically been ignored in debates about conditional consent, such as sex workers and gender minorities. Third, my research is the first to address conditional consent in the Global South, where the legacy of colonialism plausibly gives rise to the need for different solutions than have hitherto been explored in Anglo-American law..

Impact of my research: There is little clarity on the legal treatment of conditional consent. Undertaking the type of systematic research I propose, using anthropological methodology, would be a significant contribution to the field. Further, while judgments and scholarship on conditional consent have recently emerged in the Global North, there is little focus on this issue in the Global South, which presents unique challenges. My research will shift the focus on these questions to the Global South.

Supervisor: Dr Kanika Sharma

Contact details:

Social Media: Twitter:

Sarojini Sapru, Geography, University College London

Pathway: Human Geography

Research area & Contact details

About me: I hold a BA in Political Science and Religious Studies from Grinnell College (2017), and an MSc in Contemporary India Studies from SOAS (2018). After graduating, and before starting my PhD I worked in the development sector – where my interests focused on developing and co-creating learning and evaluation frameworks by engaging participatory mechanisms with young people. I am passionate about centring this same approach in my doctoral project, and ensuring that the outputs that I produce are translatable beyond academia and academic spaces — and are engaging and accessible to the communities that I will work with during the course of my project and beyond.

My research: My project examines the ways in which migrant youth in Delhi – those who have come to the city since the 1990’s to take part in the economic possibilities it offers and in some cases to escape political uncertainty – are utilising globally circulating popular cultural forms. The project focuses on national migrants, as well as international migrants – youth from Afghanistan, Nepal, and African countries such as Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia; to explore the relationship between their (digital and physical) spaces, identities, and aesthetics. I focus on two diverse settlement communities in South Delhi to explore the spatial politics of graffiti writing and community art projects of migrant youth – who, to date, have been rendered invisible in academic and popular narratives of the city.

Impact of my research: This project aims to contribute a unique perspective to studies of Delhi, and urbanism in India more broadly. I seek to push existing regional framings and foreground multi-ethnic and multi-racial identities — highlighting the interactions between globally and locally circulating aesthetics, contestations, and juxtapositions. By working with muti-modal media, I aim to create research that is accessible and engaging beyond academic communities.


Dr Andrew Harris (primary);
Dr Pushpa Arabindoo (secondary)

Contact details:

Social Media: Twitter: @SarojiniSapru


Paulina Serrano Tama, Anthropology, University College London

Pathway: Culture, Heritage & History

Research area & Contact details

About me: I am a PhD student in the Anthropology Department at UCL. The research project in which I am working together with the ´Red Agroecológica del Austro’ (an Ecuadorian agroecological network) focuses on the intersection of the coloniality of 1) the body, 2) ontology, 3) power and 4) gender, and their connection to the current socioecological crises.
I hold a degree in law from the University of Azuay, Ecuador where I graduated as the best student in my cohort. After working in different law fields (including criminal & family law with a focus on gender violence at various pro-bono law firms, and civil law at the New York Supreme Court), I decided to pursue a Master´s degree in Anthropology. In 2021, I graduated with a distinction from the MSc in Politics, Violence and Crime at University College London.
I am committed to interdisciplinary research and the importance of bringing activism and academia together. In this context, I have been involved in various campaigns across the world, especially those concerned with gender, migrants, and ecological justice. For the last 4 months, I have worked for People & Planet as a Migrant Justice Coordinator, co-leading on our ‘Divest Borders’ campaign.

My research: Founded on a methodology that draws attention to sensory experiences and embodied knowledge, this project complements burgeoning research examining how non-hegemonic Western ontologies (ways of knowing and being in the world) offer insights into effectively reversing socioecological crises in the Anthropocene.
My focus is the sense of touch: how the particular reciprocity this sense creates – we cannot touch others without simultaneously being touched – brings humans into a more intimate, reciprocal relationship with nature and other humans. I will build on my previous research with ´Red Agroecológica del Austro’ (RAA), a peasant agroecological network in Ecuador’s biodiverse Andean region. I will explore how RAA’s ‘touch-based agroecology’ (agroecology centred on direct physical contact and reciprocity between humans and more-than-humans) and distinctive ontology centred on holistic notions of ‘well-being’ can:
1) Produce caring masculinities that embrace values of interdependency and relationality.
2) Challenge prevailing power relations in Ecuador characterised by gender inequities and extractive relations towards nature, including industrial agriculture.
3) Transcend the ‘coloniality of senses’: a term I propose to help explore how the senses might mediate reciprocal relationships.
In addition to stimulating anthropological debate around gender disparities and extractive socioecological relationships in the Anthropocene, a public, sensory exhibition will disseminate my findings to a wider audience.

Impact of my research: This project will contribute to innovative research in global health, gender, anthropological and environmental studies. The collaborative project with the RAA will enable the articulation of their members’ needs and the inclusion of their voices in policy discussions. Through the reporting of the project’s findings to policymakers and the wider public, this project will offer a novel, sensory-based framework grounded in peasant mestizo communities which can be used by the Ecuadorian government and civil society as a basis for tackling current ecological-humanitarian crises.
In addition to ongoing interactions with policymakers, three public conferences will be co-organised together with the RAA and the international network of Embodied Inequalities of the Anthropocene to present and disseminate the project’s results with government stakeholders, academic scholars and the general public. These conferences will result in two academic papers to be published in academic peer-reviewed journals. Moreover, I will present the PhD findings by displaying a multisensory exhibition, including the creation of a community orchard at University College London where humans and more-than-humans can interactively engage. It will highlight how attention to the sense of touch might foster reciprocal relationships between humans and more-than-humans (e.g., fruit trees). The exhibition will thus allow the sensory aspect of my methodology to be presented experientially and help disseminate my findings to a wider audience.


Anthropology Department: Dr Sahra Gibbon; Dr Dalia Iskander
Institute for Global Health: Dr Jennie Gamlin

Contact details:

Social Media: Twitter: pausetam

Louisa Long, Social Research Institute, University College London

Pathway: Social Policy

Research area & Contact details

About me:

I studied French and Russian as an undergraduate at Cambridge University before completing a law conversion and training as a solicitor at a law firm in London. I worked as a solicitor for several years before leaving to complete a master’s at SOAS in international relations and law. I have since worked on policy for an international NGO.
I have a longstanding interest in migrants’ rights and have consistently volunteered with migrant support services since finishing my undergraduate degree 10 years ago, including volunteering in Hackney Migrant Centre’s Access to Justice team for the past two years.  

My research:

My research explores undocumented female migrants’ experiences of accessing justice in London, and how gender, immigration status, and the condition of ‘illegality’ shape their encounters with the British legal environment.
The entrenchment of the government’s ‘Hostile Environment’ policy in recent years has restricted migrants’ rights, while successive Legal Aid cuts have made realising them financially unviable, complex, and often traumatic. Despite this, relatively little data exists on undocumented migrants, partly because their very status encourages them to live under the radar. Access to such data via the migrant support service where I volunteer, and where I will locate my fieldwork, therefore offers a unique research opportunity. Using ethnographic methods and quantitative data analysis, I will explore the barriers undocumented female migrants face in actualising their rights.

Impact of my research:

I will harness the expertise and connections I have built through my work with migrant support services and as a solicitor to produce socially relevant research at the nexus of academia and policy practice. My research will involve collaborating with partners in both the NGO and legal sectors.
Migration continues to be one of the most pressing and polarising subjects facing our generation. I hope that my analysis will be valuable in informing public debate and policymaking on timely questions around migrants’ rights in the UK.


Professor Mette Berg (primary)
Dr Agnieszka Kubal (secondary)

Contact details:

Social Media: Twitter: @Louisa__Long

Maisie Matthews, Thomas Coram Research Unit, Social Research Institute, University College London

Pathway: Education

Research area & Contact details

About me: I am a PhD student at UCL studying bisexual father families. I completed my BA (Hons) and MPhil at the University of Cambridge, working within the Centre for Family Research to study new family forms. My undergraduate dissertation focused on young adults conceived by assisted reproduction, and my MPhil thesis explored bisexual fathers’ experiences of identity. My PhD research extends this to consider how fathers’ bisexuality is experienced by all family members, in order to understand the significance of parents’ LGBTQ+ identity and experiences.

My research: My research considers the experiences of bisexual fathers and their family members, including how they think and feel about their identity, how this impacts parenting and family life, and the significance of social experiences on family members’ wellbeing. This involves using qualitative interviews and quantitative measures. As little is currently known about the experiences of bisexual parents, this research aims to explore the impact of parents’ personal identity on wider family experiences, rather than focusing solely on family composition as in some previous research.

Impact of my research: Understanding the ways in which bisexual father families experience bisexual identity, and how this may impact wider family functioning and dynamics, will be useful in broadening our conceptions of queer parenting and families. Considering the impacts of social experiences such as stigma and community connectedness on family members’ psychological wellbeing will be critical in highlighting risk and resilience factors for bisexual father families, and could guide future policy and supportive intervention for marginalised families.

Supervisor: Dr Sophie Zadeh

Contact details:

Social Media: @MaisieVMatthews

Mikaella Mavrogeni, Geography, University College London

Pathway: Quantitative Social Science: University College London

Research area & Contact details

About me: I was born and raised in Cyprus where I spent most of my life and I moved to London three years ago for university. Throughout my undergraduate degree in Geography with Social Data Science at UCL, I became fascinated by spatial data analysis and visualisation which motivated me to undertake this PhD project.
Most of my projects have been involved with sustainable urban development including how to better promote bike-sharing in London with its potential in triggering a modal shift away from cars and towards active modes of transport to reduce congestion and improve liveability and air quality. Through these projects I gained experience in RStudio, Python and QGIS where I was able to clean and manipulate data, as well as communicate it effectively through charts and maps.
In my spare time I enjoy spending time with friends and family and travelling the world as much as possible.

My research:

Geodemographics, or ‘the analysis of people by where they live’ present an organising framework for representing the sometimes highly variegated ways in which neighbourhoods are differentiated. They use a range of established techniques for summarising large volumes of conventional statistical data into summary profiles that policy makers find helpful in making resource allocation decisions. The core idea of this project is to extend already existing research upon geographies of residence and normal workplace to better understand the flux of activity patterns that characterise post-Covid Britain.
This will be undertaken using the plethora of new data sources that have become available in recent years. Specifically, I will utilise in app’ data recently (December 2021) purchased from industry value added resellers by the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) using resource provided by the ESRC’s World Class Labs budget. Such data, obtained with all appropriate user consents, can be repurposed to chart the movements of individual smartphone users throughout the day and night. Crucially, georeferencing of these activity patterns and their linkage to more conventional statistical and administrative sources, makes possible the segmentation of mobile populations into groups that share activity patterns as well as residential and workplace characteristics. ESRC CDRC will also provide ‘framework’ administrative and consumer data sources to which such data might be linked, notably the annual updates to the consumer registers (Lansley et al 2019; van Dijk et al 2021) that have been developed by both intending supervisors. Other CDRC data assets include detailed inventories of changing retail centre composition that can be used to supplement conventional employment-based statistics. Taken together, this offers the prospect of (a) extending geodemographic classifications to multiple activities beyond work – night-time residence divides and (b) allowing frequent updates of classifications to something approaching real time.
Such data do not present a panacea for such development, since (a) they are of largely unknown provenance and are likely more representative of some groups in society than others and (b) there are very significant issues in their linkage to principal anchor points of daily activities such as places of residence or work. New methods and techniques are thus required to link activity-based data to more conventional framework statistical sources. Consumer and administrative data as provided by the CDRC are an intermediate part of this data landscape, in that previous research may have established their fitness for some purposes, but not full integration into nationwide geodemographic classifications.

Impact of my research: The principal outcome of the research will be nationwide geodemographic classification of (a) residential neighbourhoods and (b) the urban centres that provide them with business and service functions. Emphasis will be put on differences in the temporal profiles of activities in relation to retail structure. The research will also provide a quantitative methodology for updating the methodology using conventional statistics, CDRC consumer and administrative data and in-app data sources. It will provide full metadata on the provenance of the classification, as well as use case studies.
The work will be of interest to the Office for National Statistics, which already contracts the task of developing census-based geodemographic classifications to CDRC and is keen to explore methods or enriching such classifications with or without future provisioning of census data inputs. It will be of particular interest to the Greater London Authority, that has recently contracted Didobi to provide data services related to 24-hour city economies. Didobi will lead a number of workshops to disseminate the classifications and they will also be made available through the ESRC CDRC data service.

Supervisor: Professor Paul Longley and Dr Justin Van Dijk (UCL), and Industry supervisor: Professor Matthew Hopkinson (Didobi)

Contact details:

Social Media: LinkedIn:

Ruth Tolani Foluso Ogundamisi, Social Research Institute, University College London

Pathway: Quantitative Social Science: University College London

Research area & Contact details

About me: I am a British Nigerian who grew up in Haringey, North London. My doctoral studies at UCL surround quantitative social sciences and research methods. Growing up, I have always had a passion for art leading me to take an art foundation year at Ravensbourne University London. Despite my creative background, I developed an interest in the social sciences. This interest was encouraged by my desire to identify and engage with the audiences I was creating for. Ultimately, my art was about people and as I began to interact more with my community, through my art, I began to explore stories highlighting people’s interactions with systems, society, and how these relationships affected people’s lives. Following my foundation year, I was inspired to pivot, completing a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences with Data Sciences at UCL where my interest in inequality and social policy grew. Throughout my studies, I have been keen to quantify sociological and political phenomena, as I found that quantitative approaches help illuminate theoretical discourse, inform policy, and enact change.

My research: My research investigates the impact of the pandemic and associated restrictions on the potential stagnation of social mobility in education and labour market trajectories for marginalised identities.
My research will contribute more broadly to the COVID Social Mobility & Opportunities study (COSMO), a UKRI/ESRC investment that is investigating Covid-19’s impact on social mobility and wellbeing of a representative cohort of young people who have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. Through my research, I plan to make use of the linkage between COSMO data and the Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT) administrative dataset.
I will focus on the intersectional socio-economic and geographical factors that impact mobility. This will, in turn, help build an understanding of the unequal impacts of the pandemic on university access for BAME students, those with disabilities, and those with a-typical household compositions. Through this, I can explore what environmental factors and resources are conducive to well-delivered education and social change.

Impact of my research: I plan on employing theories of intersectionality to understand how identity and circumstance interact across the cohort. In doing so I hope to contribute to the literature that recognises the unique emergent experiences that race, class, disability, and household compositions have on a population. From this, the alienation from equalising resources that the cohort experienced can be quantified and addressed. This could clarify the ways in which policies surrounding education and social welfare are enacted. Strengthening educational trajectories and promoting mobility ultimately benefit society at large, lessening the burden on social welfare by instrumentalising preventative and early intervention for families and pupils. I hope that my work allows social scientists to anticipate the long-term consequences of the pandemic, as well as promote possible safeguards that can alleviate the effects of potential subsequent global and economic crises.

Supervisor: Jake Anders

Contact details:

Social Media:

Twitter: @RuthTOgundamisi 

Sonia Quintero, Social Science and Social Work, University of East London

Pathway: Gender and Sexuality: University of East London

Research area & Contact details

About me: I am a queer Colombian–British poet. I have lived in London for 15 years and have published several poetry books, both in English and Spanish. In my poetry I explore mental health and social issues, and when writing in English I reflect on topics such as migration, refugees, identity and belonging. I did my undergraduate Psychosocial studies, as well as a MA in Conflict, Displacement and Human Security at University of East London (UEL) where I am an active member of The Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB). I have become an active member of the community and have led several projects that combine my passion for poetry and LGBTQ+ rights.
Six years ago, I started Newham Poetry Group, a grassroot initiative that facilitates access to creative writing for people who speak English as their second or third language as well as engaging with marginalised communities through artistic activities such as open mics, spoken words or even publishing their own books.
I also co-founded Queer Newham, a local initiative that brings visibility to LGBTQ+ issues in my area. We work closely with the LB Newham, community groups and neighbours to tackle discrimination, hate crime and other issues that impact us. 

My research: According to UNHCR (2020) there are more than 80 million people who have been forced to leave their home countries, from this number, there is an unrepresented community, the LGBTQ+ population. They face lack of understanding, rejection and persecution by families and state, but more important, often experience internal conflict due to internalised heteronormative discourses and values. The proposed project is based in the findings of my MA dissertation when working with LGBTQ refugees in London. The findings brought more complex questions about the impact of heteronormativity in the formation of identity, the lack of sense of belonging as results, in both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ refugees.
By exploring the experience of heteronormativity in LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ refugees’ life, the study will bring the issue of heteronormativity to the forefront of refugee well-being, as well as make the issue of heteronormativity part of current debates and recognise the crucial and central role it plays in the welfare of LGBTQ+ refugees. The research will contribute to develop approaches of addressing the inner conflict, in addition to address some of the factors that perpetuate a problematic approach, such as the persisting invisibilisation of LGBTQ+ identities and internalised homophobia in both refugees’ nations of origin and host countries. By documenting the experience of heteronormativity in LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ refugees, this analysis will highlight the difficulties encountered when this community is treated as homogenous, and the need for a wider approach in refugee studies.
An examination of the literature shows a lack of representation of the LGBTQ+ community in refugee’s studies, an insufficiency in approaching the topic of heteronormative and its implication in understanding refugees’ experiences. Studies about LGBTQ+ refugees are few and normally centred in legislation and policies (Wieland, R. Alessi, E. J. 2021.  Bachmann, 2016. Taylor, 2015. Sirriyeh, 2010. Fadlalla, 2011. Jordan, 2011. Ahmadi, 2001).

Impact of my research: The short-term impacts of the proposed study will be on LGBTQ+ refugees’ lives and other marginalised groups oppressed by heteronormativity. It will bring this issue to the forefront of debates about LGBTQ+ refugees’ well-being and welfare in the UK. Refugee studies are, mostly, based on a binary understanding of concepts such as gender, sexuality, race, nationality, and identity.
The research will have a medium-term impact in refugee studies literature, LGBTQ+ refugees’ lives, wider society, and the charity sector. This will be achieved by contributing to the development of effective approaches to addressing the factors that perpetuate the persisting invisibilisation of LGBTQ+ identities. The research will also inform strategies for addressing the difficulties encountered when this community is treated as homogenous or a mere subsection of the general refugee population, as well as the effects of the internalised homophobia in both the refugees’ countries of origin and host nations.

Supervisor: Giorgia Dona

Social Media: @Sonesquin (Twitter)


Anna Hockley, Department of Language and Cognition, University College London

Pathway: Linguistics: University College London

Research area & Contact details

My research:

There are 850,000 UK dementia cases, with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) accounting for two-thirds. The cost of dementia in the UK is expected to more than double in the next 25 years (Alzheimer’s Research UK). Language difficulties occur in all dementia sub-types, affecting e.g. word-finding, and understanding others. Worsening language difficulties correlate with increased problem behaviours. People with AD experience declining ability to communicate thoughts and needs, and increasing difficulties with social interaction and sustaining relationships. Communication challenges negatively affect caregivers. Speech and language therapists (SLTs) are healthcare professionals with expertise in assessing and treating language and communication disorders. Few SLTs work in specialist dementia services – most encounter people with AD within a non-specialist caseload, e.g. during acute hospital admission or within a general community therapy team. As AD diagnosis improves, non-specialist SLT services need effective ways to manage referrals, determining which people with AD would benefit from what communication intervention at what time point.
The project’s primary aim is to coproduce with stakeholders and user-test a communication intervention decision-making support tool for non-specialist SLTs treating AD. It applies research methods in linguistics to healthcare to tackle the neglected communication-related social and psychological impacts of AD. It addresses the ESRC’s priority areas of mental health and innovation in healthcare, specifically the challenges of SLT service delivery in dementia, with implications for service-user/carer relationships and quality-of-life. This is a four stage project. Stage 1 involves a scoping review of communication interventions in AD. Stage 2 seeks to understand the experiences, practice and needs of non-dementia specialist SLTs through thematic analysis of focus groups. Stage 3 comprises stakeholder workshops to coproduce a communication intervention decision-making support tool, using experience-based co-design and consensus methodologies. Stage 4 user-tests the tool in non-specialist SLT services to explore and address issues of change using implementation science theory.

Impact of my research:

This project is designed with user-impact in mind; its aim to produce a tool with clinical impact for people with dementia and their caregivers. Stage 2 explores perspectives of SLTs, the target-users. Stage 3 employs co-production methodology to develop the tool with stakeholders. Stage four user-tests the tool in the NHS, focussing on implementation. I will provide training workshops and ongoing support to SLTs whilst they trial the tool clinically, promoting knowledge-exchange.
I will engage with dementia networks including Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, SLT clinical-excellence and memory clinic networks to seek stakeholder volunteers and disseminate findings. Funding will be sought via NIHR’s Research Design Service public involvement fund to reimburse advisors. I will hold remote and in-person stakeholder events mid-way and near finalising the PhD to disseminate findings. I will write articles for professional magazines and dementia websites. I have allocated time for networking and presenting at multi-disciplinary conferences.

Supervisor: Dr Suzanne Beeke

Contact details:

Social Media: @robbo_ak

Lea Wiedmann, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, Department of Health Services Research and Policy, LSHTM

Pathway: Health & Wellbeing

Research area & Contact details

About me: After graduating from the University of Groningen with a BA (Hons) in International Relations and International Organization, I decided to pursue my interest in health economics, pharmaceutical policy and public health. I obtained the MSc International Health Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science and subsequently the MSc Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I am interested in health technology assessment and decision-making processes, particularly for rare disease treatments, in different countries.

My research: Rare disease treatments are typically associated with uncertainties which complicate judgements about their benefits in comparison to other alternatives. My PhD research explores how uncertainties in health technology assessment and decision-making processes for rare disease treatments are addressed and how they are considered by different stakeholders. This also includes identifying similarities and differences in approaches in different countries.

Impact of my research: In light of scarce healthcare resources, this research contributes to the development of evidence that can inform resource allocation decisions for rare diseases. A better understanding about uncertainty in health technology assessment processes can provide insights towards ensuring improved patient access to innovative treatments and better consistency in decision-making for rare disease treatments.

Supervisor: John Cairns & Ellen Nolte

Contact details:


Baye Berihun Asfaw: Psychological Sciences

Pathway: Health and Wellbeing

Research area & Contact details

About me:

I hold an M.A. in Clinical Psychology and an M.Sc. in International Health from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and Heidelberg University, Germany respectively. My area of research and practice focus mainly on understanding and helping curb the social determinants of mental health that creates unjust disadvantage among ´marginalized´ segments of society including refugees.

My research:

Rethinking cross-cultural psychotherapy: experiences of refugees and psychotherapists in London   Despite a high burden of mental health problems among refugees and asylum seekers, there is still limited knowledge about how mental health care can be effectively delivered to this group. The few existing studies are primarily limited to a superficial description of barriers, with pre-conceived theoretical explanations about what happens in cross-cultural psychotherapeutic encounter.   This study thus aims to shed some light on how refugees/asylum seekers respond to treatments,how they make meaning out of their interaction with a European psychotherapist (a European version of “a healer”) and how they integrate their explanatory model with those of the psychotherapists. In addition, it also aims to understand the reaction, experience and conceptualization of the process by psychotherapists who deal with “foreign or odd” explanatory models from refugees.   By applying Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as a guiding method to this inquiry, two groups of participants—refugees/asylum seekers and psychotherapists will be purposefully selected based on their unique and relevant experiences to answer the research questions. In doing so, semi-structured interviews will be used to collect data from the participants. Once the first interview is conducted with either of the group, data analysis will be carried out by a deeper engagement with every single case which will then be followed by pattern-seeking analysis across cases without overlooking any significant difference in meaning across cases.    

Impact of my research:

This study aims to contribute to the facilitation of more equitable mental healthcare for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (ASRs) by understanding their cross-cultural psychotherapeutic experience.

Supervisor: Professor JonathanSmith

Contact details:


Lottie Beauchamp: Law

Pathway: Law, Socio-Legal Studies and Criminology

Research area & Contact details

About me:

After graduating from Oxford University with a degree in English literature, I spent over a decade working in the welfare rights field, first as an MP’s caseworker and then as a housing law specialist at a leading charity. Alongside this I completed a part-time Master’s in social research and critical legal studies, with an emphasis on the role of land and housing in global racial capitalism.

My research:

It has become somewhat of a truism that Britain is in the grips of a housing crisis, affecting the homeownership prospects of younger cohorts (‘Generation Rent’) in particular.

But if we look at trends in tenure by ethnicity, it is apparent that homeownership decline has not been race neutral. Comparison of the 1991 Census and the 2017-19 Annual Population Survey reveals that rates of white homeownership have remained relatively stable over time, while rates of Indian and Pakistani homeownership have fallen by around 15 percentage points.

Critically, this shift has occurred in the wake of the reorientation of British identity around the figure of the homeowner. Britain tends to understand itself and be understood as a quintessential ‘homeowner society’ or ‘nation of homeowners’, concepts which can be traced back to the interwar period but gained greater traction in the latter half of the twentieth century, buttressed by the advent of neo-liberalism.

On one level, the term ‘homeowner society’ merely describes, or purports to describe, the British tenure distribution. But, more fundamentally, it represents or effects the possessive coding of British identity, the foregrounding of a possessive ethos in the construction of Britishness.

Impact of my research:

The significance of homeownership within British political and everyday life cannot be overstated. As above, Britain tends to understand itself and be understood as a quintessential ‘homeowner society’. But the roots of this national preoccupation are material, not ontological.   With the rolling back of state welfare under neo-liberalism – itself justified by the promise of universal wealth in housing – homeownership has become an increasingly important determinant of social and economic wellbeing. In this context, desire for homeownership and the anxieties produced by its decline are understandable.   Yet, despite evidence to the contrary, homeownership decline tends to be presented as a race-neutral phenomenon. My research aims to expose and address this gap by unpacking the racial dynamics of homeownership decline and its links to the possessive coding of British identity. This is an under-researched area requiring urgent attention, not least because of its potential relevance to audiences outside of academia. These include policymakers, who have tended to favour market-based and age-focused solutions to the current housing crisis, and the wider public, whose understanding of housing and related markets may be coloured by perceptions of intergenerational unfairness.

 Supervisor: Dr Sarah Keenan

Contact details:

Joy Brooks-Gilzeane: Politics

Pathway: Politics and International Relations

Research area & Contact details

About me: I hold a BA in European Studies from King’s College London, during which I spent a year studying at Sciences Po Paris. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I was involved in various projects surrounding diversity and inclusion, in addition to work surrounding decolonising the curriculum. I have also had the opportunity to work in the third sector in my local community and I advocate for women’s rights. Outside of university, I have written articles for publications such as the Financial Times, The Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management and the Meridian on a broad range of issues including Black British History, inequalities within intergenerational wealth planning as well as ethnic diversity within the water and environmental planning sector.

My research: I hold a BA in European Studies from King’s College London, during which I spent a year studying at Sciences Po Paris. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I was involved in various projects surrounding diversity and inclusion, in addition to work surrounding decolonising the curriculum. I have also had the opportunity to work in the third sector in my local community and I advocate for women’s rights. Outside of university, I have written articles for publications such as the Financial Times, The Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management and the Meridian on a broad range of issues including Black British History, inequalities within intergenerational wealth planning as well as ethnic diversity within the water and environmental planning sector.

Impact of my research:My research forms part of foundational feminist research, taking an intersectional approach to reconstruct a history that has been hidden. It will help to provide the tools to address structural inequalities in the UK and France which have caused feminist organising, particularly among racialised groups from the periphery. This research not only uncovers political engagement between these groups and the State, but also attempts to generate a new reading of contemporary feminist activism and political engagement.    

Supervisor: Dr Samantha Ashenden, Dr. Laura Richards-Gray 

Social Media:Twitter: @joybrooksg


Marco Castelluccio: Economics

Pathway: Economic and Quantitative Analysis

Research area & Contact details

About me:

I am a PhD candidate in Economics at UCL and a PhD Scholar at the IFS. Previously, I worked at the Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) as a research assistant, where I also completed my MSc in Economics, offered in collaboration with LUISS University. I also hold a BSc from University of Rome Tor Vergata.

My research: My main research interest lies within the field of applied microeconomics, with a special focus on environmental economics and firms. Currently, I am investigating how UK environmental and innovation policies have been shaping production and direction of innovation among UK manufacturers.

Impact of my research: I believe this research will provide evidence of some unintended consequences of past UK policies on the economy. This will be especially relevant nowadays, in a time in which the UK government has launched its Net Zero Strategy and Clean Growth Strategy and after the Russia-Ukraine war.

Supervisor: Professor Gabriel Ulyssea

Contact details:

Rongru Chen: Speech Hearing and Phonetic Sciences

Pathway: Linguistics

Research area & Contact detail

About me: I completed my undergraduate in 2020 in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages at Jinan University (JNU), Guangzhou, China. I then did a master’s in Language Sciences (Speech Sciences) at UCL. I had experience working as a research assistant at both JNU and UCLA Phonetics Lab.

My research: Communication often occurs in noise. When the audio signal is degraded, visual cues from the speaker’s facial and mouth movements help to improve our speech perception, especially for those with hearing loss. However, the neural mechanisms supporting audiovisual integration of speech in noise are largely unknown. In particular, the causal correlation between areas near the auditory cortex and audiovisual integration of speech in noise for individuals with and without hearing loss is not yet established. My research aims to address this gap and clarify the behavioural and neural mechanisms supporting audiovisual speech in noise. In my project, I will conduct behavioural eye-tracking study with two cognitive neuroscience methods for brain stimulation, namely TMS and tDCS.

Impact of my research: It is expected that my work will result in clarification of the causal role of areas near the auditory cortex and left prefrontal areas in the processing of audiovisual speech under challenging listening conditions. If I succeed in positively affecting speech perception performance using tDCS, then this result offers promising opportunities for further development into possible therapeutic interventions for those with speech perception difficulties, e.g., following a stroke. Moreover, the work will be the first step towards an integrative model of the relationship between individual speech perception, hearing ability, and cognitive capacity. Finally, this project adds to our current understanding of the neural substrates governing the perceptual robustness to tolerate various adverse listening conditions, one of the most fundamental and unique aspects of human speech perception.

Supervisor: Prof. Patti Adank

Contact details:

Social Media:

Adria Rius: Economics,SOAS

Pathway: International Development

Research area & Contact detail

About me: Adria Rius is a PhD candidate at the SOAS Department of Economics, working under the supervision of Prof. Antonio Andreoni. His research focuses on the formation and evolution of place-based industrial ecosystems in the context of the green transition. He holds an MSc in Development Economics from SOAS and a BSc in Economics from the University of Barcelona. As part of his BSc, he also studied at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.  Before joining SOAS, Adria worked as an economist for the Somaliland Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, as a researcher and policy analyst for the ILO Green Jobs Programme, and as a consultant for the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda. He has also been a research assistant to SOAS Emeritus Professor J.Sender and at the Department of Econometrics, Statistics, and Applied Economics of the University of Barcelona.

My research: The green transition is shaping the landscape of capitalist competition. This puts pressure on regions to adapt so as to retain competitive advantages, while at the same time represents an opportunity to steer processes of industrial renewal. In this context, this research studies how regional industrial systems are being reconfigured in response to the green transition, most notably by nurturing the required place-based capabilities to produce and innovate in green technologies. To do so, it analyses the emergence and evolution of the wind industry in the Basque Country and Navarre (Spain) industrial ecosystem.

Impact of my research: As a result, this research is expected to advance knowledge of the processes of industrial reconfiguration that the green transition entails. Grounded on how complex products are currently produced, it contributes to the literature by using a micro-founded meso-level approach to the study of place-based industrial change and dynamics. It is expected that this research sheds new light on the main mechanisms of industrial change, the role that specific firms and the ecosystems they are embedded in play in such processes, and the ability of regional public sector agencies to give industrial ecosystems a green direction.

Supervisor: Antonio Andreoni

Social Media:@AdriaR_R

Avinay Yadav: Geography, Birkbeck, University of London

Pathway: Sociology: Birkbeck University of London

Research area & Contact detail

About me: I am motivated by a lifelong interest in understanding the urban world from its socio-spatial margins, beyond the grandeur of urban planning and the myth of the great city perpetuated by the culture industry.

My research: My research interrogates urban geographies of waste in a ‘model’, tier-II city in India under a new cleanliness policy. My research will make significant contributions to understanding how waste continues to shape cities, the reproduction of socio-spatial inequalities and the life of labour under new forms of power and governance regimes.
Investigating a tier-II city will offer insights in diverse forms of urbanism beyond the metropolises of the global south. My project will make key conceptual and theoretical interventions to critical debates on postcolonial urban studies by presenting a critical appraisal of India’s cleanliness “model” with far reaching consequences on the future of inclusive and sustainable cities, thereby expanding the repertoire of cities informing urban theory.

Impact of my research: My research will contest the state-sponsored and mainstream media driven narratives of the ‘success’ of a pan-India cleanliness policy by bringing to fore the large-scale, adverse implications of the new policy on the governance of waste, environment, urban planning and informal labour practices.
Findings from the study can inform policy makers, civil society and other stakeholders. The project can facilitate the participation of stakeholders like informal waste workers during policy consultations. Similarly, a series of collaborative media outputs of this project like news articles, photo essays, dedicated social media accounts, podcasts, etc. in English and local languages will contribute to a critical understanding of the everyday effects of the policy, particularly from the perspective of those at the receiving end.

Supervisor: Dr. Mara Nogueira & Dr. Rosie Cox

Social Media: Twitter: @bambaidilli

Dougie Cochrane: I have an BA in Sociology from the University of Warwick and an MSc in Spatial Planning from UCL. My professional background includes a range of research positions, including on several projects concerned with housing issues in the UK.

Pathway: Urban Planning and Project Management

Research area & Contact details

About me: I have an BA in Sociology from the University of Warwick and an MSc in Spatial Planning from UCL. My professional background includes a range of research positions, including on several projects concerned with housing issues in the UK.

My research:

Following decades of market-oriented reforms to planning rules, the UK housing system is failing. In Southeast England, development pressures and unmet needs are at their most extreme, reflected in a chronic and sustained undersupply of new housing that disrupts the region’s core contribution to economic performance nationally. Examining the period of state stimulus and economic recovery since the 2008 financial crisis, this project explores how and why the Southeast’s urgent housing question remains unanswered. By focussing on this post-2008 conjuncture, it takes forward critical work investigating the ways in which contemporary modes of neoliberalised and financialised spatial governance are reflected and reproduced in the strategies of key state and market actors. However rather than starting with these globalising processes, this project begins at the level of individual large-scale developments, examining the role of local statecraft in their production to reveal the unevenness in state interests and practices across and within different contexts. Crucially, the project also explores the diverse motivations and influence of volume housebuilders and the ways in which they navigate and instrumentalise a deregulated planning system to achieve their objectives.   Case study developments will be selected from designated new towns in the Southeast. New towns are the primary object of study because of their unique position in UK planning policy; first, in the roll-out of social democracy and state-led mass housing, and later, as significant sites of neoliberal urban governance and development, embodying crucial shifts in the role of state and market actors in the delivery of new housing. Despite this history and ongoing debates considering how the new town legacy might help address more recent spatial challenges, little research has considered their contemporary role in housing delivery. My research seeks to address this gap. 

Impact of my research: Through in-depth case studies of recent large-scale developments, this project aims to provide a detailed empirical account of how and why state and market actors, operating in different local geographies and across multiple scales (national, regional, sub-regional, local), enable and/or impede the delivery of new homes. In doing so, it will contribute practical and timely evidence for policy debates about how housing needs, in the UK and elsewhere, might be met. The study’s detailed focus on state-market relations will also inform new ways of influencing and contesting housing policy and development processes to achieve more socially desirable outcomes.

Supervisor: Mike Raco and Joe Penny

Ioanna Gkoutna: I am a PhD candidate in Politics at UCL, and I also work as a research assistant for the SCHOOLPOL project.

I hold an MPhil in Politics (Comparative Government) from the University of Oxford (Nuffield College) and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Warwick.

Pathway: Politics and International Relations

Research area & Contact detail

About me: I am a PhD student at the UCL Department of Political Science. I hold an MPhil in Politics (Comparative Government) from the University of Oxford (Nuffield College) and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Warwick.

I hold an MPhil in Politics (Comparative Government) from the University of Oxford (Nuffield College) and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Warwick.

My research: My primary research interests are in comparative political behaviour and gender and politics.

In my PhD project, I focus on the politics of the household. Specifically, I explore how gender norms emerge, persist and are enforced at the household and community levels, and how these norms affect women’s participation in politics. I am also interested in the causes and (political) consequences of the “mental load” (i.e., cognitive household labour), through the lens of gender. 

A second strand of my research relates to the workings of social networks, and their implications for various outcomes, including political behaviour and the implementation of clientelistic strategies.

My methodological interests are in survey design, quantitative methods, and mixed methods. 

Impact of my research:Understanding how gender norms are formed and reproduced is a key task for scholars of inequality as well as policymakers. Specifically, while active policy is a key tool for changing societal norms, if we better understand the micro-level dynamics that make people more receptive to such norm-changing interventions, we can better comprehend how to effectively design policy and public sensitisation efforts that promote gender equality. 

Supervisor: Dr Adam Harris and Dr Alexandra Hartman

Contact details:



Hadil (Hadeel) Haj-Ali: Brain Lab, UCL. I completed a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Social Psychology, summa cum laude, at the University of Haifa. Previously, I investigated in the lab of Dr. Assaf Kron the neural foundation and structure of the conscious experience of emotions.

Pathway: Psychology
Research area & Contact details

About me: I am an ESRC-DTP Ph.D. student at the Affective Brain Lab, UCL. I completed a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Social Psychology, summa cum laude, at the University of Haifa. Previously, I investigated in the lab of Dr. Assaf Kron the neural foundation and structure of the conscious experience of emotions.

My research:
Why do small acts of risk-taking snowball into extreme and possibly life-threatening behaviors?
My research adopts an interdisciplinary methodological approach to elucidate the neurobiological mechanism through which small acts of risk-taking snowball into extreme high-risk behaviors. In particular, the research examines the hypothesis that emotional adaptation to risk underlies the escalation of risk-taking. To test the hypothesis, I use virtual reality to simulate a situation of risk and financial risk-taking tasks, and I measure risk-taking behaviors in addition to collecting measures of emotional arousal (e.g., neural, physiological).

Impact of my research: Understanding why and how risk-taking escalates to dangerous behaviors that can be financially or physically detrimental is important for developing tools to curb such behaviors and establishing prevention programs for vulnerable populations. The research will inform theory and practice in various fields, including sports, law enforcement, and health.

Supervisor: Professor Tali Sharot


Social Media:


Jazmine Amelia Hall: I am a recent MSc graduate from Goldsmiths University, where I completed a full-time MSc in  Cognitive and Clinical neuroscience with distinction. My passion for researching, and further understanding neurodevelopmental disorders

Pathway: Psychology

Research area & Contact details

About Me: I am a recent MSc graduate from Goldsmiths University, where I completed a full-time MSc in  Cognitive and Clinical neuroscience with distinction. My passion for researching, and further understanding neurodevelopmental disorders

My research: Neurodevelopmental disorders (ND) affect 3-4% of children in England1. Although some ND can be diagnosed before or at birth (e.g., Down’s syndrome), many cannot (e.g., autism). It is when social and communication abilities are noticeably compromised that diagnoses and treatments are introduced. However, by this relatively late developmental stage, these deficits can become highly debilitating. Current disorders are screened for based on cognitive deficits (DSM-5)2, focusing on the product of
development, rather than the unfolding processes of development, resulting in late diagnoses and inhibiting early intervention. This project will measure and map the development of motor behaviours (e.g., quality/quantity of fidgety behaviour, posture, gaze and manual action) and social-communication skills from birth to 12-months, in infants at high- (N=50) and low-risk (N=50) of ND. High-risk infants will
be recruited via external collaborator Royal Free NHS for infants born prematurely (N=25) and the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development (CBCD) for infants born into families with a sibling with autism (N=25). Low-risk children will also be recruited via the CBCD. By evaluating the associations between
measures of motor and social-communication ability in early development, we aim to create a richer understanding of how motor processes support cognitive development and reveal behavioural markers of both typical development and divergence from typicality. This novel approach can pave a way for earlier
diagnostic and intervention techniques that target and mitigate the severity of developing deficits. This project will provide platform for continued evaluation of the participant cohort through to diagnoses, at which time retrospective group comparisons can identify the motor behaviours and/or trajectories are
predictive of subsequent cognitive ability.

Impact of my research: This project aims to reveal discrete trajectories of typical and atypical development as a benchmark of infant development. Additionally, relationships between early motor and subsequent cognitive trajectories will illustrate how and when motor abilities support and contribute to cognitive ability.
Comparisons within and between low- and high-risk infant populations will reveal behavioural markers of risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. In the future, behavioural risk markers could facilitate progress in diagnostic practices (impacting upon policy), enabling earlier interventions that reduce the effects of developing deficits, increasing the quality of life of affected individuals and their families. Findings from
this proposed project will inform educators, clinicians, and parents interested in promoting children’s developmental disorders. To induce a widespread questioning of existing therapeutic and diagnostic practices associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, results will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals; presented at invited talks, seminars, conferences; and disseminated through the
primary supervisor’s science communication platform (

Supervisor: Dr Gilian Forrester


Gaby Heuchan:

Prior to starting my PhD, I obtained an undergraduate degree in Biology and a master’s degree in Clinical and Public Health Nutrition. My master’s dissertation was a systematic review of the effects of lockdowns and school closures on dietary behaviours of children and young people. Since completing my master’s degree I have worked as a research assistant on the ASCOT trial at UCL, a large study on health behaviours in those living with and beyond cancer. I am currently working towards publishing findings from my work on this project.

Pathway: Health & welfare: Life course and social epidemiology.

Research area & Contact details

About me:

Prior to starting my PhD, I obtained an undergraduate degree in Biology and a master’s degree in Clinical and Public Health Nutrition. My master’s dissertation was a systematic review of the effects of lockdowns and school closures on dietary behaviours of children and young people. Since completing my master’s degree I have worked as a research assistant on the ASCOT trial at UCL, a large study on health behaviours in those living with and beyond cancer. I am currently working towards publishing findings from my work on this project.

My research: I will be using data from the GEMINI twin research study to investigate the impact of ultra-processed food (UPF) intake in infancy and childhood on later appetite and weight trajectories. I will also conduct qualitative research to understand parents and caregivers’ motivations for buying ultra-processed food for their children. Additionally, I will study potential policy initiatives to reduce UPF intake in children during placement at the Food Foundation charity, who campaign for policy change and work with key decision-makers across the entire food system. The project research questions are:   1. What % energy intake is from UPF in toddlerhood and childhood, and what are the main food group contributors to UPF, in a contemporary population-based sample? 2. Do weight and appetite trajectories from toddlerhood to adolescence vary according to intake of UPF in toddlerhood and childhood? 3. Does intake of UPF in toddlerhood and childhood: (i) vary according to deprivation level; and (ii) mediate the well-established association between deprivation level and weight gain from toddlerhood to adolescence? 4. What are the relative genetic and environmental influences on intake of UPF in toddlerhood and childhood, and do influences change over time with increasing autonomy over food intake? 5. How can we reduce social inequalities in children’s consumption of UPF?

Impact of my research: This project will produce new information on UPF in toddlerhood and childhood in a large, population-based dataset that can be accessed by other researchers for future research. The project will contribute new knowledge for the evidence base needed for policy action, on the potential impact of UPF intake on: children’s appetite regulation and obesity risk; patterning of UPF intake by deprivation; the relative importance of genetic and environmental influences on intake of UPF from toddlerhood to childhood; the key drivers of food choices of parents living in areas of high deprivation; policy initiatives that parents would support. Ultimately, this study will provide the evidence needed to support policy action to reduce dietary inequalities experienced by children from low-income families, and fath resources. Partnering with the Food Foundation will ensure findings reach stakeholders at every level of the food system, from policymakers to parents, to support all those involved in the care of young children in improving their diets.

Supervisor: Dr Clare Llewellyn and Dr Rana Conway

Contact details:

Rebekka Mirjam Hölzle: Rebekka Mirjam Hölzle has been involved in migrants’ rights activism in the UK, France, Germany, and Greece and currently works within community organising, engagement, and advocacy with migrant communities in London. Her PhD project at the Birkbeck psychosocial studies department makes use of participatory methodologies to explore how migrant women negotiate and resist the UK’s hostile environment’s policies in the everyday, using a critical feminist and decolonial framework.

Pathway: Psychosocial Studies

Research area & Contact details

About me:Rebekka Mirjam Hölzle has been involved in migrants’ rights activism in the UK, France, Germany, and Greece and currently works within community organising, engagement, and advocacy with migrant communities in London. Her PhD project at the Birkbeck psychosocial studies department makes use of participatory methodologies to explore how migrant women negotiate and resist the UK’s hostile environment’s policies in the everyday, using a critical feminist and decolonial framework.

My research:My project explores the intersections of gender, race, and class in the making of borders/belonging, focusing on the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy. NRPF denies people access to any form of statutory support based on their immigration status (affecting people with limited or no leave in the UK). NRPF disproportionately pushes Black, female, single carers into destitution and can therefore be understood a key legal mechanism contributing to the precarisation of racialised life in the UK and as a contemporary expression of the British colonial enterprise.

In spite of grassroots organisations, trying to raise awareness on the devastating impact of NRPF, the issue remains gravely overlooked in academic, public and political discussions. I situate this within broader gendered, racialised and classed categories of inclusion and deservedness. Indeed, solidarity with ‘refugees’ often becomes framed in terms of them being ‘#refugeesnotmigrants’, implying that the presence of ‘refugees’ is more worthy or legitimate compared to supposedly ‘other’/‘economic’/‘illegal’ migrants. Within academic studies of migration in the UK, there is significantly more work around asylum and ‘forced’ displacement than other forms of precarious leave. And, although these are undoubtedly critical issues, this focus risks reproducing hierarchical categories of un/worthy presence.

In response, my project aims to explore alternative forms of migrant solidarity that challenge racialised and hierarchical categories of inclusion. I will work in partnership with local migrant grassroots organisations to explore how NRPF impacts the lives of migrant women, emphasising their strategies of survival and resistance, and their existing skills and knowledges. I am interested in exploring the critical role that access to information about legal rights and support services plays in a deliberately hostile and unnavigable system. My project therefore pays attention to knowledge-sharing as a key aspect of women’s resistance to racist and discriminatory legal systems. My methodological approach is grounded in a feminist and decolonial epistemology that privileges lived experience and dialogue. Based on this, my project seeks to contribute to exploring possibilities of counter-spaces of activism, solidarity, collective learning and care by migrant women and their communities.

Impact of my research:The focus on NRPF addresses an aspect of the UK’s hosile environment that has received little attention, despite affecting significant amounts of people, especially women of colour. The project challenges hierarchical formulations of migrant-solidarity around legal and moralistic conceptions of rightful presence, by attending to the experiences, knowledges, and resistance practises of women at the bottom of such hierarchies. It aims to raise awareness of the invisibilised challenges around NRPF and contribute to improving opportunities for migrant women’s socio-political participation, having a meaningful and relevant impact beyond academia. Close collaboration with local grassroots organisations will involve a range of public and community engagement activities and the collective production of non-academic outputs with participants. The interdisciplinary project hopes to make critical academic contributions to migration, postcolonial, gender, and psychosocial studies.

Supervisor: Dr. Kerry Harman and Dr. Jan Etienne

Contact details:

Social Media: Twitter: @Rebekka_Hoelzle


Cecilee Glaus Jones: I am interested in the relationship between religion and ethics, particularly as regards the sharī’ā tradition. After completing a BA in cultural anthropology in 2009, I undertook two graduate degrees relating to Islamic studies, first at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA (2009-2012) and then at SOAS (2018-2020).

Pathway: Culture, Heritage, and History—Anthropology

Research area & Contact details

About me: I am interested in the relationship between religion and ethics, particularly as regards the sharī’ā tradition. After completing a BA in cultural anthropology in 2009, I undertook two graduate degrees relating to Islamic studies, first at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA (2009-2012) and then at SOAS (2018-2020).

My research: My current project examines the relationship between Islamic ethical constructs and contemporary environmental efforts in Northern Algeria. I work with a variety of grassroots groups including organic farmers, agricultural co-ops, and city clean-up initiatives to observe 1) how concepts like ‘environment,’ ‘resources,’ and ‘responsibility’ take on local meaning, 2) what strategies actors put in place, and 3) how actors understand their work vis-à-vis Islamic ideological paradigms.

Impact of my research: My work seeks to add key research in three areas. First, it fills a gap in existing anthropological literature by giving an ethnographic voice to environmental ethics in a Muslim-majority context. Second, my research examines the ongoing migration of sharī’ā discourse into non-expert settings. While the vast majority of anthropological work on the sharī’ā is situated in courtrooms and classrooms, my work extends observations to arenas of social action. Finally, my field location responds to existing voids in social scholarship. My research contributes much-needed data on contemporary Algerian social life by examining local environmental concerns, the relationship between religious and ethical commitments, and ecological expertise.

Supervisor: Dr. Edward Simpson

Contact details:

Social Media:

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