Centre for Public and Policy Engagement

Public Voice Scholars Scheme

A close up of a microphone with a busy conference room in the background.

The University has launched its new and prestigious Public Voice Scholars scheme with the appointment of fifteen new Public Voice Scholars. This is the first such scheme in the UK

The aim of the new Public Voice Scholars (PVS) scheme is to provide thought and practice leadership on public and policy engagement and research impact. The scheme will elevate the value of public engagement within the university, and the Public Voice Scholars will become important expressions of national and international leadership in public and policy engagement. The scholars will speak and act on behalf of their research expertise, the wider disciplinary context, and the university itself. They will also be a crucial route for the voice of communities to shape university research.

Public Voice Scholars

Our Public Voice Scholars come from disciplines across the university and have experience in co-produced research, engagement and knowledge exchange that leads to improvements in the lives of the public.

Round 2

Professor Tracey Loughran

Tracey Loughran Tracey aims to understand how people in the past have come to understand their place in the world: how their ideas, thoughts and feelings affect their capacity to change the world around them. This means that her research takes her into many areas, in particular the experience of gender, body and selfhood in twentieth century Britain. Her Wellcome Trust funded project resulted in the Bodies, Hearts, and Minds toolkit and generated over ninety oral history interviews that will be archived at the British Library. She takes pleasure in collaboration, learning from others and is happy to share what she has learned. Her scholarly work includes developing and running research networks and workshops, amongst many other activities that highlight the importance she places on interdisciplinarity. One of the achievements of which she is most proud is co-founding and leading the Eastern ARC Mentoring Scheme, alongside its Director, Phil Ward.

Dr James Canton

James Canton James is a writer of creative non-fiction and has taught on the MA in Wild Writing at the University of Essex from its start in 2009. His work often explores the interplay of landscape and literature, sometimes with a particular focus on East Anglia. His latest book, Grounded, journeys further: travelling throughout England and trying to identify how ancient folk connected to their landscape through an intimate sense of place and enchanted relationships. He has written for the Guardian, reviews for the Times Literary Supplement and Caught by the River and appears regularly on the radio and television

Dr Christina Kapadocha

Christina KapadochaChristina is a theatre and somatic practitioner-researcher with an ongoing professional experience as a performer and maker since 2007. Christina’s multidisciplinary practice research, for which among others she received the 2020 Outstanding Early Career Researcher award, focuses on how her original and somatically-inspired methodologies can enhance a diverse understanding of embodiment in artistic and non-artistic contexts. Her latest project under the umbrella title ‘Are We Still In Touch?’ spans from innovative perspectives on the use of touch in actor training to a new form of interactive performance about the impact of personal touch on self-care, wellbeing and creativity in communities. 

Dr Matthew Gillett

Matthew GillettMatthew is an academic and international lawyer with extensive experience in international courts and organisations, including the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. He is currently a United Nations Special Mandate holder, on the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. His interdisciplinary work on hate speech resulted in the Hartford Guidelines on Speech Crimes and his publications have been cited before international and hybrid courts. His research has been featured in international media, including the NBC; CNN; RFI; Suspilne; Testigo Directo; and the New York Times

Dr Mary Mazzilli

Mary MazzilliMary is a senior lecturer in Theatre, as well as a practicing playwright, dramaturge, assistant director and producer. She has developed her practice research methodology, crafting two plays that drew directly on the voices of migrant experiences in Essex (Priority Seating) and migrant healthcare workers (LifeStreams). These works have sought to encourage greater diversity and inclusivity in theatres and the communities that they serve. Her current work, alongside another Public Voice Scholar Phoebe Kisubi Mbasalaki, also aims to influence and inform employment policy in health and social care. She is a published poet and novelist, and has contributed to the Times Literary Supplement, Art Desk, Theatre Voice and the British Theatre Guide.

Paola di Guiseppantonio di Franco

Paola di Guiseppantonio di FrancoPaola’s research explores the intersection of material culture, heritage, and cognitive science, with a focus on the impact of new technologies on heritage-making and interpretation of past processes. This blend of expertise underpins her ambition to contribute to the advancement in understanding the dynamic relationship between technology, culture and the preservation of our shared heritage. Her current work, funded by the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, examines how community resilience can be enhanced using 3D technologies following natural disasters. She has also won the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies award for Practice Research Innovation for her co-direction of the film Italia Terremotata.

Dr Nick Cooper

Dr Nick CooperNick is a Cognitive Neuroscientist whose main joy is the brain: how it works, what happens when things go  wrong and what can we do about it?  His research expertise focuses on the psychophysiology of stress, the effects of stress on the brain and cognition, neurocognitive assessment of changes in brain function and novel approaches to the treatment of PTSD.  He has over twenty years of experience working with brain imaging and neuromodulation techniques, and is currently running a 4.5 years NIHR-funded study investigating the use of novel, outdoor interventions for the treatment of PTSD.  Outside of academia, he has set up a community interest company (iCARP CIC) for the provision of nature-based therapies for those with PTSD and other trauma-related pathologies. 

Dr Delaram Jarchi

Delaram JarchiDelaram's research on wearable sensors and biomedical signal processing has led her to focus on designing new algorithms to be used in various healthcare and agriculture applications. The goal of her research is to develop the next generation of smart wearables and embedded algorithms that can be used in clinical and real-world settings. She is a senior member of the Institute for Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and a chair of membership subcommittee IEEE SPS. Amongst other professional and scholarly activities, she is an editor for journals such as IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering and Scientific reports and a panel member of the Royal Society International Exchanges Committee.

Dr Danny Taggart 

Danny Taggart Danny is the Academic Director on the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology program. From 2019-2022 he worked at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse as Clinical Lead and Principal Psychologist for the Truth Project. Danny is also engaged with other inquiries into non-recent institutional abuse where he offers advice and guidance on how best to support survivors. He offers clinical consultation to professional groups working with trauma survivors; including legal, media and health and social care. Danny’s current research focuses on survivors’ engagement with public services and how services can offer safer access to victims of institutional harms. 

Nick Aldred

Nick AldredNick is a marine larval ecologist with broad interests around the dispersal, recruitment, settlement and adhesion of invertebrate larvae in their natural habitats and on man-made structures (biofouling).  His current research spans mechanisms of adhesion found in nature that have properties superior to our best synthetic adhesives, the environmental effects of fouling-control systems used by the maritime industry and directed community-design of bacterial biofilms to reduce biofouling and corrosion.  Nick works widely with charities, industry and defence funders to translate his basic research into practical solutions. He was a founding member of the European Network of Bioadhesion Expertise and is an Editorial Board member of Marine Biotechnology and the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. 

Dr Carly Wood

Carly WoodCarly is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Health, Exercise and Active Lifestyle Research Group. Her research focuses on links between physical activity, environment, and health. She is particularly interested in the use of nature-based interventions for the prevention and treatment of poor mental health and exploring how they can be embedded within health systems, ensuring access for all. Carly has collaborated with a range of charitable and public sector organisations including The Wilderness Foundation, Essex County Council and Thrive. She is a member of the Therapeutic Horticulture Stakeholder Group, established by Natural England and funders of her research include the UKRI Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health Network. She has also undertaken evaluations of nature-based interventions for public and charitable organisations. 

Dr Victor Pouliquen

VictorVictor’s research focuses on public policies in low-income countries. He collaborates with administrations and NGOs in West Africa to develop and evaluate new approaches to poverty reduction and state-building. His work helps NGO design effective information campaigns to reduce misinformation in several countries. In Senegal, he works with the administration to make taxation more effective and equitable. Finally, he studies how improving waste management services can mitigate pollution and boost public health in Gambia.

Dr Rebecca Warren

Rebecca WarrenRebecca’s approach to research, teaching, engagement and impact is underpinned by her dedication to academic activism and challenging social injustices. The common thread is her commitment to working with a range of partners to deliver social change and accountability. Her work focuses on accountability in a broad sense, examining how power can be held to account to generate social change, via the creation and development of communities and community organising methodology. She has explored these challenges with community-based organisations, including Eastlight Community Homes, Community360 and Dance East. Additionally, in partnership with Citizens UK Rebecca has developed the innovative and award-winning module, Democracy in Action. Rebecca is currently co-chair of Citizens Essex, developing a clinic at the University focused on community organising. 

Phoebe Kisubi Mbasalaki

Pheobe KisubiPhoebe’s research covers critical race theory, class, gender and sexuality, focusing on de-colonising thought and praxis. Her academic activism takes creative forms, drawing on arts-based practices and research in the context of sexual reproductive health, sex work and experiences of migration. She's recently been involved with inter-disciplinary research/practice research and engagement with Public Voice Scholar, Mary Mazzilli (LiFTS) on their project LifeStreams, drawing on experiences of health and social care migrant workers. They aim to inform policy makers in the health and social care sector. 

Raluca Soreanu  

RalucaRaluca’s work sits at the intersection of psychosocial studies, psychoanalysis, social theory, and medical humanities. Her research therefore covers multiple terrains: free psychoanalytic clinics; the experience of how collective trauma and psychic splitting intermingle with collective creativity, mourning and recognition; and the connections between medical and psychoanalytic epistemologies. She has received funding from, amongst others, the UKRI Frontier Research Grant scheme and a Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust. Raluca has organised trans-disciplinary opportunities for teaching and knowledge exchange between universities and psychoanalytic societies, cultural institutions and research networks. She has also conceived, curated and displayed five exhibitions, creating engaged publics for psychoanalytic ideas and practice.  

Dr Miranda Simon

Miranda SimonMiranda’s research and teaching interests address international relations and comparative politics; particularly focusing on migration, refugee movement, immigration policy and international development. Specialising in computational methods, field and survey experiments, her work on modelling the spill-overs of development interventions and the impact of interventions on decision-making on migration has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council and the International Organisation of Migration. 

Round 1

Dr Anna Sturrock

anna sturrockAnna is an aquatic ecologist using natural tags to track fish movements, diet and health. Her work identifies the critical habitats supporting wild capture fisheries and the factors influencing survival and resilience. This research helps to inform targeted management and conservation measures to protect critical ecosystem services during this time of unprecedented global change. Anna is very active in public engagement, contributing to the “Ocean Travellers” project, showcased at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in 2022, as well as other public events including British Science week.

Dr Anna Sturrock, Lecturer, School of Life Sciences

Dr Koldo Casla

Dr Koldo Casla

Koldo is the Director of the Human Rights Centre Clinic and lead for the “Human Rights Local” project. His main area of research is economic and social rights in the UK and internationally. Human Rights Local brings human rights closer to the ground, adapting international standards and principles to the local context. Human Rights Local is forming strong connections with a number of local community groups based in Colchester, Jaywick and Clacton. Koldo has worked with several NGOs and public authorities, including Amnesty International, Just Fair and the Human Rights Commissioner of the Basque Country (Spain).

Dr Koldo Casla, Lecturer, Essex Law School

Find out more about the research of Koldo Casla on the Brighter Futures Research Series blog.

Dr Alix Green

Alix GreenAlix came to academia after a career in policy, strategy and government affairs, which shaped her research interests in political culture and policy making, and the roles and responsibilities of historians in public life. She has since focused on co-produced projects with business archivists to help mobilise historical records for the present-day organisation, collaborating with the John Lewis Partnership, Unilever and Marks & Spencer archives, among others. The connections between archives, record-keeping and power animate her research, teaching and knowledge exchange work.

Dr Alix Green, Reader, Department of History

Dr Matt Lodder

Matt LodderMatt has recently published “Painted People: Humanity in 21 Tattoos” with mass-market publisher HarperCollins, which tracks the story of tattooing over more than 5,000 years. His research applying art-historical methods to the history of Western tattooing has underpinned a major exhibition “British Tattoo Art Revealed” that toured nationwide from 2017 to 2020.

He has also been the presenter of the television series “Art of Museums”, which was aired across Europe and beyond in late 2018 – early 2019, as well as contributing articles to the Guardian, History Today and other mainstream press and media outlets.

Dr Matt Lodder, Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Centre and Senior Lecturer (R), School of Philosophy and Art History

Find out more about the research of Matt Lodder on the Brighter Futures Research Series blog.

Dr Holly Maples

Holly Maples

Holly’s work as a practice-researcher has led her to the field of immersive performance and mixed reality productions and research into arts workers, precarity, and radical inclusion in the creative industries. Her recent research grants are supporting a dual focus on the decolonisation of the Heritage sector and Covid-19s impact on independent arts workers in the creative industries. Both these projects involve close liaison and collaboration with practitioners in the heritage and cultural industries, as well as diverse audiences in the UK and internationally.

Dr Holly Maples, Senior Lecturer, East 15 Acting School

Professor Anuj Kapilashrami

Dr Anuj Kapilashrami

Anuj is an Interdisciplinary social scientist trained in Sociology and Public Health, researching in the field of Health Policy and Systems. Her particular interests lie in the social and structural determination of health and the implications for rights and equity of global health policy and governance. Her passion for social justice underpins her public engagement and informs a longstanding association with the People’s Health Movement in India and the UK. She serves on the Board of Health Poverty Action, and as Chair of Medact (UK) and as Gender and Rights advisor for the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at the WHO. As the founding Chair of the Migration Health South Asia network (a network of 250 scholars and practitioners in migration health across 12 countries) she leads policy research and advocacy for integration of migration health and migration aware policies.

Professor Anuj Kapilashrami, Professor, School of Health and Social Care

Find out more about the research of Anuj Kapilashrami on the Brighter Futures Research Series blog.

Dr Ruth Lowry

Dr Ruth lowry

Ruth is a Practitioner Psychologist researching how physical activity can promote the health and wellbeing of specific populations, e.g., the elderly, sedentary employees and children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. She has led the evaluation of national and international projects including the use of Community Men’s Sheds (Step by Step) in Europe and a new model of Sexual Health Services for older adults (Sexual Health in the over Forty Fives). Her collaborative research currently addresses the use of rock drumming instruction for health and the promotion of physical activity for people living with dementia.

Dr Ruth Lowry, Reader, School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences

Find out more about the research of Ruth Lowry on the Brighter Futures Research Series blog.

Dr David Clark

David ClarkDavid is a Postdoctoral Fellow, specialising in quantitative and microbial ecology, macroecology, bioinformatics, modeling and statistics. Research that he has conducted on comparing flower phenology records submitted by members of the public to historic records suggests that shifts in phenology over time are likely due to climate change. This underpins his Bioblitz campaign (1st April – 30th September 2022), working with the Essex Wildlife Trust and using citizen science by encouraging them to contribute observations of flowering plants observed in the county, much of which is considered semi-arid. A second campaign is planned for 2023, with a view to running the project over 10 years to build a globally unique dataset.

Dr David Clark Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Institute for Analytics and Data Science)School of Life Sciences

Dr Joseph Bailey

Dr Joseph BaileyJoe’s research focuses on mathematical biology & ecology, particularly considering how random walk theory can be applied to individual and group movement. He used mathematical modelling to understand how ‘personalities’ in fish affect their movement and is using his expertise to describe how interactions between individuals affects their ability to successfully navigate and move as a group. His interest in mathematical education has contributed to his involvement with the “Ocean Travellers” project, showcased at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in 2022, as well as other public events including Science Museum Lates, New Scientist Live and Pint of Science. As Outreach Lead for Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, he organizes and presents at engagement events offered by the department for local schools. He previously worked at education focused organisations, including the Advanced Maths Support Program (AMSP) and the Royal Institution of Great Britain (Ri), and continues to work with them at various engagement and enrichment events.

Dr Joseph Bailey, Lecturer,  School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science,

Professor Gina Yannitell Reinhardt

Dr Gina ReinhardtGina’s research examines how decision making under uncertainty affects wealth distribution in society. Her research in this field has focused on the political economy of foreign aid, economic and social aid development, as well as the policy implications of disasters. She has been developing collaborative approaches between scholars and policy practitioners around the world to apply the rigorous approach of randomised control tests to the policy imperative of disaster-related work. Her most recent work highlights the importance of structuring diversity and inclusion in political science as a profession. Gina also plays the drums and harp and speaks Portuguese and Japanese.

Professor Gina Yannitell Reinhardt, ProfessorDepartment of Government

Find out more about the research of Gina Reinhardt on the Brighter Futures Research Series blog.

Dr Katerina Hadjimatheou

Dr Katerina HadjimatheouKat works at the intersection of ethics and criminology, examining the developments in technologies and data for policing, criminal justice and security. Her particular areas of expertise include domestic abuse, surveillance and human trafficking. She is Chair of the British Society of Criminology’s Policing Network, as well as a member of various policing and ethics committees. In 2021 she led the academic sub-group of a Home Office Task and Finish working group on revised guidance for the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme. Kat is also a volunteer for Age UK, running a reminiscence group and offering advice and support for end-of-life planning.

Dr Katerina Hadjimatheou Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology

Dr Amanda Cole

Dr Amanda ColeAmanda is a sociolinguist who researches language variation and change, language attitudes and ideologies and how language is used and spoken about in society. She specialises in accents spoken in South East England, including research showing that Essex accents have been heavily influenced by Cockney, and that there is accent bias in South East England which disadvantages people who are working class, from an ethnic minority background and/or from Essex or London. Building on her research, her work challenging and raising awareness of accent bias has included many public engagement activities such as providing training and public lectures on accent bias, the creation of linguistic art celebrating Essex dialects, and working with English and Media Centre to use her research to support English Language A Level teachers and students.

Dr Amanda Cole, Lecturer, Department of Language and Linguistics

Dr Jordan Osserman

Dr Jordan Osserman, Course Lead for BA Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies.Jordan’s research draws on feminist, queer and critical theory; the Lacanian tradition of psychoanalysis and the politics of the Left. He is a practitioner in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. His postdoctoral work on the Wellcome Trust funded project “Waiting Times” examined the role of time in the care of young people struggling with questions around gender. This is an ongoing ethnographic study of the UK’s only publicly funded health service for young people considering gender transition.

Dr Jordan Osserman, Lecturer, Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies

Find out more about the research of Jordan Osserman on the Brighter Futures Research Series blog.

Dr Erik Jacobi

Erik JacobiErik has a research background in marketing strategy, brand activism, consumer resistance, and consumer neuroscience. He is a member of the Management & Marketing Group at Essex Business School, Director of the University’s Neuromarketing Lab, and co-founder of the University’s interdisciplinary and interdepartmental Consumer Neuroscience Group. He frequently collaborates with colleagues from Essex Business School, the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, the Department of Psychology, and the University’s Research Enterprise Office to help especially startups and SMEs develop essential marketing competencies, effective brand identities and innovative marketing strategies.

Dr Erik Jacobi, Lecturer, Essex Business School (Management and Marketing)