Director announced for new Centre for Coastal Communities

  • Date

    Mon 11 Sep 23

Dr Emily Murray

Health inequalities expert Dr Emily Murray has been appointed as the Director of the new Centre for Coastal Communities at the University of Essex.

The new centre will be established in Clacton by the University of Essex as part of the £20m town centre improvement project being backed by the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

The centre will harness the strengths of the university to deliver research, innovation and impact, focusing on addressing the particular challenges and opportunities of coastal communities.

Its aim is to become a national hub of excellence for championing coastal communities and will form part of the Institute of Public Health and Wellbeing, which was established by the university in 2022.

New Director Dr Murray, who will be leaving her current role as a Senior Research Fellow at University College London Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, said: “I am thrilled and honoured to be appointed as Director of the Centre for Coastal Communities. I am very much looking forward to joining Essex, meeting new colleagues, and working together with partners to address the unique challenges of coastal communities.

“As someone who grew up in a coastal community, I was immediately drawn to Essex’s commitment to creating a national centre of excellence for championing coastal communities. My vision for the centre is one of inclusivity. That the research questions we ask, the data we create and the solutions we offer are truly informed by and for coastal communities.”

Welcoming Dr Murray’s appointment, University of Essex Dean of Partnerships (Research) Professor David O’Mahony said: “We are incredibly excited about this appointment. Emily’s knowledge and experience will help set a bold agenda for this new centre. This will build on her internationally excellent research on the effects of where people live across their life course on their health and wellbeing.

“Her ground-breaking interdisciplinary work is helping us understand many aspects of modern life including how growing up in a coastal community can impact on young people’s lives. Meanwhile her experience of discussing issues with the public through blogs, exhibitions, podcasts and social media will help us build strong partnerships and engagement in the communities we serve.”

The university was one of the partners which supported Tendring District Council’s successful bid for the transformational funding from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

Cllr Gina Placey, Tendring District Council Cabinet Member for Partnerships, said: “I look forward to welcoming Dr Murray to Tendring; her extensive research about health inequalities and improving health outcomes, will be a real asset to the new Centre for Coastal Communities.

“Not only will this build an excellent academic institution in Clacton, but the work with and for the local community will produce benefits for our local residents too.”

Cllr Tom Cunningham, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Planning a Growing Economy, said: "In light of the significant challenges our coastal communities face, the University of Essex's successful appointment of a new director for the envisioned Centre for Coastal Communities marks a pivotal step.

“It signals a shared commitment to tackling the pressing health, economic, and social challenges faced by these communities and aligns with our localised, levelling up priorities.”

The University of Essex is committed to supporting economic growth, regeneration and innovation in coastal communities near to its campuses.

As part of this, the University is a founding partner of Freeport East, one of twelve Freeports being established in the UK.