I would call myself a cities and policy researcher by trade – which basically means that I’m interested in research that is relevant to cities and that has an impact on policy. Whilst currently being in the final stages of completing my PhD, when the exciting opportunity came up here at City-REDI I jumped at the chance to become part of a team whose research aims to better understand cities and their wider regions for better informing and influencing city-regional economic policy.
I graduated with a BA in Geography from the University of Sheffield in 2012 with first class honours, winning the Alice Garnett Prize and Hart Prize for my academic achievements. I then spent one year as an Intervention Co-ordinator working with young people in Doncaster, before taking up the opportunity to return to the University of Sheffield to undertake my PhD in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. In addition to contributing to teaching and research in my Department over the last three years, I was also awarded a scholarship by the ADH Crook Fellowship Scheme last year to work as a research associate for three months on a project with Sheffield First Partnership.
My PhD research explores the nature and nuances of place-based leadership and governance in the context of devolved power structures, fiscal austerity and an increased focus on city-regions. This is based on a series of in-depth interviews I carried out with high-level stakeholders in Doncaster and the wider City-Region which provided rich insights. It is my intention that the research outcomes will add to a growing debate around what leadership looks like for contemporary places, delivering practice-based results for the interest of policy-makers, practitioners and researchers in the field of city-regional economic development. Other projects I have also worked on during my PhD include a piece of research commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation examining neighbourhood disconnection in the UK and a project funded by the Bank of England examining the housing market search behaviours of users of Rightmove. In terms of methods my key skills most suit qualitative research, but I do also like to get involved in data and mapping from time-to-time and I am keen to further develop my skills in these areas.
With a focus on city-regions and in applying academic understanding to delivering practice-based results, my new role at City-REDI fits neatly with my research interests and expertise. Broadly, I will be responsible for developing new ideas and contributing towards the research of City-REDI, as well as helping to maximise the external impact and visibility of the Institute. The role will also however give me the opportunity to shape my position within the Institute as it continues to evolve and expand, opening up new opportunities for both academic and consultancy engagement and allowing me to continue my involvement with policymakers and the public in carrying out policy-orientated research. Over the coming months I look forward to exploring and getting involved in research for Birmingham and the West Midlands as part of the dynamic and talented team here at City-REDI.