WRDTP ESRC Postdoctoral Fellows

The ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme is aimed at those in the immediate postdoctoral stage of their career, and provides an opportunity for Fellows to maximise the outputs and impact of their PhD research.

2023-24 Postdoctoral Fellows

Alex Pearl

University of Leeds, WHC & CDD


Alex is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow based in the School of Law at the University of Leeds. Her Fellowship hopes to achieve academic, policy, and real-world impact to improve financial flourishing outcomes for disabled adults living in the community. Alex’s Fellowship aligns with both the ‘Wellbeing, Health and Communities’, and the ‘Civil Society, Development and Democracy’ Pathways. 

Alex obtained a first-class undergraduate degree in Law, before completing a master’s in International and European Human Rights Law, obtaining the highest marks ever awarded by the School of Law. She received the ‘School of Law Teaching and Research Scholarship’ to undertake her doctoral research and successfully defended her thesis in 2023.

Alex’s doctoral research involved a sociolegal examination of the impact of support on the legal, policy and practical challenges facing adults with cognitive impairments in managing their financial lives. Developing a novel approach to capability theory, Alex worked with disabled people, leading support providers and the banking sector to explore the impact of diverse and overlapping spheres of legal and policy regulation on the lived financial experiences of disabled people. Her research addresses issues around mental capacity law, the social care and benefits systems, equality and non-discrimination law, access to banking and the operation of contractual relations. 

During the Fellowship, Alex will focus on translating her research findings into real-world impact through academic publications, policy engagement activities and working closely with disabled people’s organisations to improve the financial flourishing experiences of disabled people. In addition, she hopes to obtain further research funding to continue research and network development in this field. 

Alex has published in the field of disability and human rights law and is an active member of both the Centre for Disability Studies and the Centre for Law and Social Justice at the University of Leeds. She has authored policy documents on behalf of these research centres which have been quoted in Select Committee reports. She is both a disability academic and activist with close links to disabled people’s organisations. Alex also sits on the board of trustees for international disability rights charity Ability Beyond Boarders and has a forthcoming co-edited book exploring new frontiers in disability research and activism, due for publication in 2024.   

Research interests: disability law; mental capacity law; equality and non-discrimination; financial inclusion; support provision; social care law; feminist theory; the capabilities approach; and engaged sociolegal disability research. 

Email: A.Pearl@leeds.ac.uk

Claire Crawford

University of York, SCJ


Claire is based at the Department of Politics and IR at the University of York. Her project is titled “Digital governance of social movements in contemporary India” and is mentored by Professor Sara de Jong. Previously Claire worked as an Associate Lecturer at York, teaching on postcolonial, gender and international politics. She completed her PhD at the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London, where her project “Social movement politics: postcolonialism, feminism and the digital in India” was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and supervised by Professor Humeira Iqtidar, Dr Poornima Paidipaty and Dr Paolo Gerbaudo. 

University of York Profile 


Lee Pretlove

University of Sheffield, DCA


Lee is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Information School, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield. His fellowship is within the Data, Communication, And New Technologies pathway but also has a relationship with the Wellbeing, Health and Communities pathway.

After a fifteen year career in information management and digital cultural heritage archives, Lee was awarded an AHRC WRoCAH PhD Competition Studentship in 2018. His thesis titled, “iRun: a situational, neo-assemblage perspective of information and records in running”, examined the information behaviour and practice of runners with their embodied information and self-tracking device data. Doctoral research also contributed to an innovative method of data collection using a 360 degree camera and a novel analytical method of analysis using DeLanda’s Assemblage Theory. Following the award of his doctoral degree, Lee worked as University Teaching Associate at the Information School, University of Sheffield for the 2022/3 academic year.

As a part of Lee’s fellowship, “Access and use of running self-tracking data for public health” he will undertake further research developed in co-production with non-academic partner organisations and communities related to physical health and digital inclusion. The first part intends to understand barriers to using digital technology amongst those digital excluded to improve physical health through running. The second parts will seek to understand and provide recommendations to counter the potential mental health dangers that self-tracking data practices in running can produce, as uncovered in doctoral research. Lee’s doctoral work and results of fellowship work will be disseminated through four research papers, two conference papers as well as delivery public talks and multimedia outreach using podcasts and a short video series. Lee will also be participating in training opportunities that will develop his skills in academic leadership to lead research that research to policy challenges related to inclusive digital health and wellbeing.

Aside from research in digital self-tracking technologies and their effects on people’s health and wellbeing, Lee’s research interests take a critical approach to sustainable information practices in physical activity, archival science practices and information legislation implementations concerning personal data, privacy and freedoms. His research is conducted in an environmentally sustainable way as possible, including a commitment to using sustainable, surface travel and avoiding air travel.

Kelly Lloyd

University of Leeds, WHC


Kelly is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences at the University of Leeds. Her fellowship is in the area of behavioural science to support cancer prevention among populations at higher risk of cancer. 

Kelly completed a BSc in Psychology at the University of Manchester and was awarded an ESRC 1+3 PhD at the University of Leeds. Her MA was in Social Research (Interdisciplinary), and her PhD was completed in the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences. Kelly’s thesis was titled: ‘Decision-making in cancer preventive therapy’. Her research involved investigating decision-making on aspirin for colorectal cancer prevention among people with Lynch syndrome who are at higher risk, members of the general public, and healthcare professionals. Kelly’s ESRC Fellowship will continue this work to generate further societal impact to improve access to aspirin for colorectal cancer prevention for patients, and further build her publication track record in this area. She will also build upon her PhD research to develop a funding proposal to support lifestyle interventions for cancer prevention among people with Lynch syndrome. The Fellowship will also support her training in the area of behavioural oncology and behavioural trials research by enabling her to apply to internationally renowned summer schools and conferences.

Research areas of interest: behavioural science and cancer prevention research; supporting patients at higher risk of cancer; innovative behavioural trial methodologies; qualitative research methods; open and transparent scientific practices.

Email: k.e.lloyd@leeds.ac.uk

Joe Ward

University of Sheffield, CDD


Dr Joseph Ward joined the Department of Politics and International Relations in September 2021 as a Teaching Associate. From 2021-2023, he taught on a range of modules across public policy, political economy and political theory. Prior to this he taught at the University of Birmingham, where he also completed his PhD in July 2022. He is currently working as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow.

University of Sheffield profile

Email: joseph.ward@sheffield.ac.uk

Selam Robi

University of Sheffield, SPEL


Selam Robi is an ESRC postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield.  Her research has thus far focused on the themes of Ethiopia’s structural transformation and industrialization, critical urban studies, the politics of urban development, spatial development planning and sustainability. 

Prior to embarking on an academic career, Selam has fulfilled a wide range of roles in international organisations, policy, advocacy, advisory services and consultancy. These roles spanned non-governmental organizations such as Farm Africa and the Africa Governance Initiative, grassroots organizations such as the Huairou Commission, intergovernmental agencies such as UN-HABITAT and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the US State Department’s Young African Leaders Initiative.

In 2017, She was awarded the Future Leaders of Sustainability Masters Distinction Scholarship to undertake a master’s program in Sustainable development at the University of Exeter. Her masters research project examined the role of global production networks in facilitating urban sustainability transitions within the state driven structural transformation programs based in Ethiopian cities. In 2018, she was awarded the highly competitive Social Sciences Faculty PhD Scholarship at the University of Sheffield. Her PhD research carried forward her previous research on Ethiopia’s urban industrial parks development program, shifting the focus to the problem of policy fragmentation between urban and industrial policy, which has been identified as one of the core challenges of structural transformation across the continent. Based on an interpretive policy analysis of the politics of policy integration in Ethiopia’s industrial parks development program, her PhD argues that the fragmentation of urban-industrial policy is best explained through the concept of authoritarian centralization, a novel concept which captures the ways in which the drive for authoritarian durability deters conceptual integration, integrative spatial planning, and infrastructural integration. In March 2023, she joined the African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC), based in the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester, as a Research Associate working on the development of an African Urban Reform Database and a domain report on Addis Ababa’s structural transformation. Both the database and the domain report fed into the consortium’s work of developing operationally relevant understandings of key urban development challenges in African Cities.


Selam’s current ESRC fellowship period will be used to consolidate her PhD research and make it available to academics, policy makers and practitioners through publication. The fellowship will also be used to expand the scope of her research agenda by undertaking limited new exploratory research on recent developments in the politics of urbanization in Ethiopia. Finally, the fellowship will support her development as an independent researcher by allowing for advanced skills and methods training, mentorship for the development of further research proposals and various opportunities to build networks in her field.

Key areas of Interest: Urban Industrialization, the political economy of urbanization in the global south, critical urban studies, the politics of Planning in post socialist states, Integrated spatial development planning, Interpretive policy analysis. 

Email: Selamawit.wondimu@gmail.com; s.robi@sheffield.ac.uk 

Simona Manni

University of York, WHC


Simona is an ESRC post-doctoral fellow at the department of Health Sciences and the Institute for Mental Health Research at the University of York. She is a researcher in interactive media specialised in participatory methods and co-design strategies to support communities in exploring how innovative digital technologies can be informed by their expressive needs and lived experience. 

After studying film studies and critical theory in Italy and documentary production in the UK, Simona specialised in co-design and participatory approaches. She has ten years of experience working as a facilitator using digital storytelling and expressive video techniques in community settings (with asylum seekers, people experiencing mental health problems, homeless young people, women using support services, care home residents living with dementia, people with learning disabilities).  She completed an EPSRC-funded PhD at the Digital Creativity Labs, University of York. The project, titled “Interactive Media and Non-Linear Participatory Narratives of Mental Health”,  is based on her practice as a participatory filmmaker and explored the role that interactive media can play in supporting the production of polyvocal participatory accounts of mental health. Simona worked longitudinally with five men with experience of mental illnesses, as they wrote, directed, and produced an interactive film which explores multiple perspectives on recovery, and which was then evaluated by audiences with varying levels of mental health awareness. The research showed that non-linear storytelling, typical of interactive media, can allow participants to shape more personal and complex accounts of their experiences and modalities of audience involvement that favour self-reflection and empathy. As a result, this practice-based research produced knowledge of novel methods for community storytelling, and a novel non-linear narrative forms that contribute to the field of participatory media, interactive design, and Arts and Health interventions.

Research interest: participatory film; interactive film; co-design; mental health; self-representation

Email: Simona.manni@york.ac.uk

Postdoctoral Fellows from previous years

  • Edward Brookes – University of Hull
  • Lucy Eddy – University of Bradford
  • Nirali Joshi – University of Sheffield
  • Tamsin Mitchell – University of Sheffield
  • Cara Molyneux – University of Leeds
  • Natalie Richardson – University of York

Further information about our 2022-23 Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Lindsey Collins – University of Bradford
  • Adam Ferhani – University of Sheffield
  • Natalie James – University of Leeds
  • Sarah Knight – University of York
  • Andrea Peinhopf – University of York
  • Euan Raffle – University of Leeds
  • Jamie Redman – University of Sheffield
  • Leon Felipe Tellez Contreras – University of Sheffield
  • Harriet Thew – University of Leeds

Further information about our 2021-22 Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Nicola Antaki – University of Sheffield
  • Amy Atkinson – University of Leeds
  • Marketa Dolezalova – University of Leeds
  • Gill Francis  – University of York
  • Charlotte Kitchen – University of York
  • Emma Long – University of York
  • Laura Towers – University of Sheffield
  • Lauren White – University of Sheffield
  • Oznur Yardimci – University of York
  • Choo Yoon Yi – University of Sheffield

Further information about our 2020-21 Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Dr Madeleine Power  – University of York
  • Dr Eleanor Bland – University of Leeds
  • Dr Chloe McRae Gilgan – University of York
  • Dr Ian Shannon – University of Leeds
  • Dr Emma James – University of York
  • Dr Eric Hoddy – University of Sheffield
  • Dr Sarah Joyce – University of Leeds

Further information about our 2019-20 Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Dr Charlotte Hoole – University of Sheffield
  • Dr Ellie Gore – University of Sheffield
  • Dr Jim Kaufman – University of Sheffield
  • Dr Sonja Erikainen – University of Leeds
  • Dr Emilee Rauschenberger – Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Dr Jingzhi Chen – University of York
  • Dr Rosie Campbell OBE – University of York

Further information about our 2018-19 Postdoctoral Fellows