WRDTP ESRC Postdoctoral Fellows 2020-21

Nicola Antaki

University of Sheffield, ECY


Nicola is a practising architect and researcher specialising in learning, co-design and design for social change. She is an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Architecture University of Sheffield.

This fellowship consolidates her doctoral research (PhD at UCL Bartlett School of Architecture/Development Planning Unit 2019) that investigates design practice as civic pedagogy. Living between Mumbai and London since 2011, she combines education and design to develop a Collective Design Pedagogy, an approach that includes young people in (re)designing their environment. Her Collective Design Practice explores involving people in the production of space to activate rights to, and responsibilities for, the city through interdisciplinary means. Nicola taught Architecture at the University of Nottingham between 2005-2010.

As an architect she has worked most recently at Turner Works, We Made That and Cottrell and Vermeulen, fostering with each practice an actively inclusive approach to design and participation. In Mumbai, she co-founded the Mumbai biennial Photography Festival FOCUS, and collaborates regularly with urban farming initiative Fresh & Local, that works to create places for communities to grow their own food organically and improve health through gardens in the city.

Research interests: My research interests are situated between architecture, design, pedagogy, and informality. I use mixed methods, co-production and participatory action research to involve people in changing the places they inhabit.

Email: n.k.antaki@sheffield.ac.uk

Twitter: @nicantaki


Amy Atkinson

University of Leeds, ECY


Amy is an ESRC WRDTP Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Languages, Cultures, and Societies at the University of Leeds. Her fellowship is aligned with the Industrial Strategy.

Amy completed her BSc in Psychology at the University of Leeds. She then completed an MRes in Psychology at the University of York, before returning to the University of Leeds to complete her PhD. Her PhD investigated whether adults and children can direct their attention towards more valuable information in working memory. She also conducted work during her PhD investigating the extent to which educational professionals are aware of and understand working memory.

Amy’s fellowship will consolidate the work conducted during her PhD. During the fellowship, Amy will conduct some further research investigating how working memory abilities develop during childhood. She will also disseminate her new and existing findings to researchers (through academic conferences and publications) and educational professionals.

Research interests: working memory, development, childhood, memory, education

Email: a.l.atkinson@leeds.ac.uk

Twitter: @Amy__Atkinson

Marketa Dolezalova

University of Leeds, CDD


Marketa is an ESRC WRDTP Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds. She was awarded her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester in 2018, having previously completed a BA in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths College and MA in Anthropological Research at the University of Manchester.

Marketa’s doctoral thesis explored the lives of Czech and Slovak Roma who moved to Leeds in England after the expansion of the European Union in 2004 and discussed how the movement to the UK is linked for Roma with an imagined and desired upward social mobility, and a search for the ‘good life’ and well-being. This fellowship will expand her previous work on belonging, aspirations, and understandings of well-being of Roma in northern England and focus on disseminating her research, strengthening links with non-academic stakeholders and on further impact-related work.

Marketa has previously worked as research assistant on the Illiberal Turn project at Loughborough University and as a researcher with Advocacy Support (now Advonet) on the Roma Health Needs Assessment project and with Advocacy Support and the Haamla service on a research into Roma women’s experiences of maternity care in Leeds.

Research interests: inequality, migration, belonging, health and well-being, Roma, religion and religious healing, care.

Email: m.dolezalova@leeds.ac.uk

Gill Francis

University of York, ECY


Gill is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of York. Her primary research interest addresses children’s play. Her PhD investigated the relationship between pretend-play and counterfactual reasoning during the early years of child development. She has published research about free play which compares the social-behaviour of autistic and typically-developing children playing with passive and digital toys. Gill is also a member of the Children’s Play Policy Forum and partakes in play advocacy initiatives. She also mentors young children, motivating them to consider science as a career using her feature as a ‘Play Researcher’ in a children’s book entitled ‘Fantastic Jobs in Science’ written by Isabel Thomas. Through this fellowship, Gill will publish her PhD thesis and extend her PhD research to explore links among play, child psychopathology, and genetics. She is mentored by Dr Umar Toseeb who leads the “Child and Adolescent Neurodevelopmental Diversity” (CANDY) research lab. Her research contributes to the base of empirical evidence aimed at unpacking the contributions of play to specific aspects of child development.

Gill previously completed her undergraduate degree in “Educational Testing Measurement and Evaluation” at the University of the West Indies and worked as qualified primary school teacher for ten years in St. Lucia. Gill did her graduate studies at the University of Cambridge where she was awarded a Cambridge Commonwealth Shared Scholarship to pursue an MPhil and a Cambridge LEGO PhD Studentship to undertake a PhD in Psychology & Education. She studied at the centre for Play Education Development & Learning (PEDAL) and was supervised by Dr Jenny Gibson who runs the Play and Communication Lab (paclab).

Gill also applies her expertise as a cognitive developmental psychologist to international development research. Prior to this fellowship, Gill worked at the University of Cambridge. She worked as a research associate at the EdTech Hub and a research assistant with the centre for Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) on projects supporting culturally appropriate uses of educational technology and teacher professional development for better learning outcomes for children in low- and middle-income countries, respectively. She published a rapid evidence review on technology-supported personalised learning and is also a trained user of the teacher classroom observation tool (Teach) developed by the World Bank.

Research interests: Play, Cognitive Development, Psychopathology, and Genetics

Email: gill.francis@york.ac.uk

Twitter: @gillalthia

Charlotte Kitchen

University of York, WHC


Charlotte is an ESRC WRDTP Post-Doctoral Fellow based in the Public Health and Society Research Group, in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York.

Her undergraduate degree was in Psychology at Newcastle University and she studied Health Research Methods at Durham University. Charlotte holds a PhD in Health, also from Durham University. During her PhD, Charlotte was awarded a British Psychological Society Fellowship where she was based in the ESRC-supported Social Sciences Section of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, Parliament’s in-house source of independent, balanced and accessible analysis of public policy issues.

Charlotte’s PhD research examined the acceptability and feasibility of a brief, manualised ‘talking therapy’ called Behavioural Activation (BA) for adolescents with depression attending Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Her ESRC-funded Post-Doctoral Fellowship is entitled ‘Understanding young people’s engagement with psychological therapies through a social inequalities lens’ and provides the chance to re-focus her PhD research on an unanticipated area of interest and importance. Returning to this PhD dataset, Charlotte will re-analyse ethnographic and interview data from young people, their parents and clinicians to explore the impact of participant’s socioeconomic position, culture and life circumstances on their experience of and engagement with BA therapy. This work seeks to understand the variation in experience of psychotherapy using social inequalities as an explanatory framework to contribute to the on-going debate about how best to deliver psychotherapy to greater numbers of young people without excluding those who may need it the most. The fellowship will also enable Charlotte to undertake statistical training to develop future research proposals to further examine the relationship between social disadvantage and engagement in psychological therapies.

Research interests: Health inequalities in access to and engagement with psychological therapies in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; lived experience of psychological therapies; mixed methods; health policy.

Email: charlotte.kitchen@york.ac.uk

Twitter: @CharlotteKitch6


Emma Long

University of York, SCJ


Emma is an ESRC White Rose Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of York. Emma completed her PhD at Lancaster University’s Sociology Department in 2019. Through the thematic analysis of interviews with army partners and formal support providers, her PhD explored partners’ navigation and negotiation of coping strategies during the period of post-combat deployment. Notably, she found that gendered, militarised constructs of role-expectations limited the likelihood of support-seeking when required – particularly affecting perspectives of eligibility for military-organised welfare.

The Fellowship titled “Bringing the Homefront to the Forefront: Examining policy through centring lived experiences of military families in welfare provision” will be used to disseminate the findings of this research to academics, military/state/charity-organised welfare providers, and policy influencers, with the aim of improving military family welfare policy and provision. This will be achieved through various activities including publication of key findings around army partner’s experiences of deployment and related welfare provision in high-quality academic journals, stakeholder reports, and presentation of a paper at the upcoming European Research Group on Military and Society conference.  Emma will also organise a webinar on the challenges faced by military families in the UK, focusing on the gaps in current support provision and barriers to support seeking/provision. It will gather disparately organised actors with vested interests in military families, enabling dialogue and synthesis of ideas.  She will also conduct a small amount of additional research to compliment her thesis’ data to build an understanding of how life transitions impact perspectives of eligibility for support.

After completing her PhD Emma worked at the Army Families Federation as the Policy and Research Officer (2019-2020). She has also undertaken various Research Associate/Assistant roles at Lancaster University (Military Lives and Transformative Experiences, Community Vulnerability and Well-being in a Rural Village, and Situational and Structural Risks in Gambling) and the University of Lincoln (Breadwinning Mums, Caregiving Dads: Transforming Gender in Work and Childcare?). Emma has a strong interest in military family welfare as she is daughter to an Infantry Officer and partner to a Navy Pilot.

Research interests: Lived experiences of military families around deployments; welfare policies and militarism; support seeking and stigma; qualitative methodology; critical military studies and feminist theory.

Laura Towers

University of Sheffield, WHC


Laura is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield. She previously completed an undergraduate degree in English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Sheffield before moving to Sheffield Hallam to complete a PGCE in Primary Education. Laura was then a primary school teacher for several years before returning to the University of Sheffield to complete an MA in Sociology, followed by a PhD.

Laura’s ESRC funded PhD was titled ‘Life After Death: Experiences of Sibling Bereavement Over the Life Course’, which she successfully defended in early 2020. Her research explores the complexities of relationships and identity within the context of sibling bereavement. She is particularly interested in people’s everyday lived experience of this as it changes over time.

During the fellowship, Laura will collaborate with bereavement charities and organisations to share her research findings, co-produce professional material and enhance the provision offered to bereaved siblings. She will also contribute to academic knowledge and understanding through a series of publications and conference presentations.

Research interests: family, kinship, siblings, identity, bereavement, relationality, creative research methods, ethics of sensitive research

Email – Laura.towers@sheffield.ac.uk

Twitter – @ltowers728

Lauren White

University of Sheffield, WHC


Lauren is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield. Her ESRC project is titled ‘Everyday Life with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Mobilities, Accessibility and Belonging’. Lauren is a sociologist working at the intersections of everyday life, creative qualitative methodologies and the sociology of health and illness. As part of her research, she is also particularly interested in the socio-political dimensions of everyday toilet access. Lauren is driven by public engagement and impact in research, demonstrated by her close work with media outlets and supporting health charities. In 2017, Lauren won the ESRC Writing Prize for communicating her research to broader audiences.

Lauren was awarded her ESRC +3 funded PhD in 2020 in the Department of Sociological Studies at Sheffield. Her PhD titled, ‘Everyday Life with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)’ explored the daily navigations of living with a common, but often hidden, health condition. Lauren’s work into IBS strives to demonstrate that matters of accessibility in everyday life are not only important for those living with IBS, but are relatable features for everyone, and are thus important for an inclusive society as a whole.

During her ESRC fellowship, Lauren will be building on her previous work by exploring broader questions of mobility, accessibility and belonging. The core activities of this fellowship are directed towards disseminating key findings and bringing to attention the important accounts of living with a common condition that often falls under the public and academic radar. This fellowship will enable Lauren to communicate these social messages to multiple publics, including academic, the general public and policy audiences.

Research interests: everyday life; creative qualitative research methods; health and illness; mobilities.

Email: l.e.white@sheffield.ac.uk

Twitter: @laurenewhite184


Oznur Yardimci

University of York, CEL


Öznur is an urban studies scholar with an interdisciplinary background including a PhD in Sociology (Lancaster University/UK), an MSc in Political Science and a BSc in International Relations (both in Middle East Technical University/Turkey). After her PhD, she worked at the University of York as a visiting research associate in Sociology, where she contributed to the research environment with publications, running the Centre for Urban Research and teaching qualitative research methods. Prior to this fellowship, she worked as the chief field researcher in London case-study in the ESRC-funded research collaboration ‘The Citizenship Futures: Hopes for the Future’ project led by the department of Politics at the University of York.

Öznur’s research concerns urban regeneration, gentrification, reinvention of ‘problem’ places and people through state stigmatization, and contested reframing of citizenship. Her Phd project entitled ‘Promises and Costs of Gentrification: The Case of Dikmen Valley’ examined the ways in which people are drawn into, rather than excluded from, contemporary urban transformation projects and they respond to and negotiate with this invitation. The aim of this project was to extend the all too narrow focus on the market logic of profit, which arguably turns citizens into potential consumers/investors and the state to an economic actor in and of the market. Through a 9-month ethnographic field study in a municipal-led squatter transformation project area in the capital of Turkey, her PhD research shedded light into multiple experiences and competing interpretations of city-remaking, which are shaped by different, competing understandings regarding the ‘good’ citizen. By linking struggles over citizenship to urban regeneration, her project has opened a new area of research investigating how urban regeneration changes the power relations in society beyond changing socio-economic opportunities.

During this fellowship, Öznur aims to disseminate the findings from her PhD research and work towards developing a new, comparative research project that explores the role of urban regeneration in facilitating, maintaining and contesting the erosion of citizenship in different contexts going through democratic backsliding.

Email: oznur.yardimci@york.ac.uk


Choo Yoon Yi

University of Sheffield, CEL


I was awarded my PhD at Sheffield School of Architecture in 2019, having previously completed a B.S. in Architectural Engineering at Hanyang University in South Korea and MSc in Sustainable Architectural Studies at Sheffield School of Architecture.

Prior to commencing my doctoral study, I worked for several years in building design practice in South Korea and realised that in reality there was a lack of linking environmental and scientific knowledge with building design practice. My quest for better scientific understanding and research skills led me to studying for Bioclimatic Design with climate change.

As an ESRC White Rose Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield, I am currently working on ‘Thermal Stress Vulnerability and Resilience: Housing Stock Transformation fit for an Ageing Society in Future Climate’. This aims to quantify climate change impacts on the thermal stress of care home residents in northern England.

I am a Cities, Environment and Liveability researcher with specific interests in the areas of Computational Modelling of Urban Micro-environments for optimising sustainable bioclimatic design over the time frame of climate change projections.

  • Quantifying climate change impacts on built environments
  • Computational modelling of urban micro-environments
  • Data-driven building stock energy modelling
  • Bioclimatic Design with climate change

Email: choo.yi@sheffield.ac.uk