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Biography

I am a Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology and Security Studies in the Department of War Studies. My research interests include risk perception, risk and crisis communication, social identity, health security and terrorism. Specifically, I am interested in the impact of perceived moral, cultural and health threats on behaviour. The greater part of my research assesses psychological and behavioural responses to low-likelihood, high impact, extreme events such as chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) terrorism and marauding terrorist firearms attacks.  This research has (i) challenged assumptions about public panic by providing evidence to suggest that under-response can be as problematic as over-response during a crisis, and (ii) demonstrated the importance of communicating with members of the public before, during and after extreme events.

During my time in the Department of War Studies I have contributed to seven collaborative multi-institution projects, including leading the communication measures work package on the 3-year EU FP7 Security funded PRIME project on the prevention, interdiction and mitigation of lone actor terrorism. I am currently undertaking a series of follow up studies to further explore the impact of public vigilance campaigns on reporting behaviours and the longer-term impacts of pre-event communication on intention to adopt protective health behaviours. I am also conducting research on improving the behavioural impact of communications under the auspices of the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response.

As a consequence of my research into the impact of communication on risk perception and health behaviours I am an Honorary Public Health Academic Consultant at Public Health England. I have also been invited to join a number of advisory boards including the Cabinet Office National Risk Assessment Behavioural Science Expert Group (as Deputy Chair) and the Public Health England ERDG Psychosocial and Behavioural Issues Sub-group. I am a chartered member of the British Psychological Society and a member of the Society for Risk Analysis and the Society for Terrorism Research.

Research Interests

  • Risk perception
  • Risk and crisis communication
  • Social Identity
  • Terrorism
  • Health Security
  • Community resilience
  • Moral panic

Publications

For a list of publications please refer to the Research Portal

Teaching

  • 7SSWM048 The Social Dimensions of Terrorism (module convenor)
  • 7SSWM053 Homegrown Radicalisation and Counter-Radicalisation in Western Europe and North America (guest lecturer)
  • 6SSW0008 Disasters and Extreme Events (module convenor)

Expertise and Public Engagement

I regularly present project findings to and participate in workshops with government, industry and third sector organisations. For example, the Cabinet Office, Home Office, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), Scottish Government, Public Health England, National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters, Deloitte and the British Red Cross. I have worked as a consultant for CPNI and Public Health England.