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Our team Research Team

We have a dynamic team of researchers, this group are essential to the progress of our activities, helping to drive and coordinate our portfolio.

  • Ben Fletcher

    PhD Researcher

    University of York
    Ben is a PhD student within the School for Business and Society at the University of York. He is exploring the key components of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in tackling wicked problems within the food system.Alongside his PhD, Ben supports the Bradford District Sustainable Food Partnership where he aided the co-development of the District Food Strategy.His research interests include systems transformation, hybrid business models, cross-sector collaboration, economic inclusion, and convenience foods.
    Ben has an MSc in Sustainability & Consultancy and a BA in Childhood Studies from the University of Leeds and varied professional cross-sectoral experience. Previous roles include Local Government Policy & Partnership Support, Consultancy, Youth Programme Delivery, and Manufacturing.
  • Georgios Pexas

    Lecturer in Environmental Sustainability Assessment

    Cranfield University

    Georgios is a Lecturer in Environmental Sustainability Assessment at the Cranfield Environment Centre, Cranfield University. He is an environmental biologist by training that has specialised, through MSc, PhD, and Postdoctoral studies and research, in spatiotemporal data analytics and modelling for informing environmental management and conservation strategies.

    His current work involves the development and application of holistic sustainability assessment methods on production systems within the food, water, and energy nexuses with case studies ranging from intensive livestock and crop production to sustainable aviation and the strategic expansion of renewable energy sources, and clients including DEFRA, FSA, MoD, and several UK and EU academic institutions. A common denominator of Georgios’ research is that it aims to generate novel insights considering the following axes: i) facilitate decision making at system level, ii) facilitate policy making at global scales, and iii) advance methods and knowledge in the life cycle sustainability assessment space.

    In the past, Georgios has worked in various research and innovation projects around: 1) sustainability trade-off assessment of future livestock feed and production system strategies, 2) evaluating the potential of Earth Observation to improve sustainable crop production, and 3) developing principles for effective coproduction of digital innovation to support sustainable agriculture. Dr Pexas has received the Sir Kenneth Blaxter Award by the British Society of Animal Sciences for his work on European pig production systems, and is an Associate Fellow of national and international professional associations in environmental management and life cycle assessment.

    Email: georgios.pexas@cranfield.ac.uk

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  • Dr. Ferne Edwards

    Research Fellow

    City, University of London

    Ferne is an interdisciplinary social scientist based at the Centre for Food Policy, City University London. Her work explores the justice, politics and sustainability of diverse food economies in city-regions. Ferne has conducted ethnographies on food waste, urban beekeeping, alternative food economies, food sharing and food policy in Australia, Venezuela, Spain, Norway and the UK, contributing knowledge to urban natures, conservation, design, and healthy and resilient cities.

    As a Research Fellow on FixOurFood, Ferne is part of a work package that examines and contributes towards developing the policies, governance structures, and decision-making processes that are necessary to transform the UK’s food systems.

    Ferne holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from the Australian National University. She has been involved in a wide range of international research projects, including SHARECITY, EdiCitNet and FoodCLIC. She is the editor of three books: Food for Degrowth: Perspectives and Practices (with Nelson, Routledge, 2021); Food, Senses and the City (with Gerritsen and Wesser, Routledge, 2021) and Urban Natures: Living the More-than-Human City (with Popartan and Pettersen, Berghahn, 2023). Her monograph based on almost twenty years of field research, Food Resistance Movements: Journeying through Alternative Food Networks, was published in 2023 (Palgrave).

    Email: ferne.edwards@city.ac.uk

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  • Rob Oxley

    Research Trainee

    University of York

    Rob is a Research Trainee in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York. Having recently completed an MSc in Health and Social Care, Rob has a strong interest in reducing health inequalities and improving health outcomes. He currently works on the auto-enrolment of free school meals project as part of FixOurFood, and has previously worked for Northumbria and Teesside University on various public health research projects, including Bring it on Brum! A Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme aiming to support children throughout holiday periods.

    His research interests primarily relate to the impact of food insecurity on a broad scale, from individual households to the wider healthcare system, having investigated the potential relationship between food insecurity and adherence to prescribed diets (e.g. a gluten-free diet) for his MSc thesis. Rob also has an interest in nutritional interventions and how these can improve health outcomes and athletic performance, and previously completed a BSc in Applied Sport and Exercise Science before publishing research in this field.

    Email: robert.oxley@york.ac.uk

  • Louise Padgett

    Research Associate

    University of York

    Louise is a Research Associate working on the Autoenrolment of free school meals project as well as providing support to the wider FixOurFood school food workstream. Her research interests include the evaluation of public health interventions using qualitative and evidence synthesis research methods. Louise has a BSc in Public Health Nutrition, a Master of Research in Medicine and is in the final stages of her PhD exploring the role and impact of volunteers delivering early years interventions.

    Prior to her career in research, Louise worked within the NHS and voluntary sector delivering public health interventions across the Yorkshire region. Working with the public and seeing the importance of successfully delivered public health interventions led to her career in researching how different health interventions can have the most positive outcomes.

    Email: louise.padgett@york.ac.uk

  • Dr Rebecca Newman

    Research Associate

    University of York

    Rebecca is focusing on governance for transforming food systems in Yorkshire. Previous to this she contributed to the Harvesting the Sun Twice project exploring how social factors might shape spatial suitability for Agri voltaic systems in East Africa. She also assisted on the Sensors for Clean Water project for the Stockholm Environment Institute exploring user-directed translation of new technologies. Rebecca’s PhD focused on sustainable land use planning in Zanzibar, where she used a water, energy and food nexus framework to support the development of sustainable land use plans. Her research approach involved connecting local community insights and experience into formal decision-making processes. Prior to this she carried out her MSc research in Kenya where she investigated land use and land cover implications for beekeeping livelihoods.

    Email: rebecca.newman@york.ac.uk

  • Dr Sundus Mahdi

    Research Associate

    University of York

    Sundus is a Research Associate in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York. She works on the school food work stream of FixOurFood. Sundus is passionate about food policies that aim to improve children’s diet and overall health whilst also reducing health inequalities. She also has a keen interest in whole systems approaches to see successful changes in behaviours and health outcomes.

    Sundus has completed an MSc in Health Psychology at University College London and a Wellcome Trust funded PhD in Public Health, Economics and Decision Sciences at the University of Sheffield. Her research was focused on exploring feasible approaches to evaluating dietary digital interventions with a focus on the Change4Life Food Scanner app and it’s impacts on clinical, economic and health outcomes.

    Throughout her PhD, Sundus established various public and third sector experience and collaborations. This included publishing a report on the salt content within crumpets in collaboration
    with Action on Salt and conducting consultations with local authorities in collaboration with OHID Y&H on issues relating to food in a school setting. Sundus has also led public engagement initiatives in delivering healthy eating workshops to primary school children.

    Email: sundus.mahdi@york.ac.uk

  • Dr Philip Hadley

    Research Associate

    University of York

    Philip is a Research Associate in the School for Business and Society at the University of York in May 2023, working on projects related to food systems, hybrid business models and their associated supply chains. Alongside Fix our Food, Philip is involved in NIHR-funded research exploring community food assets in Bradford and Tower Hamlets (London), as well as a UKRI-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership with a research institution and social enterprise in South Africa, aimed at supporting smallholder farmers to grow climate-resilient, indigenous crops, and engage in supply chain development.

    Philip holds a PhD in International Development, which explored hybrid co-operative companies in agriculture in central India, as well as the international organic cotton supply chains (and ‘novel’ partnership arrangements) in which they were operating. His research drew on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork to examine everyday practices of co-operation, institution building and value chain integration, as well as their representation by a diverse array of actors.

    Prior to his PhD, Philip worked in professional research, advocacy and project roles for a number of civil society organisations.

    Email: philip.hadley@york.ac.uk

  • Image of Nicola Nixon

    Nicola Nixon

    PhD Researcher

    University of York

    Nicola is currently working on her PhD with FixOurFood, based in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York. Her research focuses on how school food procurement can impact health and wellbeing outcomes for all children, working towards a more equal, healthier nation in conjunction with regenerating our natural environment. She is passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of all children through nutrition and diet and has been directly involved in school food transformation and the implementation of a whole school approach to food as Chair of Governors at a Yorkshire primary school.

    Nicola has 30 years of experience in senior and executive roles in domestic and international, industry leading, businesses working with boards and committees from both the public and private sector. She specialises in risk management, transformational change and restructure, and has extensive experience of using effective monitoring and evaluation to define and drive change. She has worked with a broad range of industries to understand organisational drivers, establish or revise strategic direction and develop supporting actions and policies. She brings a diversity of thought and experience of working in a collaborative manner with key stakeholders and large interdisciplinary teams.

    She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Accountants and a Registered Associate Nutritionist, with a first class BA (hons) in Business Studies and an MSc with distinction in Nutrition.

    Email: nicola.nixon@york.ac.uk

  • Rebecca Lait

    PhD Researcher

    University of York

    Rebecca is undertaking a PhD with FixOurFood, based in the School for Business and Society at the University of York. Having graduated from her undergraduate and masters degrees in Theoretical Physics, Rebecca is keen to apply her analytical and problem solving skills to FixOurFood projects. Her PhD work is investigating the role of power in the UK meat and livestock system in influencing the perception and controversy of meat and livestock reduction strategies. Having carried out research in public sector procurement supply chains as well as leading climate change citizen science engagement projects prior to starting her PhD, Rebecca is now bringing together her experiences to contribute to the development of a more regenerative, sustainable and fair food system

    Email: rsl521@york.ac.uk

  • Image of Kate Pickett

    Professor Kate Pickett

    Deputy Director of the Centre for Future Health & Associate Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity

    University of York

    Kate is Professor of Epidemiology, Deputy Director of the Centre for Future Health and Associate Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity, all at the University of York.  She is co-author, with Richard Wilkinson, of The Spirit Level (2009) and The Inner Level (2018).  Kate’s research focuses on the social determinants of wellbeing and inequalities.

    Follow her at @ProfKEPickett.

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  • Sam Buckton

    PhD Researcher

    University of York

    Sam is currently a PhD researcher at the University of York’s Department of Environment and Geography, researching how the practice of evaluation can support transformations towards regenerative futures in complex social-ecological systems such as food systems. A key part of his research involves collaboration with North Yorkshire Council to support the evaluation of its new food strategy. Prior to this, Sam was a Research Assistant with FixOurFood working on designing, delivering, and analysing results of Three Horizons workshops with Yorkshire food system stakeholders to co-create transformative pathways to regenerative futures. He is also researching understandings of regenerative systems and contributing to research on food system synergies and transformational forms of governance. Sam has a BA (Hons) in Biological Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and an MSc in Environmental Economics and Environmental Management from the University of York. His wide-ranging research interests include: societal transformations towards regenerative futures; transformation-focused evaluation; futures methods (particularly Three Horizons); ‘new economics’ beyond capitalism; youth activism and mental health in the face of global crises; natural history and ecology; and nature conservation. He is a Research Associate with Global Assessment for a New Economics (GANE), a Fellow with Collaborative for Bioregional Action Learning & Transformation (COBALT) and a Youth Advisory Board member for the University of Hull’s project exploring youth-led adaptation to climate change in Vietnam. He has also worked with numerous British nature conservation NGOs, including at the RSPB’s innovative Hope Farm, and with the University of Cambridge to produce its Biodiversity Action Plan.

    Email: sam.buckton@york.ac.uk

  • Eugyen Suzanne Om

    PhD Researcher

    University of York

    Suzanne is a PhD student at the University of York. She has a BSc in Environment, Economics and Ecology and an MSc in Environmental Economics and Environmental Management. Her interdisciplinary studies have led to her keen interest in researching food systems due to the interdependencies and connectedness. Her current research focuses on identifying and enabling synergies to support transformation to regenerative food systems. Her wider interests include business and environment, biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, environmental psychology, systems thinking and inner and outer transformational change for a sustainable future.

    Email: eso513@york.ac.uk

  • Dr Ruth Wade

    Research Fellow

    University of Leeds

    Ruth is a Research Fellow in the School of Biology at the University of Leeds. An ecologist at heart, her passion is to use knowledge and ideas from ecological systems in agricultural systems, working towards regenerative farming, whilst maintaining a resilient and productive farming system. Her role in FixOurFood is to quantify the impacts of regenerative farming practices on the soil, plants, interacting organisms and atmosphere. She completed her PhD in 2015, measuring the impact of predicted changes in UK rainfall patterns on barley crop production, plant defence as well as insect pests and their natural enemies. During her time as a Post-doctoral Research Associate, she worked at the University of Sheffield investigating the role of hedgerows and grass leys in supporting soil biodiversity in neighbouring agricultural fields, multifunctional landscape approaches and growth/survival trade-offs in different grass species. For the last three years she has worked as a Research Consultant at ADAS where she delivered research for the agricultural sector as well as worked directly with farmers in the UK, USA and Canada, trying to narrow the gap between actual and potential yields.

    Email: R.Wade@leeds.ac.uk

  • Dr Juan Pablo Cordero

    Research Associate

    University of York

    Juan Pablo is based in the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York, and is interested in the development of scientific software, big data research, visual representation of data, predictive numerical models and the effect of measurement uncertainty on model parameter estimation.

    His role in FixOurFood is to develop numerical models of the Yorkshire food system which can help predict the effect of systemic transformations of food production, storage, processing and consumption on measurable indicators with an emphasis on the effects on business models, dietary
    choices and environmental impact.

    Juan Pablo is a data scientist with a PhD in Astrophysics from The University of Manchester, and has previously worked in large international scientific collaborations such as the Dark Energy Survey and the SkyPy collaboration.

    Email: juanpablo.cordero@york.ac.uk

  • Dr Christopher Yap

    Research Fellow

    City, University of London

    Christopher is an urban geographer based at the Centre for Food Policy, City University. His research draws on political economy and political ecology perspectives, as well as visual participatory methods, to examine intersections between urbanisation, planning, inequality, and food systems governance. As a Research Fellow on FixOurFood, Christopher is part of a work package that examines and contributes towards developing the policies, governance structures, and decision-making processes that are necessary to transform the UK’s food systems.

    Christopher holds a PhD in human and social geography from the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University. He has previously been involved in a wide range of international research projects with University College London, the London International Development Centre, the International Institute for Environment and Development, and FIAN International.

    Email: christopher.yap@city.ac.uk

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  • Image of Ulrike Ehgartner

    Dr Ulrike Ehgartner

    Research Associate

    University of York

    Ulrike is a social scientist with a PhD in Sociology based at the York Management School. She is interested in sustainability, consumption and transformational change and she is passionate about co-productive and transdisciplinary forms of research. In her previous work, she focused on sustainable food consumption narratives and imagined futures through the lens of critical discourse analysis.

    In her role as a Research Associate for FixOurFood, she is dedicated to researching hybrid food economy initiatives and how they can impact production to consumption in a regenerative way.

    Email: ulrike.ehgartner@york.ac.uk

  • Image of Alana Kluczkovski

    Dr Alana Kluczkovski

    Research Fellow

    University of York

    Alana is based in the Department of Biology at the University of York. Her research focus is food production and its impact on human and planetary health. She works with the Hybrid Economies team running the innovative cutting edge technology urban indoor vertical farm, Grow It York, in the centre of York – located at the heart of the vibrant Spark container park.

    Exploring the benefits of controlled environment agriculture, Alana carries out research into the vertical farm’s environmental and social impacts. She investigates how to best use vertical farms as business models that prioritise social and environmental benefits (not just profit) and how they can be encouraged in the food system. She also engages with communities, local businesses and schools, helping them to understand how to transform food systems in a more equitable, healthy and sustainable way.

    Alana is also the Take a bite out of climate change consortium coordinator, where she produces educational resources to engage the public and guide policymakers about food choices to improve human and environmental health. Alana has previously been involved in a wide range of international research food systems related projects funded by N8 AgriFood Policy Hub, STFC Food Network+, STFC GCRF, UKRI GCRF and NERC and British Council.

    Email: alana.kluczkovski@york.ac.uk

  • Professor Peter Ball

    Professor of Operations Management

    University of York

    Peter Ball is Professor of Operations Management at the University of York Management School where he leads on business and community engagement. He researches at the interface between academia and industry. His passion is addressing research challenges and opportunities in manufacturing, especially sustainability. Peter uses modelling and simulation techniques to understand performance as well as working on practices that underpin performance. Through a management lens, he seeks to understand how processes in industry work and how they can be improved. His work includes circular economy, peer-to-peer learning between companies, barriers and enablers for advance and more generally addressing manufacturing productivity. Beyond FixOurFood, his recent projects include mapping manufacturing food waste in Yorkshire, environmental practice sharing in brewing, digitally enhanced services for domestic appliances to enhance asset life, the development of digital twins in production, developing low cost digital in aquaculture, circularity in low value consumer products and peer-to-peer learning for sustainability practices in the food and drink industry. He is a member of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP’s Carbon Neutral and Circular Economy Steering Group and Chair of the EPSRC Circular 4.0 Steering Board. He has the privilege of serving on the IET’s Design and Production Sector Executive as their sustainability lead. He has led and supported numerous funded interdisciplinary, multi-university research projects.

    Email: peter.ball@york.ac.uk

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