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Personal profile

Personal Statement

I am Professor of Youth, Migration and Social Justice in the School of Social Work & Social Policy. My research interests are in the areas of social justice and inequalities, with a focus on children and young people's education, participation in society and equal opportunities. Until recently, I led an ESRC-funded project which looks at issues of identity, citizenship and belonging among Eastern European young people in the UK (see www.migrantyouth.org). I was also a British Academy mid-Career Fellow, 2016-2018, working on a project on young people's experiences of poverty and stigma in times of austerity.

My research sits within the Children & Young People and Families research cluster, which I lead in the School. I have expertise in research, policy and practice in relation to migrant children and youth, child and youth poverty, youth citizenship and belonging and young people's access to services.

My research has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, British Academy, Save the Children and the Scottish Government. I regularly provide consultancy and training for local authorities and NGOs in my specialist areas and sit on advisory groups for a range of organisations. I mainly teach on undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Social Policy, and also coordinate the postgraduate Research Skills Programme in the Faculty. 

Before I arrived at the University of Strathclyde, I worked in the Centre for the Child and Society, University of Glasgow, and in the School of Education at the University of Stirling.

I have a PhD in Education from the University of Stirling (2004) and I have been Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2010. I was also elected member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland (2014-2019).

Research Interests

My research aims to promote a strong social justice agenda that addresses social inequalities, especially in relation to traditionally marginalised groups, and to translate this research in changes in policy and practice. In pursuit of these aims, I draw upon theoretical and methodological insights from the new sociology of childhood, sociology of education, race and ethnicity studies and social policy. My research is particularly interested in social, cultural and educational contexts of exclusion, segregation and marginalisation - along with a concern for making research relevant to practitioners and policy makers- and falls within these themes:

Children and young people, migration, ethnicities and identity

  • Impact of family migration on children’s everyday lives, including educational opportunities, well-being and relationships;
  • Intergenerational relations and cultural learning in transnational families;
  • Ethnic minority children, inclusion, identity and civic participation;
  • Inclusive approaches in the education of ethnic minority groups, with a focus on Eastern European groups, Roma, Gypsy Travellers;
  • Methodological and ethical issues in doing research with young people.

Poverty and its impact on children’s opportunities

  • Approaches to tackling poverty and social disadvantage, including multi-agency working;
  • Reducing the educational underachievement in disadvantaged areas;
  • Impact of poverty on neighborhoods and children as service users and their involvement in consultation about service improvement;
  • Approaches to supporting parental engagement in children's learning;
  • Young people’s use of technologies and the technological divide;
  • Approaches to involving users such as practitioners and policy makers with research findings and ways of supporting evidence-based practice.

A list of my publications can be found on the ‘Publications’ section on this site or on academia.edu, which has downloadable versions of some of my papers.

If you share some of my research interests and you are thinking about a PhD in the areas of migrant groups, poverty and education, young people and services, young people’s everyday lives, please get in touch.

Expertise & Capabilities

Completed ESRC-funded research projects include studies on the experiences of Eastern European migrant young people in the UK and approaches to provision of services for migrant families.  I also led a project which examined ethnic minority families’ access to health services in Scotland and a study on Roma families’ experiences of education and other services in Glasgow.

Other projects I led as Principal Investigator include:

  • A project funded by the British Academy, conducted in partnership with Glasgow City Council, entitled Children on the margins: Roma migrants’ experiences of schooling and other services (£7,000; 2012- 2014)
  • A scoping study entitled Intergenerational learning in Polish families funded by a grant from the Scottish Centre for Intergenerational Practice (SCIP), supported by the Scottish Government; (£,7500; 2011)
  • An ESRC/SFC/LARCI-funded knowledge exchange programme under the ‘Engaging with Scottish Local Authorities Scheme’ conducted in partnership with Glasgow City Council, West Dunbartonshire Council and Save the Children, entitled Co-ordinating service provision and improving life changes for children in severe poverty (£99,400; 2009-2011).
  • An ESRC-funded project examining children’s experiences of migration in Scotland, entitled At Home Abroad: The life experiences of children of Eastern European migrant workers in Scotland (£189,500; 2008- 2010).
  • An evaluation of home-school partnerships in early years in West Dunbartonshire Council (Funders: West Dunbartonshire Council/Save the Children; £15,000; 2009);
  • A scoping study on ethnic minority parents’ involvement in their children’s education (University of Strathclyde’s Research Fund; £4,000;  2008)
  • A scoping study on Gypsy/Traveller children’s learning experiences and opportunities of access to formal education (Funded by Save the Children; £2,400; 2007);
  • A project entitled Improving educational outcomes for children living in poverty through parental involvement in primary schools (Funded by Save the Children; £8,000; 2007- 2008)


Teaching Interests

I was Postgraduate Research Director between 2016-2019. I still organise the Research Skills Programme for postgraduate students in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and teach research skills at postgraduate level. I can provide teaching, training and consultancy in the areas of expertise identified under my research profile.

I am interested in supervising postgraduate research in any of the research areas identified in my research outline. Get in touch with your proposal outline, if you think your research interests are aligned to mine. 

I currently supervise the following doctoral students:

  • Emmaleena Kakela- The impact of migration on cultural attitudes to female genital cutting in Scotland (ESRC Studentship)
  • Michaela Gardner- Negotiations of Classed Femininities and Engagement with Youth Services: An Intersectional Investigation of Inclusion and Empowerment (ESRC Studentship)
  • David Bomark- What we do together: Associational life, volunteering and the benefits for health and well-being (ESRC/Volunteer Scotland Collaborative Studentship)
  • Silvia Behrens- Young people and political participation (Faculty Studentship)
  • Laureen Walker- The impact and effectiveness of mentoring projects with unaccompanied minors (ESRC Scholarship)
  • Sne Zondo- Experiences of health services and mental health support seeking among African migrants in Scotland 

Academic / Professional qualifications

Academic and professional qualifications

  • PhD in Education
  • BA in English Language and Literature
  • Diploma in Primary Education

Other esteem indicators

Research funding reviewer:

  • ESRC Fellow of the Peer Reviewers’ College for grants and knowledge exchange proposals
  • Grant Panel member and Reviewer for Carnegie Trust

Member of professional associations:

  • Member of Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Social Policy Association (SPA);
  • British Sociological Association (BSA)

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Education, University of Stirling

Award Date: 1 Jan 2004

Bachelor of Literature or Bachelor of Letters, University of Oradea

Award Date: 1 Jan 1998

External positions

Elected member, Royal Society of Edinburgh's Young Academy of Scotland

2015 → …

Senior Peer Reviewer, ESRC Peer Review College

2014 → …


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