Personal profile

Personal Statement

I am Professor of Youth, Migration and Social Justice and Vice Dean for Research for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences. I joined Strathclyde as a Lecturer in 2005, after working as a researcher at the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling. My research interests are in the areas of social justice and inequalities, with a focus on young people's experiences and views, the challenges facing traditionally marginalised groups and evidence-based policy and practice.

I am currently involved in three UKRI-funded projects, all focussed on examinging on-going disadvantages facing particular groups in society:

Between 2016-2019, I led an ESRC-funded project which examined issues of identity, citizenship and belonging among Central and Eastern European young people in the UK (see I also had a British Academy mid-Career Fellowship, 2016-2018, working on a study on young people's experiences of poverty and stigma.

My work sits within the University's strategic theme of People, Place & Policy, where we have significant cross-disciplinary expertise and a wealth of research at Strathclyde. I have expertise in research, policy and practice in relation to young people's everyday experiences, migrantized populations, youth citizenship, volunteering and political participation in society.

I have received research funding from the Economic & Social Research Council, British Academy, Medical Research Council, Volunteer Scotland, Save the Children and the Scottish Government. I have provided consultancy and training for international funders and research organisations, local authorities and NGOs in my areas of expertise and have also served as member of advisory boards for projects and organisations. I also contribute to teaching on our Social Policy programme, supervise Masters and PhD students and lead the postgraduate Research Skills Programme in the Faculty. 

Before I moved to the University of Strathclyde, I was a researcher in the Centre for the Child & Society, University of Glasgow, and a research fellow in the Institute of Education, 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. 

Research Interests

My research aims to promote a strong social justice agenda that challenges 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;
  • Minoritised children and youth, inclusion, identity and civic participation;
  • Inclusive approaches in education and public services, with a focus on Central and Eastern European groups, Roma, Gypsy Travellers;
  • Methodological and ethical issues in research with young people.

Poverty and its impact on children’s opportunities

  • Approaches to tackling poverty and social disadvantage, including multi-agency working;
  • Reducing educational underachievement of traditionally marginalised groups;
  • Impact of poverty on neighborhoods and young people as service users and their involvement in service improvement;
  • Young people’s use of technologies and the technological divide;
  • Approaches to involving practitioners and policy makers with research evidence and ways of supporting evidence-based practice.

Previous projects I have led as Principal Investigator over the last 15 years 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;

  • Intergenerational learning in Polish families funded by a grant from the Scottish Centre for Intergenerational Practice (SCIP), supported by the Scottish Government; 

  • 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;

  • 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;

  • An evaluation of home-school partnerships in early years in West Dunbartonshire Council (Funders: West Dunbartonshire Council/Save the Children); 

  • A scoping study on ethnic minority parents’ involvement in their children’s education (University of Strathclyde’s Research Fund); 

  • A scoping study on Gypsy/Traveller children’s learning experiences and opportunities of access to formal education (Funded by Save the Children); 

  • A project entitled Improving educational outcomes for children living in poverty through parental involvement in primary schools (Funded by Save the Children).

If you share my research interests and you are interested in studying for a PhD on migrant groups, social inequalities, young people’s everyday lives and participation, please get in touch.

Teaching Interests

I was Postgraduate Research Director (2016-2019) for the School of Social Work & Social Policy and also leading the Research Skills Programme for postgraduate students in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

I am interested in supervising postgraduate research in any of the research areas I work in and have an excellent record on supporting students apply for ESRC and Commonwealth scholarships and complete on time. 

I currently supervise the following doctoral students:

  • Silvia Behrens - Young people, activism and political participation (Faculty funded)
  • David Bomark- What we do together: Associational life, volunteering and the benefits for health and well-being (ESRC/Volunteer Scotland funded)
  • Elita Chamdimba- An ethnography of adolescents living with albinism in Malawi (Commonwealth funded)
  • Laureen Walker- The value of effectiveness of mentoring projects with unaccompanied minors (ESRC funded)
  • Sne Zondo- Experiences of health services and mental health support seeking among African migrants in Scotland 

Academic / Professional qualifications

Academic and professional qualifications

  • Leadership Certificate (2020), University of Oxford, Said Business School
  • PhD in Education (2004), University of Stirling
  • BA (First Class) in English and Romanian Studies (1998), University of Oradea, Romania
  • Diploma in Primary Education, Pedagogic College, Oradea

External contributions and recognition

  • Expert adviser and grant reviewer for research funding organisations in the UK (UKRI/ESRC), Poland (National Science Centre, NCN), Italy (Fondazione Cariplo), Austria (Austrian Science Fund, FWF), Portugal (Foudation for Science and Technology, FCT) and others;
  • Awards Panel member for Carnegie Trust (Scotland)
  • Elected Member of Young Academy of Scotland, RSE (2015-2019)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (since 2010)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Education, Learners' perceptions of teachers' non-verbal behaviours in the foreign language class, University of Stirling

Award Date: 15 Sept 2004

Bachelor of Literature or Bachelor of Letters, University of Oradea

Award Date: 30 Jun 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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