Energy and Society
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Below are the profiles of some of our members. Links to personal websites can be found on the left.

Dr Mhairi Aitken

Dr Mhairi Aitken is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Her research explores the social dimensions of renewable energy, with a particular focus on public engagement. Her previous, and ongoing, research has explored public perceptions of, and responses to renewable energy developments, the role of public participation in planning conflicts relating to wind farms and the implications of framings in climate change discourses for public engagement and energy policy. Her publications in this area are in high-ranking international journals relating to science and technology studies, renewable energy, environmental politics and planning theory. Currently she is involved in a number of Scottish Government commissioned research projects relating to renewable energy, in particular developing best practice guidance on community engagement; exploring opportunities for community investment in commercial energy projects and; exploring best practice in delivering community benefits from offshore renewable energy developments.

Francesca Batzella

Francesca Batzella recently finished her PhD at the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh with a thesis titled Faithful agent or independent actor? The European Commission in the external dimension of EU Energy Policy. Her research has explored the Commission behaviour and the relationship between the Commission and the Member States in the external dimension of the EU energy market. The thesis has looked at several case studies on internal EU legislation and on EU external representation in international fora dealing with energy. Francesca’s research interests include EU energy policy, EU policy-making, European Commission, European integration and EU external relations. 

Ronan Bolton

Ronan Bolton is Lecturer in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) at the School of Social and Political Science. His research examines the policy, market and regulatory challenges of transforming high carbon energy systems and enabling the deployment and diffusion of low carbon technologies and practices. Drawing from science and technology studies, innovation studies, and governance perspectives, his work has examined the changing relationships between regulators, government, energy companies, users and local authorities in the governance of energy systems at both the national and urban scales in the UK and internationally. His PhD research at Leeds looked at the social shaping of electricity and heat distribution networks in the UK. More recently he has examined new investment patterns in the electricity generation sector and the development of a European integrated electricity market in collaboration with the Scottish Government and ClimateXChange (Scotland's national centre for expertise on climate change).

Ruth Bush

Ruth Bush is the Stratego Project Officer based within the Heat and the City project team and the Scottish Government. Ruth¹s work on the Intelligent Energy Europe funded project aims to support local authorities in their work on district heating and the development of local heating and cooling strategic plans. Ruth is also a PhD student in the Doctoral Training Centre for Low Carbon Technologies at the University of Leeds. Her PhD explores options for strengthening the capacities of local authorities for leading district heating innovation in the UK. She is also interested in opportunities for using energy policies to alleviate fuel poverty alleviation and developed the Leeds Heat Planning Tool as part of a project funded by the Chesshire-Lehmann Fund. Previously she worked at the Sustainable Development Commission Scotland as their engagement officer.

Emily Creamer

Emily Creamer is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the School of Geosciences.  Her research primarily focuses on better understanding the position and influence of community-level action in low carbon energy transitions. She is particularly interested in exploring the interplay between policy and practice in attempts to incorporate communities as active players in the low carbon energy strategy in Scotland.  Emily is currently working on a European research project which explores the role of dialogue in low carbon energy transitions across ten different countries.  She has also done various pieces of work with ClimateXChange, including an ongoing project to establish and implement a common framework for capturing evidence of the social impacts of community energy across Scotland.

Jamie Cross

Jamie Cross is a Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology and Development. His research and teaching brings social anthropology to bear on problems, projects and technologies of ‘development’. Jamie joined the University of Edinburgh in 2011 with a regional specialisation in South Asia and am co-Director of the University of Edinburgh's Global Development Academy. He has carried out ethnographic fieldwork in India, Papua New Guinea and Scotland with support from the Leverhulme Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Royal Anthropological Institute, among others.

Dave Hawkey

Dave Hawkey is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Governance. His research focuses on the processes and impacts of contemporary efforts to establish local- and city-scale energy systems within established institutional and technical configurations. He is Research Fellow of the Heat and the City project (funded by the RC-UK Energy Programme), and Project Manager on the Local Engagement with Energy Systems project (co-funded by the Energy Technologies Institute and the UK Energy Research Centre). He contributes to the Scottish Government Heat Networks Partnership, and has provided evidence to a wide range of public consultation processes including having been invited to give oral evidence to the UK Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Committee. In his spare time he is a director of the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative.

Claire Haggett

Claire Haggett is Lecturer in the Sociology of Sustainability.  Her research focuses on the policy, planning and politics of renewable energy development, particularly the role of public perceptions, community engagement, and landscape impact.  She has been Project Manager for a series of research projects for the Scottish Government and ClimateXChange, the latest of which have explored community investment in commercial energy schemes, and community benefits for offshore renewables.  She is also currently working with Local Energy Scotland on the Good Practice Principles for Community Engagement for onshore wind, and for offshore wind. Claire is currently the co-investigator on an EU Framework 7 project on offshore energy, leading on social acceptance issues.  She works closely with the UK and Scottish Governments, Marine Scotland, the Crown Estate, key stakeholders and policy makers from the Northern Ireland and Danish governments on social responses to renewables, and is the invited expert for the International Energy Agency work on the social acceptance of wind energy. 

Dan van der Horst

Dan van der Horst is a Senior Lecturer in Environment, Energy & Society. Focusing on scarce resources in crowded spaces, his interests include the governance of multifunctionality and shared value, and the tools, practices and politics of resource allocation and conflict management.  Dan has received funding from ESRC, NERC and EPSRC and various EU funds for his research on social entrepreneurs in renewable energy, siting controversies and energy landscapes, the water-energy-food nexus, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation for small scale farmers adopting energy crops. He is currently involved in an EU project on renewable energy and landscape quality and an EPSRC project on the use of serious games in household energy management. He is director of the UK wide research network on Transforming Energy Demand Through Digital Innovation (TEDDINET).

Rachel Howell

Rachel Howell is a Lecturer in Sociology/Sustainable Development in the School of Social and Political Science. Her work focusses on human and social dimensions of climate change and energy use. Major themes include climate change framing and communication; lower-carbon practices/lifestyles; pro-environmental behaviour change; and perceptions of, and responses to, unconventional energy, energy demand reduction technologies and energy/climate change-related policies. Rachel is an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist, interested in insights from many relevant disciplines (e.g. sociology, psychology, human geography, behavioural economics, science and technology studies, and environmental education). Her research employs both qualitative and quantitative methods, often in combination. She teaches on the undergraduate MA in Sustainable Development, and has extensive experience of speaking to non-academic audiences, having been involved in public talks, panel debates, and facilitating workshops on climate change and energy for a variety of groups.

Heather Lovell

Dr Heather Lovell is a Reader in the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh, UK. She has a first degree in geography and has researched and taught social aspects of climate change and energy for the past fifteen years. She has held research positions at Durham and Oxford Universities, the University of Technology (Sydney), and in UK Parliament. Her research to date spans Sociology and Human Geography, and covers two main topics: carbon markets and accounting, and low-energy housing. Her interest is in better understanding contemporary sociotechnical transitions, playing close attention to the policies, practices and politics of change. It furthers our understanding of why and how technology and policy change takes place in response to big environmental problems such as climate change.  She has funded by the UK Research Councils (ESRC, EPSRC), the UK Tyndall Centre, and the Nuffield Foundation. From early 2015 she will be based in Australia, working on an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship project ‘Smart Grids, Messy Communities’

Carly Maynard

Carly Maynard is a post-doctoral research associate studying public interactions with science and energy technologies.  Based in the School of GeoSciences, she is conducting research on perceptions of Carbon Capture and Storage, as well as energy dialogues.  With a background in hydrology, she also has an interest in the dimensions of community energy, specificially small-scale and community-led hydro schemes.

Rasmus Ploug Jenle

Rasmus Ploug Jenle is a visiting researcher at the University of Edinburgh and a PhD Fellow at Copenhagen Business School. His current research follows the introduction and reconfiguration of electricity markets in the effort to resolve the issue of load balance control associated with increasing the proportion of wind power in the Nordic electricity system. Inspired by American pragmatism, the sociology of markets, and science and technology studies, his work traces how markets in various ways have been arranged to serve as control systems for the operation and composition of an electricity system having to accommodate a growing percentage of fluctuating electricity production. He is a member of the CBS Public-Private Platform cluster on Markets & Valuation.

Martin Pullinger

Martin Pullinger is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the School of Informatics. His research focuses on practices, technologies and policies that support transition to more sustainable and resilient economic and socio-technical systems. His work to date has focused on the energy and water systems. His current work on the EPSRC-funded IDEAL project (part of TEDDINET) focuses on increasing our understanding of domestic energy-using practices, the technological, social and policy factors which influence them, and on novel feedback techniques to encourage and support low energy living. He also researches the implications of working patterns on energy demand and carbon emissions, and policy approaches to supporting working time reduction. He is also interested in the role of local-scale, community solutions to the low carbon transition in the energy system. He draws on interdisciplinary theories of social practice, Science and Technology Studies, and policy studies and uses a mix of quantitative 'big data' and qualitative research methods.

David Rudolph

David Rudolph is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Sociology, who specialises in the social and geographical aspects of renewable energy development.  David has published and given conference papers on these topics for several  years, and has just finished editing a special edition of the Scottish Geographical Journal on the relationship between communities and renewable energy. He is currently leading a project funded by ClimateXChange for the Scottish Government on community benefits from offshore energy projects.  He is also research fellow on project investigating the social acceptance of multi-use offshore platforms (funded by the European Commission). Previously he worked as a research fellow on project researching public perceptions of sub-seabed Carbon Capture and Storage (funded by the European Commission). David has also recently completed (with Claire Haggett and Mhairi Aitken) two projects funded by ClimateXChange  on Wind Farms Community Engagement Good Practice Review, and Supporting Community Investment in Commercial Renewable Energy Schemes.

Matthias Schimmel

Matthias Schimmel is an Associate of the Energy and Society Research Group. He holds an MSc in Environmental Sustainability from the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh. Since completing his MSc Matthias has been collaborating with Dr Ronan Bolton and Dr Antti Silvast on research into the political and institutional challenges of integrating European power systems and the development of cross-border interconnectors. 

Simon Shackley

Simon Shackley is lecturer in Climate Policy in the School of GeoSciences where he runs the MSc in Carbon Management. His main research focus is decarbonisation of the energy system, including innovation, policy, institutional change, dialogue and values. He also works on the environmental and social impacts of renewable energy projects.

Antti Silvast

Dr Antti Silvast joins STIS to take up a 3 year postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Scottish Government through ClimateXChange (CXC), Scotland’s national centre of expertise on climate change. The aim of the fellowship is to analyse European energy policy developments in terms of their impacts on (and opportunities for) Scottish and UK energy system transition, including markets and trading, infrastructure and low carbon investment. Antti will work with Ronan Bolton and Mark Winskel, and joins a growing number of energy-engaged STIS researchers. Antti’s Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Helsinki, Finlandfocused on risks in critical electricity infrastructures. He serves as an editor of Science & Technology Studies (the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology), and is the vice coordinator and newsletter editor of the European Sociological Association's (ESA) Disaster, Conflict and Social Crisis Research Network. From 2014 to 2015, he was a postdoctoral research associate in Princeton University, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS), Global Systemic Risk Research Community.

Sam Staddon

Sam Staddon is a Research and Teaching Fellow in the Institute of Geography and the Lived Environment. Her research focuses on the processes, politics and knowledges involved in the participation of people in the conservation of biodiversity and energy. She has a background in ecology and the social sciences. She currently works part time as Coordinator for TEDDINET, a network which supports researchers from multiple disciplines interested in the potential of digital innovation to transform energy demand in domestic and non-domestic environments. She also teaches on postgraduate programmes in environment and development, energy and society, and social science methodologies. Questions she is currently pursuing include the role of social interactions between conservationists and land managers in Scotland, and the relationship between personal and professional experiences of domestic energy efficiency amongst researchers in the UK.

Mags Tingey

Mags Tingey is the Research Officer and admin support for two projects at the Institute of Governance: the Heat and the City project (funded by the RC-UK Energy Programme), and the Local Engagement with Energy Systems project (co-funded by the Energy Technologies Institute and the UK Energy Research Centre). Mags is also a part-time PhD student in Sociology examining the role of local agencies in changing systems and practices of UK energy production, supply and use. As part of the Heat and the City project she has coordinated our survey of householder experiences of heating, and of the newly installed district heating systems in Glasgow and she has been involved in interviewing householders in a small scheme in Edinburgh. Mags also led the data collection for our pilot study on Local Engagement with Energy Systems project building a database holding information on local authority activity in energy systems for all UK local authorities. A short report can be found here and further details on Phase 2 of the project will be posted soon. Mags is the admin support officer for the UK network of vanguard local authorities operating or developing district energy. 

Bregje van Veelen

Bregje van Veelen is an ESRC-funded PhD student in the Institute of Geography. To date her research has primarily focused on the social aspects of community-led renewable energy initiatives. Her PhD research adopts an energy justice perspective in order to study the distribution of opportunities and outcomes associated with the emergence of community energy in Scotland and the Netherlands. As part of a previous research project she has also studied the importance of local social contexts in the development of community energy projects in the Scottish Highlands. More recently she has collaborated with several other members of the research group on a ClimateXChange-funded project examining Community Investment in Commercial Renewable Energy Schemes. She has gained further experience of working with a broad range of audiences on various energy-related themes through earlier employment at the University of Aberdeen and the Scottish Government-funded Home Energy Scotland programme.

Mark Winskel

Mark Winskel is Chancellor's Research Fellow on Energy Innovation, in the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) group, part of the School of Social and Political Science at Edinburgh University. Mark also works for the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and ClimateXChange (Scotland's national centre for expertise on climate change). His research addresses energy technology change, governance and policy. This involves combining together knowledge of technology systems, organisations and institutions, and the wider societal context for energy production, distribution and use. In his past role as UKERC’s national Research Co-ordinator, he initiated, supported and led collaborations between researchers from social sciences, engineering and environmental sciences. He recently led a review of UKERC’s interdisciplinary research achievements which has helped inform Phase 3 UKERC research. He has an interdisciplinary background, with degrees in physical, environmental and social sciences.