Who are we? Between 2016 and 2019, 13 people have been part of the core team for Realising Just Cities UK: 

Ryan Bellinson, PhD Student

Ryan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. His research focuses on innovative urban governance models that may be used to develop socially just and scientifically robust climate change policy. Ryan led an environmental governance project, investigating coproductive policy development in Greater Manchester, UK.

Prior to joining the Realising Just Cities programme, Ryan earned a B.SC. in environmental studies from the University of Oregon (2015), and an M.Sc. in urban studies from the University of Amsterdam (2017). Ryan has also worked as a constituent affairs intern for United States Senator Jeff Merkley and was a land use planning and air toxins policy fellow in the State of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s Natural Resource Policy Office.


Kristina Diprose, Research Associate

Kristina worked as a Research Associate at the Urban Institute. Her projects within the Realising Just Cities research programme focused on what 'just' sustainability means for Sheffield and local implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Other recent research and publications have focussed on: urban residents' views on intergenerational justice, consumption and sustainability; media representations of sustainability; local narratives and moral geographies of climate change; and intergenerational community-based research.


Dr Victoria Habermehl, Research Associate

Victoria joined the team in 2017 as a Research Associate in the Urban Institute, working on the projects Whose Knowledge matters? (primary funder: ESRC) and Whose Heritage matters (with British Academy funding). Her previous research focused on Latin American Cities, including how the economy is understood and reshaped through crisis, narratives of economic informality and everyday economic practices such as economic solidarity initiatives, autogestion and popular economy.


Dr Iona Hine, Research Impact Office for Jam and Justice

Iona joined the Urban Institute in July 2018 as Research Impact Officer for Jam & Justice, and then for Realising Just Cities more broadly. She has been based at the University of Sheffield since 2009, having previously studied at Roehampton (PGCE Secondary, 2007), Anglia Ruskin (MA Jewish-Christian Relations, 2003) and Cambridge (BA Hons, 2001). In recent years, Iona has worked in the University of Sheffield's Digital Humanities Institute, on a range of projects: modelling changes in words and meaning in early modern English with Linguistic DNA, surveying social sciences publications for Ways of Being in a Digital Age, quantifying data from YouTube comments for Militarization 2.0, and analysing court records for Intoxicants and Early Modernity.


Dr Sophie King, Research Fellow

As a Research Fellow at the Urban Institute, Sophie has been Sheffield-Manchester Local Interaction Platform Coordinator. In this role Sophie has helped to coordinate the programme of work and the design, delivery and evaluation of co-production projects in Greater Manchester. Sophie’s research has focused on community-led organising in and between low-income neighbourhoods in the UK, and on working with neighbourhood-based groups in Greater Manchester to learn from urban social movements in the Global South. She has led projects on community-led housing alternatives and savings.


Professor Tim May, Director of Research

Tim is Professor of Social Scientific Methodology at the Sheffield Methods Institute. He has been the international methodological advisor to the Sheffield-Manchester Local Interaction Platform, working on the role of boundary agents and the circulation of knowledge and decision-making in research practice. His interests lie in interdisciplinary working; collaboration with non-academic partners; policy-related research; management and organizational change; methodological innovation; reflexivity in social research and social life; philosophy of social science and social and political theory. He has written widely in these areas and also worked with many organisations in the public and private sectors.


Alexandra McVicar-Payling, PhD Student

Alexandra’s PhD is exploring the limits and possibilities of universities as agents of change in realizing just cities. She is now focused on university knowledge production in relation to to social justice, with a focus on economic strategic planning and gender in the north of England. 


Jenny Patient, PhD Student

Jenny’s PhD research (begun in 2017) engages trade unions around climate change. Making connections through the fringe programme around COP21 in Paris led to conversations with trade unions in energy-intensive industries, such as steel, glass and cement, that underpin the cities of Leeds, Hull and Sheffield. Working with the Trades Union Congress's Just Transitions team, Jenny seeks to develop knowledge that can help trade unions play their full role towards an energy transition that brings both sustainability and justice. 


Professor Beth Perry, Professorial Fellow

Beth is a Professorial Fellow and Co-Director of the Urban Institute. As Director of the Sheffield Manchester Local Interaction Platform, Beth also represented the UK on the Mistra Urban Futures International Board. Her research focuses on urban governance, transformation and the roles of universities, with an emphasis on socio-environmental and socio-cultural transitions.


Dr Bertie Russell, Research Associate

As a Research Associate in the Urban Institute, Bertie worked on the ESRC Jam & Justice project and the international MistraUrban Futures study of participatory cities. His research interests are in participatory and deliberative democracy; utopianism and directional demands; the dismantling of post-politics; the organisation of the commons and post-capitalist transition; and the rise of new forms of urban internationalism.


Dr Vicky Simpson, Research Programme Coordinator

As Research Programme Coordinator for the Sheffield-Manchester Local Interaction Platform on behalf of Mistra Urban Futures, Vicky works at the Urban Institute. Drawing on her research background, she coordinates support across a portfolio of UK and EU research grants at the Urban Institute. 


Charlie Spring, Research Associate 

As a Research Associate at the Urban Institute, Charlie has contributed to projects including Self-organising Action for Food Equity, building on connections in Sheffield and Manchester. She has previously alternated between academic and non-academic roles, including for the University of Salford’s Environmental Sustainability Team, campaign organisation ATD Fourth World and immigrant rights association AMSED in Strasbourg. Before moving to Manchester, her Masters studies in Sustainable Development Advocacy focussed on thinking critically about ‘corporate social responsibility’ (and cider sustainability!). Her BA in Social Anthropology at Cambridge introduced her to critical development theory, which she has applied to her academic and practical roles since. Charlie has also co-chaired the ‘Measuring and Monitoring’ sub-group of the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance and co-edited a Handbook of Food Waste


Dr Nick Taylor Buck, Research Fellow

Nick was a Research Fellow at the Urban Institute and a Sheffield-Manchester Local Interaction Platform Coordinator, leading the Self-Organising Action for Food Equity (SAFE) and Sustainable Development Goals projects. In this role he helped to coordinate the programme of work and the design, delivery and evaluation of co-production projects across two city-regions in the North of England. His research interests span urban ecology, food systems and co-production, including urban innovation processes and demonstrators. He has a PhD in the natural sciences, supporting collaborative research and publications between the faculties of Social Science, Science and Engineering. A qualified Chartered Surveyor with substantial real estate practice experience, specialising in sustainable design and assessment, Nick has sat on several urban design advisory panels.