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Chair in Urban Natural Environments, Health and Wellbeing, University of Sheffield

My research interests focus around the ways in which different people experience, interact with, understand and represent landscape, and especially wild or natural-looking vegetation; and the desire to see a more holistic and environmentally friendly approach to planning and designing urban greenspace and green structure.

My aim is often to challenge professional ideas about what might be publicly acceptable, and to test/explore established theoretical frameworks from different academic disciplines that are relevant to my field of enquiry (such as environmental psychology, social anthropology and cultural geography).

Alongside my role as researcher I am a Professor and Head of Department.

Like a large number of people involved in the discipline and practice of Landscape Architecture I converted to Landscape as a mature student, and have brought a range of different skills and understandings to my teaching and research practice.

I studied English Literature for my first degree at Cambridge University, reflecting my interest in creative, intuitive and fictionalised ways of understanding and representing the world. On completing my undergraduate degree I was attracted to the legal profession as a means of participating in political and social justice, taking a conversion course in Law and qualifying as a solicitor in 1984.

I practised for 13 years until 1987, gaining experience of criminal, family, industrial, employment and personal injury law in a South Yorkshire Legal Aid practice. I became a partner in the practice but by the late 1980´s I had become keen to develop my creative abilities and my interest in social equity in a different arena.

Throughout my life I have been privileged to enjoy a close relationship with a number of particular landscapes, most notably a suburban brownfield site, a royal park, my grandmother´s allotment in Copenhagen, a Danish rural/coastal landscape and the Pennine Peak District.

Eager to develop this relationship I took the MA/Dip in Landscape Design at Sheffield. During the MA I was successful in obtaining temporary employment in public arts administration, working for Public Arts in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

On completion of the MA I was torn between a desire to practise Landscape Architecture and the possibility of continuing to study. The award of an Economic and Social Research Council studentship to undertake PhD research in the Department convinced me that this was the appropriate way forward.

After 2 years PhD study I successfully applied for the position of Lecturer in the Department, and have held this full-time, permanent post since 2001.

My career to date has therefore provided me with a combination of creative, analytical and research skills and interests, which continue to inform my approaches to teaching and research.


  • –present
    Chair in Urban Natural Environments, Health and Wellbeing, University of Sheffield