Hazel is a human geographer who undertook her degree at the University of Sussex in the School of African and Asian Studies. She then moved to the University of Birmingham to undertake her MA and PhD in West African Studies. Her main areas of research are the socioeconomic aspects of development, in particular gender, health and rural development in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last decade her research has been directed at the social and economic aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and The Gambia as well as amongst migrant groups in the UK.
More recently her research has focussed on the traditional harmful practice of FGM in Africa and amongst the African diaspora in the EU. She is an internationally recognised expert on FGM. She is a specialist on participatory action methods and community-based participatory research and has published a number of referred papers on this methodology.
She has published books and chapters on health and development issues and has over 40 referred articles to her name. In 1998 she was promoted to Reader in Development Geography and in 2006 she was conferred a Chair in Development Geography. She has been Associate Dean for Applied Research in the Faculty of Business, Environment and Society since 2010. She is President of the Geographical Association (2013-14).