How we’re organised

PYGYRG comprises of its members who are defined in two ways: (1) the formal membership list compiled by the RGS-IBG, and (2) the wider email discussion list (PYGYWG@JISCMAIL.AC.UK). ‘Members’ incorporates both groups as many of our most active participants are not formally members of the RGS-IBG.

There are 3 formal officer positions of the research group as defined by the RGS-IBG: the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. The group must have each of these three roles to function as a formal RGS-IBG research group.

In addition there are a number of other roles that the group organises itself, such as Website officer, Postgraduate rep, Librarian, and Dissertation Prize coordinator.

Finally there is a broader Advisory Board that is populated by those who have previously either held formal officer positions in the group or been heavily involved in the group in the past.

Role Name Affiliation Email 
Chair Eveleigh Buck-Matthews  Birmingham City 
Secretary Sam Staddon Edinburgh 
Treasurer   Sonja Marzi Glasgow 
Prize Coordinator Jeremy Auerbach University College Dublin  
Conference Officer  Bruna Ferreira Montuori Royal College of Art 
Inclusivity Officer  Kene OnukwubeIndependent
Early Career Officer  Caitlin Hafferty University of
Postgraduate representative  Si Long ChanNewcastle 
Postgraduate representative  Sylvia  HayesExeter 
Ordinary Member Janet Bowstead Royal Holloway, UOL 
Ordinary Member Levi Gahman Liverpool 
Ordinary Member  Eifiona Lane  Bangor 
Ordinary Member  Neil TurnbullCardiff 
Ordinary Member  Mike Kesby St Andrews
Ordinary Member   Susanne
Ordinary MemberBarbara Brayshay  Royal Holloway,

How decisions are made

We seek to act in a spirit of inclusiveness and participation. Decisions are made in three ways: (1) by participants at the away weekends and AGM, (2) by the core committee, and (3) by the core committee in consultation with the Advisory Board. Only if issues are considered controversial, complex or challenging is the Advisory Board asked for its advice.

Appointment of new officers

This will be agreed by vote at the AGM. Nominations should be submitted to the existing committee in writing one week before the AGM.

Current committee


Eveleigh Buck-Matthews is a Lecturer in Criminology at Birmingham City University. Her research interests revolve around the social and spatial construction of youth communities, particularly relating to music, participatory methods and liminal spaces. Eveleigh’s published work explores recreational drug user narratives. She is a co-investigator on the People and Dancefloors Project, exploring recreational drug use, and is a Director of Trans-States and editor of Monad: Journal of Transformative Practice.


Sam is a feminist political ecologist committed to environmental and social justice. Her research explores the social relations involved in conservation and the politics of environment and development projects and interventions. Sam is currently working through participatory action research with forestry professionals in Nepal to collectively and critically reflect on issues of social justice, in both forestry projects and institutions. Having trained in ecology and worked in conservation around the world for 10 years before returning to academia to complete a PhD, Sam is committed to working in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary ways and to building relationships with practitioners; one example of this is the Edinburgh Environment & Development Network


Sonja is a Lecturer in Research Methods and Inequalities at the University of Glasgow. Before joining the University of Glasgow, she was a fellow at LSE, and she continues to hold a Visiting Fellow position at the Latin America and Caribbean Centre at the LSE. Sonja’s research is interdisciplinary and focuses on gendered urban inequalities in Colombia. Her research draws on feminist, anti racist and post-colonial theories and develops and builds on cutting-edge methods of using audio-visual digital methods (e.g., film and video) to co produce knowledge. Her work centres the voices of conflict-affected women in Colombia and contributes to new understandings about their negotiation of their urban futures. In recognition of her work, Sonja’s research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, The Fritz-Thyssen Foundation and an LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact fund.

Dissertation Officer

Jeremy Auerbach is an Assistant Professor in Geography at University College Dublin. Jeremy is a quantitative methodologist and community-engaged researcher. He works for and with community organizations facing environmental, housing, and transportation injustice. His scholarly research is focused on exposing and evaluating the impacts of racist and neoliberal urban planning and policies on the residents of the city.

Early Career Officer

Caitlin Hafferty is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Environmental Social Science at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford. Her interdisciplinary and participatory research broadly explores the governance and equity dimensions of nature recovery and nature-based solutions. She is particularly interested in effective and meaningful public and stakeholder engagement in environmental decision-making processes. Caitlin recently completed her PhD at the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), which focused on practitioners’ perspectives of effective engagement in the digital age. Caitlin is currently working with the Nature-based Solutions Initiative on a project that explores scaling-up nature-based solutions in the UK. This will lead on to further research as part of the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery.

Postgraduate Representative

Sylvia Hayes is a PhD researcher in Geography at the University of Exeter. A qualitative researcher specialising in visual analysis and ethnographic methodologies, Sylvia’s research focuses on the way that visual news media content is produced, and how the routines and practices of newsrooms impacts the content produced. For her PhD research, Sylvia has conducted an ethnography with one digital climate news organisation (Carbon Brief), being embedded in the organisation on a four-month placement in 2021. Sylvia has published in multiple Geographical journals including Global Environmental Change and The Geographical Journal, and has also been involved in projects investigating climate change protest imagery in news media, and the way that European news outlets visualise heatwave risks.

Ordinary members

Dr Mike Kesby, School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews. An original member and recent chair of the Participatory Geographies Research Group, I have been exploring participatory approaches to research since 2000. Most of my work has been in southern and east Africa and has focused on gender relations, sexual health and most recently, antibiotic resistance. I am interested in both methodological innovation (particularly arts-based approaches like film making) and in theorising participatory action research and its effects/affects. My current projects challenge me to work at the messy interface between disciplines, international consortia, biomedical and social science, the academy, communities, and policy interventions.

Levi Gahman works at the University of Liverpool and remains affiliate faculty with the University of the West Indies’ Institute for Gender & Development Studies and Department of Geography. His broad areas of focus include anticolonial praxis, environmental defence, gender justice, and community health, which coincide with efforts he is engaged in related to democratising knowledge and ensuring that research is relevant/accountable to communities. Levi began his career in the Caribbean-Central America with a focus on radical and emancipatory approaches to development, structural violence, and participatory methods. He now works alongside and writes collectively with autonomous movements, rural landworkers, and grassroots organisers who are struggling for land, dignity, and self-determination. Levi is also author of Land, God, & Guns (ZED Scholar) and Building Better Worlds (Bristol University Press), as well as a former and current, respectively, co-editor of the non-corporate open-access journals ACME (Critical Geographies) and Interface (Social Movements).

Dr Susanne Börner is a postdoctoral Marie Curie Global Fellow in the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham and in the School of Public Health at the Universidade de Sao Paulo. She uses participatory action research to explore young people’s local knowledge and everyday practices related to the food-water-energy nexus, climate change and disaster risk reduction in Brazil. With an interest in applied and impact-oriented research, she aims to identify pathways for integrating youth knowledge into public policies for a sustainable and healthy urban development. Susanne also holds a PhD in Political Sciences from the Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany, with a focus on environmental justice and community participation. Moreover, she has several years of experience in environmental consulting with a focus on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. She has also acted as a project evaluator for development projects in Latin America commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) under the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Neil Turnbull (he/him) is a researcher, tutor and professional Architect based in Cardiff, South Wales. Neil recently submitted his ESRC funded PhD thesis ‘Community action in times of austerity: The case of Community Asset Transfer’ to the School of Geography and Planning at Cardiff University. He has taught at Universities in the UK (Cardiff University) and Chile (Universidad de Chile, Universidad Andres Bello Santiago) and currently works as an Associate Tutor in Housing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Neil’s research connects themes of care, mutualism and solidarity with actual community practices that are involved in creating the built environment. Neil has conducted research with an emphasis on participatory research methods in Chile and the UK.