People: Meet the Team

Professor Karen Henwood

I am a Professor in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences where I have worked since 2006. My substantive research interests are in identity and risk, and I seek to understand how people live with socio-cultural and environmental change. I have a longstanding track record of reflecting on social research methodologies and methods as means of fostering inquiry into the complex meanings and dynamics of people’s everyday lives, and for exploring social, cultural and psychological change.

Since 2007, I have been a Principal Investigator (PI) on the Timescapes network; in addition I have led the Men as Fathers project within that network. My involvement in Timescapes has made qualitative longitudinal/temporal methods of inquiry a key part of my methodological portfolio. My research is often conducted within collaborative networks, interdisciplinary teams and multi-method groupings. From 2003-2008 I jointly led (with Nick Pidgeon & Peter Simmons) the “living with nuclear risk” project as part of the ESRC’s Social Contexts and Responses to Risk or SCARR network.

I am affiliated to Cardiff University’s Centre for Understanding Risk and Sustainable Places Research Institute. My future plans include fostering the role of families and relationships researchers in sustainability science. people/academicstaff/G-H/professor-karen-henwood-overview.html

Professor Karen Henwood

Telephone: 029 20874678


Professor Nick Pidgeon

I am Professor of Environmental Psychology and Director of the Understanding Risk Research Group within Cardiff University. I work on risk, risk perception, and risk communication and as such my research is interdisciplinary at the interface of social psychology, environmental sciences, and science and technology studies.

I am currently researching public responses to energy system change and energy technologies (e.g. nuclear power, renewable energy), climate change risks, and climate geoengineering. I have in the past led numerous policy oriented projects on issues of public responses to environmental risk issues and on ‘science in society’ for UK Government Departments, the Research Councils, the Royal Society, and Charities.

I am currently a member of the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change’s Science Advisory Group (SAG), and theme leader for the Climate Change Consortium for Wales. andpeople/academics/pidgeon.html

Professor Nick Pidgeon

Telephone: 029 20874567


Dr Fiona Shirani

I am a Research Associate in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. I have been involved in research projects related to fatherhood, health, fertility and work-based training, and have been part of the qualitative longitudinal Timescapes network. My research interests include family relationships, life course transitions and the impact these have on people’s perceptions of their futures. In light of my PhD and Timescapes study work, I am keen to foreground the importance of temporal research for the exploration of participants’ dynamic lived experiences, which is being taken forward in Energy Biographies. andpeople/academicstaff/Q-S/ dr-fiona-shirani-overview.html

Fiona Shirani

Telephone: 02920 876520


Dr Chris Groves

I am a research fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff. With a background in philosophy and sociology, my research interests focus on how people and institutions negotiate and deal with an intrinsically uncertain future – one that is increasingly imagined against the backdrop of global environmental change and accelerating technological innovation. Along with the ethical and political implications of a range of future-oriented discourses and practices (e.g. risk management, precautionary regulation, building resilience), my work has examined how our ideas about what it means for individuals and whole societies to take responsibility for their futures change alongside technological transformation. From nanotechnology and personalised genetic testing, to the decarbonisation agenda examined by Energy Biographies and now Flexis, the moral aspects of everyday life and of public policy are shifting alongside efforts to plan and remodel the social and natural worlds. These efforts are shaped by images of more efficiently managed, better governed, ‘smarter’ futures in which people increasingly take more responsibility for a whole range of different aspects of their lives. Building links between qualitative social science and normative ethics can help understand both how technologies and values change alongside each other, and what is really at stake in these imagined futures.

My recent monograph Care, Uncertainty and Intergenerational Ethics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and the earlier Future Matters: Action, Knowledge, Ethics (Brill, 2007), co-authored with Professor Barbara Adam (Social Science, Cardiff University), examines these themes in depth, along with a variety of other recent publications.



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Dr Erin Roberts

PhD Student

PhD title: Reducing Energy Consumption in Everyday Life: A study of landscapes of energy consumption in rural households and communities in North Wales

I’m a first year ESRC funded PhD Student in SOCSI, using qualitative methods to examine landscapes of energy consumption in rural households and communities in North Wales. I am particularly interested in how identity, place, perceptions and practices combine to create specific landscapes of energy consumption, and how this may persist or change generationally.

My PhD is linked to the work of the Energy Biography’s team. I am supervised by Professor Henwood (in SOCSI) and Professor Pidgeon (in PSYCH). Dr Karen Parkhill is an additional member of my supervisory team. My PhD is sponsored by the Welsh Government (Climate Change and Water Division) and Cardiff University’s Sustainable Places Institute. As I am a Welsh speaker, and I will be conducting my fieldwork in North Wales, information about my research will be available in both Welsh and English.

Rwyf yn fyfyriwr PhD yn y Gwyddorau Cymdeithasol, sydd yn fy mlwyddyn cyntaf. Rwyf yn cael fy ariannu gan yr Cyngor Ymchwil Economaidd a Chymdeithasol (ESRC). Rwyf yn defnyddio dulliau ansoddol i ymchwilio ‘tirweddau defnyddio ynni’ mewn cartrefi a chymunedau gwledig yng Ngogledd Cymru. Mae gennyf ddiddordeb arbennig yn sut mae hunaniaeth, lle, canfyddiadau ac arferion yn cyfuno i greu tirluniau penodol o ddefnydd ynni a sut y gall rhain barhau neu newid dros amser a chenedlaethau.

Mae fy PhD yn gysylltiedig â gwaith tîm Bywgraffiadau Ynni. Fy ngorychwylwyr yw’r Athro Karen Henwood (SOCSI) a’r Athro Nick Pidgeon (PSYCH), gyda Dr Karen Parkhill fel aelod ychwanegol o fy nhîm arolygu. Noddir fy PhD gan Lywodraeth Cymru (Is adran Newid yn yr Hinsawdd a Dŵr) a Sefydliad Lleoedd Cynaliadwy Prifysgol Caerdydd. Gan fy mod yn siarad Cymraeg, ac yn cynnal fy ngwaith maes yng Ngogledd Cymru, fydd gwybodaeth am fy ngwaith ar gael yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg.

Erin Roberts

Linked PhD Students

Alice Dal Gobbo

Postgraduate student (1+3 programme)

Title of current research project: “Enjoy! (Responsibly) – A Psychoanalytically Informed Critique of Neoliberal Discourses of Environmental Sustainability”

I am a Masters student enrolled in a 1+3 programme funded by the ESRC. I am based in the Cardiff University School of Social Sciences and supervised by prof. Karen Henwood and prof. Bella Dicks.

I am interested in investigating, primarily through qualitative research, the ways in which environmental issues are framed and constructed by public discourses. I look at how “sustainability” and related concepts (such as “sustainable development”) hide the existing contradictions between the capitalist system and the need to preserve the environment in order to maintain current patterns of production and consumption. I also aim to explore what perspectives for deep social and political change global warming and climate change open up.

My Msc Dissertation will consist of a psychoanalytically informed type of Discourse Analysis of policy documents targeting energy demand reduction. In my PhD I hope to be able to consider, through narrative interviews and multimodal data, how people’s everyday energy practices but also cultural understandings of consumption have changed as a consequence of the economic crisis and what are the consequences of these changes. I engage with both Sociological and Psychoanalytic theory and methods and hope to be able to engage in an interdisciplinary way with a range of research techniques drawn from across the Social Sciences.



Former PhD Students

Sam Hubble

PhD title: Understanding the Dynamics of Domestic Electricity Supply, Consumption and Demand Reduction 

I’m a first year PhD Student based in the school of Psychology, using qualitative methods to examine how people relate to and understand their electricity supply. I am interested in probing these ideas to attempt to understand how these could impact proposed future changes in electricity supply networks, with the ultimate aims of fostering smooth transitions to new technologies and reducing domestic electricity consumption and demand.

My PhD project is linked to the EPSRC ‘Top and Tail’ Grand Challenge Network and part of my research is closely related to concepts and methodologies being developed by the Energy Biographies team. I am supervised by Professor Nick Pidgeon (PSYCH) and Professor Karen Henwood (SOCSI). My PhD is funded through a three-year studentship provided by the EPSRC. andpeople/pgs/hubble.html

Sam Hubble


Catherine Cherry

PhD title: Decarbonisation of the home: how is it framed and understood by policy-makers and the public?

Reducing carbon emissions from within the home will be particularly important if government targets for an 80% reduction in national carbon emissions by 2050 are to be reached. My research uses qualitative research methods to gain an insight into how the issues surrounding decarbonisation within the home are framed, communicated and understood by both policy-makers, the media and the public. Through assessment of policy, media and public discourses, this work hopes to gain an insight into the implications for the significant policy problems surrounding encouraging and achieving emissions reductions at the household level.

I am a first year student, based in the School of Psychology and affiliated with the Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACE). I am supervised by Prof. Nick Pidgeon (PSYCH), Dr. Christina Hopfe (ENGIN) and Dr. Brian MacGillivray (PLACE) and my PhD is jointly funded through the School of Psychology and the School of Engineering. andpeople/pgs/cherry.html

Catherine Cherry


Luba Pirgova

PhD title: Electricity Supply, Consumption and Demand Reduction: Visual Culture and Corporate World

I am a first year PhD student based in Psychology, supervised in the School of Psychology by Prof. Nick Pidgeon and in the School of Social Sciences by Prof. Karen Henwood. The focus of the project is, if possible, to analyse primary images of electricity used at home and to interpret them as a part of in-home or of outside home communication as evident during times of turmoil such as the ones caused by natural or man-made disasters. There will also be a presentation and analysis of secondary images of electricity as could be obtained from academic literature, narratives (both interviews based and published in the media), or other depictions of electricity where objects or stories have become iconic symbols of electricity.

As my project will transcend the boundaries of the social science and humanities disciplines and will include other academic literature published in biology and physics, the project will use purposeful extreme case sampling over time methodology, where each sample is selected to fit a different need and to provide further information. With this I hope to understand in a more holistic manner what kind of images represent electricity and how; how are these images communicated between electricity companies/corporations and the people, and what could those images tell us about social understanding and social action with regard to electrical consumption. The project is funded by both the ESRC and the EPSRC and it is linked to the Understanding Risk group in Cardiff University.

Luba Pirgova Picture


Former Project Staff

Dr Karen Parkhill

Dr Parkhill can be contacted at her new institution:

Dr Catherine Butler

Dr Butler can be contacted at her new institution: