Former Group Members

Dr Mondira Bhattacharya

Mondira joined the group as Postdoctoral researcher in January 2021 working on the Robot Highways project. She started working at the University of Reading in March 2020 as PDRA on a study focusing on food security and health among rural adolescents in India and Nepal. Prior to that she worked as Assistant Professor at the Council for Social Development (CSD) in New Delhi, India. She has also worked at the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and Institute of Economic Growth (IEG), New Delhi in various capacities. Her interests are in agrarian studies with focus on India and other low- and medium- income countries. She has worked on various issues related to rural development and policy implications on the concerned farmer segment. She moved to another project in January 2022 within APD at the University of Reading.

Dr Paul Hurley
Dr Paul Hurley is a cultural geographer who joined the group as a postdoctoral researcher (0.2) on the Farming Resilience project. Paul has an interdisciplinary background, with an MA in Fine Art from Cardiff School of Art and Design and a PhD in Drama from University of Bristol, and a number of years postdoctoral research in geography and environmental science. He is interested in combining conceptual and empirical enquiry through qualitative, participatory and creative methods, and in more-than-human worlds in the contexts of ecology, community and ethics. Alongside work at Reading, Paul is involved in research projects about so-called ‘harder-to-reach’ farmers, about the Christian ethics of farmed animal welfare, about human-viral interactions and imaginaries, and about the politics of human and nonhuman migration.


Jess Lyon
Jess joined the group in September 2020 as a Research Assistant researching the responsible innovation of autonomous robots for the Robot Highways project. She has a BSc in Biology from University of Sheffield and an MSc in Climate Change: Environment, Science and Policy from King’s College London. She is now working at the University of Sheffield as a Research Assistant for Dr Ruth Little, to assist Defra on the co-design and development of the Environmental Land Management scheme. Jess has maintained her links with the University of Reading and works alongside Dr David Christian Rose as well as Dr Ruth Little in a research team examining engagement with harder to reach stakeholders for the co-design and development of UK agricultural policy. Her research interests include a variety of environmental and conservation-based subjects, specifically those that focus on linking scientific theory and evidence  to policy and management.


Dr Faye Shortland
Dr Faye Shortland is a human geographer who joined the group as a Postdoctoral Researcher in March 2021 working on the Farming Resilience project. Prior to this, she worked at the University of Birmingham as a Research Assistant on a DEFRA funded project regarding the agricultural transition period, joint with Fera Science Ltd. Faye has a BSc (Hons) in Geography from the University of Birmingham and following this undertook a MA in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at Durham University. Her AHRC funded PhD brought together geographical, anthropological, and heritage theories and methods to gain a deeper understanding of the management of the Lake District National Park and World Heritage Site. She worked with both the Lake District National Park Partnership and the farming community. Her academic interests include the management of cultural landscapes, rewilding, farmer decision-making, and farmers’ mental health.


Dr Rachel Smith
Rachel is an experimental psychologist who has joined the group as a Research Assistant between January-March 2021 on a farmer behaviour change project for Defra. She received a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Liverpool and was awarded with the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Student Research Assistantship Scheme. She then obtained her PhD on the implicit and explicit effects of unhealthy food marketing, with a public health perspective, from the University of Wollongong, Australia. She most recently undertook a Post-Doc position at the University of Reading to conduct quantitative consumer studies for EIT Food. Her academic interests include consumer behaviour, nutrition and new product development. She is now working on projects in FNS at the University of Reading.


Dr Catherine Price
Dr Catherine Price is a sociologist who joined the group as a Research Assistant in January 2021 to work on a project with BEIS on the UK agri-tech landscape followed by a project for the Centre for Effective Innovation in Agriculture. She received a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science and an MSc in Science Communication and Environmental Decision Making from the Open University. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Warwick. She has held post-doctoral positions at the University of Warwick and the UEA. Her research interests include agricultural technology adoption, the social and ethical impacts of agricultural technologies, relationships between humans and the more-than-human world, and the environment. She is now working at the University of Nottingham with Dr Carol Morris and Professor Paul Wilson. 

Anna Barkemeyer
Barkemeyer works as a policy advisor in BEIS and was a part-time PhD student supervised by David Rose and Dr Ollie Douglas at the Museum for English Rural Life. She completed a B.A. and M.Sc. in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge specialising in the History and Philosophy of Science. Her research drew on archival material and objects in the MERL collections to explore histories of agricultural innovation processes in the second half of the twentieth century. Anna decided to suspend her studies to focus on her career in the civil service. She contributed historical insights to a joint academic paper on everyday encounters with farm technology.