Meet the team

Understanding Society is a complex and important study requiring significant investment and expertise, clear scientific leadership and effective operational management.

Scientific Leadership Team

The Scientific Leadership Team is lead by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex, with  additional expertise provided by colleagues at the London School of Economics and the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester.

Dr Tarek Al Baghal

Research Fellow. Topic Champion - Technology

Professor Michaela Benzeval

Director, Understanding Society

Professor Nick Buck

Topic Champion - Income

Dr Jon Burton

Associate Director, Surveys

Professor Andrew Charlwood

Topic Champion - Employment

Dr Kiron Chatterjee

Topic Champion - Transport

Professor Paul Clarke

Professor of Social Statistics. Topic Champion - Statistical Methods

Dr Rory Coulter

Topic Champion - Housing

Professor Thomas Crossley

Associate Director, Science. Topic Champion - Consumption and Expenditure

Dr Paul Fisher

Research Fellow. Topic Champion - Income

Professor Susan Harkness

Associate Director, Policy. Topic Champion - Social Policy

Professor Annette Jäckle

Professor of Survey Methodology, Associate Director, Innovations. Topic Champion - Survey Innovations

Dr Gundi Knies

Research Fellow. Topic Champion - Neighbourhoods

Professor Meena Kumari

Professor of Biological and Social Epidemiology. Topic Champion - Health, Biomarkers and Genetics

Professor Peter Lynn

Professor of Survey Methodology. Topic Champion - Environmental Behaviour and Survey Methods

Dr Nicole Martin

Topic Champion - Politics and Social Attitudes

Dr Alita Nandi

Research Fellow and Training and User Support Lead

Raj Patel

Impact Fellow

John Payne

Associate Director, Data

Dr Brienna Perelli-Harris

Topic Champion - Family

Professor Lucinda Platt

Professor of Social Policy and Sociology, LSE. Topic Champion - Ethnicity and Social Inclusion

Professor Stephen Pudney

Visiting Professor. Topic Champion - Ageing and Social Policy

Dr Birgitta Rabe

Senior Research Fellow. Topic Champion - Education

Professor Ingrid Schoon

Topic Champion - Youth

Understanding Society Team

Dr Tarek Al-BaghalResearch FellowProfile page
Geoff AngelSystems Developer/Team LeaderProfile page
Stephanie AutyUser Support and Training OfficerProfile page
Dr Yanchun BaoResearch FellowProfile page
Dr Magda BorkowskaSenior Research OfficerProfile page
Dr Apostolos DavillasSenior Research OfficerProfile page
Emily DixSurvey OfficerProfile page
Glenn DunnSurvey Data ManagerProfile page
Dr Paul FisherResearch FellowProfile page
Dr Laura FumagalliSenior Research OfficerProfile page
Kelly GoodyearParticipant Liaison OfficerProfile page
Dr Karon GushSenior Research and Content Development OfficerProfile page
Dr Charlotte HamiltonSenior Research and Impact OfficerProfile page
Dr Amanda HughesSenior Research OfficerProfile page
Jane IsmailLibrary and Information OfficerProfile page
Jay JamesProject Assistant and Event Support, and PA to the Director of Understanding SocietyProfile page
Nicole JamesSurvey Data OfficerProfile page
Graham JolliffeResearch Data ManagerProfile page
Dr Olena KaminskaSurvey StatisticianProfile page
Jennifer KellyISER PhD StudentProfile page
Dr Gundi KniesResearch FellowProfile page
Katya KostadintchevaSurvey OfficerProfile page
Colette LoClerical Assistant (Survey)Profile page
Louise MilesDigital Content EditorProfile page
Andreea MoldovanSenior Research Officer (Biomarker)Profile page
Dr Alita NandiResearch Fellow and Training and User Support LeadProfile page
Jonathan NearsWeb DeveloperProfile page
Dr Victoria NolanLongitudinal Studies Project ManagerProfile page
Sarah ParburySurvey OfficerProfile page
Rebecca ParsonsCommunications ManagerProfile page
Dr Violetta ParutisSenior Survey and Instrument Development OfficerProfile page
Raj PatelImpact FellowProfile page
Elaine Prentice-LaneSoftware Applications DeveloperProfile page
Dr Milagros RuizSenior Research Officer (CLOSER)Profile page
Dr Melissa SmartResearch Fellow, Health Research ManagerProfile page
Catherine YuenSurvey Applications ManagerProfile page
Alina Pelikh Senior Research Officer (Policy Unit)Profile page

Scientific Advisory Committee

Professor James BanksUniversity of Manchester and Institute for Fiscal Studies
Professor Michaela BenzevalISER, University of EssexProfile page
Professor Ann BerringtonUniversity of Southampton
Professor Andrew ChesherInstitute for Fiscal Studies
Professor Thomas CrossleyUniversity of Essex - Department of EconomicsProfile page
Professor Edward FieldhouseUniversity of Manchester
Professor Alissa GoodmanInstitute of Education
Professor Kelvyn JonesUniversity of Bristol
Dr Omar KhanRunnymede Trust
Associate Professor Paul SmithUniversity of Southampton
Professor Tracey WarrenUniversity of Nottingham
Professor Tak Wing ChanUniversity College London

Governing Board

The long-term development of Understanding Society is the responsibility of the Governing Board that also ensures the financial resources required for the future of the study are in place. The Governing Board, which is comprised of the funding bodies, as well as internationally recognised academics, has the power to act as the arbitrating authority should there be any major divergence of views over the general development of the study.

David WalkerChair
Professor James BanksUniversity of Manchester
Professor Michaela BenzevalInstitute for Social and Economic ResearchProfile page
Mike DalyDepartment for Work and Pensions
Robert FranceESRC
Professor Vernon GayleUniversity of Edinburgh
Professor Allan HillSouthampton University
Rhian JonesONS
Professor John MathersUniversity of Newcastle
Eileen ReganNorthern Ireland Assembly
Louise RichardsESRC
Professor Sasha RoseneilUniversity of EssexProfile page
Audra RyanESRC

Specialist Advisory Committees

There are a number of Specialist Advisory Committees which provide expert advice on content and data collection methods specific to their specialist domains.

Methodological Advisory Committee

The Methodological Advisory Committee provides the Understanding Society Scientific Leadership Team with advice about all matters regarding methodology and technology.

It is a mechanism for generating regular input from the operational and survey methodological community, particularly into future scientific plans for the Innovation Panel and the agenda for innovation and experimentation in Understanding Society.

Professor Nick AllumUniversity of Essex
Professor Silvia BiffignandiUniversity of Bergamo (It)
Dr Jon BurtonInstitute for Social and Economic ResearchProfile page
Dr Lisa CalderwoodUniversity College London - Institute of Education
Mario CallegaroGoogle
Professor Gabriele B. DurrantUniversity of Southampton
Dr Annette JäckleInstitute for Social and Economic ResearchProfile page
Dr Jouni KuhaLondon School of Economics
Gerry NicolaasIpsos-MORI
Dr Peter LugtigUtrecht University
Dr Joseph SakshaugUniversity of Manchester
Associate Professor Paul SmithUniversity of Southampton
Professor Peter LynnInstitute for Social and Economic ResearchProfile page

Ethnicity Strand Advisory Committee

The Ethnicity Strand Advisory Committee shapes the ethnicity strand of Understanding Society to ensure it meets the needs of the research and user communities concerned with questions of ethnicity, within the constraints of competing demands for questionnaire space.

The work of this committee ranges from helping the ethnicity team engage users and potential users in consultation over questionnaire content to discussing changing research priorities and the dissemination of results.

Dr Omar Khan (Chair)Runnymede Trust
Dr Madhavi BajekalUniversity College London
Tom BuckeHome Office
Professor Simon BurgessUniversity of Bristol
Dr. Jon BurtonInstitute for Social and Economic ResearchProfile page
Helen ConnollyLow Pay Commission
Nick JohnsonBERA
Dr Saffron KarlsenUniversity of Bristol
Sarah MorganCabinet Office
Dr Alita NandiInstitute for Social and Economic ResearchProfile page
Raj PatelInstitute for Social and Economic ResearchProfile page
Professor Ann PhoenixThe Institute of Education
Professor Lucinda PlattLondon School of EconomicsProfile page
Angela Potter-CollinsOffice for National Statistics
Giovanni RazzuReading University
Simon SarkarFinancial Services Authority
Paul TrennellDepartment for Work & Pensions (DWP)
Dr Ayse UskulKent University

Health and Biomarker Advisory Committee

The responsibility of this committee is to contribute to the development of the health and biomarker strand of Understanding Society by ensuring that it meets the needs of the research and user communities. This committee aims to identify optimal measures of physical and mental health and biomarkers, for collection within time constraints for respondents to complete the questionnaire. The committee provides advice and support regarding ethical issues in biomarker and health indicator data collection and engaging users in consultation about questionnaire content.

Professor Michaela BenzevalInstitute for Social and Economic ResearchProfile page
Professor Carol BrayneUniversity of Cambridge
Professor Andrew JonesUniversity of York
Professor Bernard KeavneyUniversity of Manchester
Professor Meena KumariInstitute for Social and Economic ResearchProfile page
Professor Glyn LewisUniversity College London
Professor Stephen StansfeldQueen Mary University of London
Professor Dieter WolkeUniversity of Warwick
Dr Eleftheria ZegginiWellcome Trust Sanger Institute
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