Our people

Research Team

Professor Emma Frew, Principle Investigator

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Professor Emma Frew

Nafsika Afentou, Research Associate

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Nafsika Afentou

Dr Hamideh Mohtashami Borzadaran, Research Fellow

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Hamideh Mohtashami Borzadaran

Dr Irina Pokhilenko, Research Fellow

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Irina Pokhilenko

Dr Lin Fu, Research Fellow

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Lin Fu

Doctoral Researchers

Dr Bassit Malik, PhD student (NIHR SPHR-funded)

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Bassit Malik

Ms Humera Sultan, (NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellow) 

Humera Sultan

Bethany Parkes 

The title of Bethany's PhD is 'Are healthy diets really more expensive than unhealthy diets? Understanding drivers of choice between healthy and unhealthy food and drinks.' This is an NIHR SPHR PhD studentship and she is based at the University of Exeter. Professor Emma Frew is one of her supervisors alongside Professor Richard Smith, Professor Antonieta Medina-Lara (University of Exeter) and Dr Laura Cornelsen (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine).

Bethany's PhD seeks to explore the affordability of healthy and unhealthy diets as a whole and to understand the extent to which price is a key driver of food choice. She is currently undertaking an overview of reviews on drivers of food choice which will contrast and compare drivers of healthy and unhealthy, food choices.

Bethany Parkes

Public Advisory Group

Introducing our Public Advisory Group

Our Public Advisory Group are crucial to the Centre.  Together we are an active partnership and our PAG group members provide: 

  • a valuable understanding of the local communities that we are working within.
  • local knowledge where text knowledge can leave gaps!
  • experience of living and working within our research settings.
  • skills from other parts of their lives that are valuable to the research.

Ms Josephine Conneh

Josephine is a highly motivated and enthusiastic Public Health Nutrition graduate with a passion for promoting health and wellbeing and has considerable experience working in health improvement roles. Josephine has experience in the health sector which involves providing support to community-based projects, this has given her the ability to network and engage with the public whilst also improving her knowledge. Josephine’s goal for the role of public advisory group member is to provide optimum research support and insight.  She is currently supporting the development and coordination of health programmes and engages directly with patients in primary care. Josephine is keen to use this opportunity to make significant impact on public health through research.    

Josephine Conneh

Mr Chris Rance

Chris has a community interest in urban parks (as a founder member of a Friends group for two parks in the Selly Oak/Selly Park area) and professionally as a landscape architect involved over the years in many projects relating to green spaces, the street scene and general greening of the built environment. During 2021 Chris participated in a series of workshops as a ‘green champion’ working with the Birmingham Future Parks Accelerator team. He is a Technical Director (Landscape) at a major consultancy, with his role specifically focused on technical reviewing of reports and drawings to ensure their quality, clarity, consistency, and accuracy.

Chris Rance

Ms Eva Bennett

Eva currently devises and runs creative Arts projects which have a social purpose, working collaboratively in inner city community settings. Much of her recent work has centred around an urban green/blue space which is relied upon by a range of local communities. As a space under threat of redevelopment, she has been working with other community members to try and quantify the benefits it provides to user groups, to provide a platform to amplify the local voices from within the community, and to be a point of contact with the Local Authority.

Eve Bennett

Stakeholder Advisory Group

Our stakeholder advisory group meet once a year to provide expert advice to the development and conduct of each of our workstreams to enable us to achieve maximum impact from a public, academic and policy perspective.  Each stakeholder represents a different perspective relevant to the wider determinants of obesity.

  • Professor Brian Ferguson, Director of NIHR Public Health Research programme
  • Mr Chris McEwan,  Local Authority Councillor Darlington. Darlington Primary Care Network  Lay Member. Member of Obesity Policy Engagement Network
  • Professor Petra Meier, Consortium Director of Systems science in Public Health and Health Economics Research (SIPHER), University of Glasgow.
  • Dr John Williams, Managing Director, Birmingham Health Partners
  • Ms Anna Taylor, Executive Director, The Food Foundation
  • Dr Magdalena Skrybant, Applied Research Collaboration Public Involvement Lead
  • Mr Mubasshir Aljaz, Head of Wellbeing and Prevention, West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Mr Russell Turner, Strategic Lead local Delivery, Sport England.

economics of obesity group pictureThe advisory group had its first annual meeting on 12th May 2022 at The Exchange, Birmingham.

Research Partners

  • Birmingham City Council
  • Coventry City Council
  • Lidl GB
  • Canal and River Trust
  • Future Parks Accelerator programme
  • University of Sydney