People at the Centre for Urban Wellbeing

Meet our research team

Dr Jessica Pykett

Dr Jessica Pykett

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Jessica Pykett is a social and political geographer with research interests in governance, knowledge practices, policy innovation and political subjectivities.  Her research has focused on affective and emotional techniques of governance, and the influence of neuroscience and behavioural science on public policy and economic theory. Current work is on the intersections of neuroscience and ...


Dr Laura Kudrna

Dr Laura Kudrna

Research Fellow in Applied Psychology

Institute of Applied Health Research

Laura Kudrna is a Research Fellow in Applied Psychology.

Her main research interests are in applying psychological and behavioural principles to drive health and wellbeing improvements for individuals and communities.


Professor David James

Professor David James

Chair in Modern and Contemporary Literature

Department of English Literature

My research and teaching areas span twentieth- and twenty-first-century writing, with a particular focus on the history and theory of the novel. Most recently, I’ve been working on the politics and poetics of affect in contemporary fiction and life-writing, combining my interests in the history of emotions, disability studies, and narrative medicine.


Dr Joanne M Leach

Dr Joanne M Leach

Research Fellow

Department of Civil Engineering

Joanne’s interests can be found at the intersection of liveability, sustainability and resilience, with an emphasis upon research integration, transdisciplinary working practices and the science of team science. Her research focuses upon the link between the built environment, infrastructure and wellbeing.

Joanne is currently working with The UK Collaboratorium for Research on ...

0121 414 3544/+44 (0) 77 8579 2187

Professor Afroditi Stathi

Professor Afroditi Stathi

Professor of Physical Activity and Community Health
Community Health Lead - Centre of Urban Wellbeing

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

Professor Afroditi Stathi is an expert in the field of the promotion of active and healthy ageing.  She leads a portfolio of international, interdisciplinary research which investigates ways of supporting older people achieving meaningful and lasting lifestyle changes and living healthier and fulfilling lives.

+44 (0)121 415 8489

Dr Koen P.R. Bartels

Dr Koen P.R. Bartels

Senior Lecturer in Public Management

Institute of Local Government Studies

Koen Bartels is Senior Lecturer in Public Management at INLOGOV. His research focuses on relationships between citizens and government in an urban context. His key research interests are public encounters, social and democratic innovation, relationality, practice theory, action research, and interpretive policy analysis. His research has been published in leading international journals, including ...

+44 (0)121 414 8089

Associate Members


The Centre for Urban Wellbeing Advisory Group

The Centre for Urban Wellbeing has an Advisory Group whose role is to:

  • advise on research strategy and prioritisation to benefit members of the wider society and community 
  • support impact generating and knowledge exchange activities to inform policy
  • identify opportunities to extend the impact of the centre beyond the West Midlands region
  • identify new networks and partnerships to enable user involvement in research 

The Advisory Group held its first meeting in March 2021 where we discussed the main urban wellbeing policy challenges facing local communities, established productive ways of working with the University, and set out a clear vision for addressing wellbeing inequalities through place-based and systems-level interventions.

Victoria Boelman, Director of Research, The Young Foundation

John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities, Birmingham City Council

Karen Creavin, Chief Executive of The Active Wellbeing Society

Claire Douglas, Head of Occupational Health and Wellbeing at SCS railways

Paul Fisher, Deputy Director of Public Health at Sandwell Council

Mark Gamble, East Birmingham Inclusive Growth Development manager at Birmingham City Council

James Gleave, Sevenoaks Strategic Planning Manager at Sevenoaks County Council

Mike Goodfellow-Smith, Sustainable Finance Advisor at Birmingham City Council

Andrew Fuller, City Design Manager, Birmingham City Council

Zoe Green, Assistant Director, Cities & Urbanisation, PWC

Rebecca Hadley, Head of Organisational Development, Birmingham Settlement

Conrad Parke, Birmingham Anchor Network Co-ordinator for CLES – the national organisation for local economies

Debbie Pippard, Director of Programmes at Barrow Cadbury Trust

Justin Varney, Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council

Bret Willers, Head of Climate Change & Sustainability at Coventry City Council

Liz Zeidler, Chief Executive of Centre for Thriving Places