PhD Students

I supervise PhD students across several different departments (Geography, Computer Science, Politics, Psychology) and two universities (Exeter, Bath) – a reflection both of the interlinked and interdisciplinary work we do on climate change communication and of the UK PhD funding landscape. All students based in the Geography department at Exeter University are part of the large, active and friendly Environment & Sustainability Research Group.

Working with PhD students really is one of the best parts of my job. I’ve been proud to see my students publish their first (and subsequent!) papers, submit their PhD theses, engage with policy and practitioner debates, and continue into diverse and rewarding careers in the social science dimensions of sustainability. The following is a list of my PhD students, who I consider myself fortunate to (have) work(ed) with:

I work with the following PhD researchers as lead supervisor:

Oliver Blewett: QUEX award, 2023-2026, Geography, University of Exeter. Ollie’s PhD is funded through the QUEX Global Environmental Futures theme. His PhD is titled: ‘Picturing climate migration: critiquing the visual discourse’. Saffron is lead supervisor, with Roland Bleiker, School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland as co-supervisor; and Ricardo Safra de Campos (uoE) and Karen McNamara (UQ) also on the supervisory panel.

Veronica White: ESRC 1+3 award, 2022-present, Geography, University of Exeter. Veronica’s PhD is funded through the SWDTP Sustainable Futures pathway. Her PhD is titled: ‘Visualising future food: imaginaries of UK food system transformation’. Saffron is lead supervisor, with Julie Barnett, Psychology, University of Bath and Angela Cassidy, Politics, Exeter, as co-supervisors. Veronica tweets @Veronicaa_White.

Kate Holden: CCMI / UoE funded, 2020-present, Geography, University of Exeter. Kate’s PhD is co-funded through an industry award with the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI). Kate’s PhD title is ‘Becoming an ‘ocean steward’: Youth engagement with marine sustainability in the digital age’. Saffron is lead supervisor, with Louisa Evans, Geography, Exeter, as co-supervisor. Kate tweets @KateHol48398566.

Sylvia Hayes: ESRC 1+3 award, 2019-present, Geography, University of Exeter. Sylvia’s PhD is funded through the SWDTP Sustainable Futures pathway. Her PhD is titled: ‘Making the news: Constructing climate change in an online world’. Saffron is lead supervisor, with Lorraine Whitmarsh, Psychology, University of Bath / Director of the CAST Centre; and Catherine Butler, Geography, Exeter, as co-supervisors. Sylvia tweets @sylviahayes98.

I work with the following PhD researchers as co-supervisor:

Ranadheer Malla: ESRC 1+3 award, 2021-present, Politics, University of Exeter. Ranu’s PhD is funded through the SWDTP Advanced Quantitative Methods pathway. His PhD will examine the utility of active learning, weak supervision and human-centred AI for the study of climate communication. Ranu’s research will explore climate communication in online media, including through text, images and audiovisual data. Ranu is lead-supervised by Travis Coan, Politics, University of Exeter, with Saffron as co-supervisor.


Polly Gregson: ESRC 1+3 award, 2022-present, Geography, University of Exeter. Polly’s PhD is funded through the SWDTP Geography pathway. Her PhD is titled: ‘Word in edgeways: a creative pluralisation of climate change narratives’. Polly was previously at the Eden Project as Creative Research Developer, and Eden are a partner in her PhD research. Polly is lead-supervised by Caitlin DeSilvey, with Saffron as co-supervisor.

Hannah Hayes: ESRC 1+3 award, 2020-present, Geography, University of Exeter. Hannah previously worked at the Environment Agency, so she brings a wealth of experience to her academic programme. Hannah’s PhD project is provisionally titled: ‘Stronger together: the role of community resilience at a collective scale in managing flooding and coastal erosion risk’. Hannah is lead-supervised by Neil Adger, with Saffron and Julie Barnett, Psychology, University of Bath, as co-supervisors.

Ned Westwood: UKRI Environmental Intelligence CDT award, 2019-present, Politics, University of Exeter. Ned’s PhD is funded through the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Environmental Intelligence (EI CDT) . His PhD examines how political actors influence climate discourse by strategically using language and imagery, with a particular focus on digital advocacy organisations and networked micro-celebrities. Ned is joint lead-supervised by Travis Coan, Politics, University of Exeter and Hywel Williams, Computer Science, University of Exeter; with Saffron as co-supervisor.

Kathie Treen: CEMPS/UoE funded, 2018-present, Computer Science, University of Exeter. Kathie’s PhD title is ‘Online (mis)information and climate change: Using network analysis and machine learning to understand the debate’. Kathie is lead-supervised by Hywel Williams, Computer Science, University of Exeter; with Saffron as co-supervisor. Kathie tweets @KathieTreen.

Annayah Prosser: ESRC 1+3 award, 2018-present, Psychology, University of Bath. Annayah is funded through the SWDTP Sustainable Futures PhD pathway. Her PhD is titled ‘“Identity to Action and Back Again”: Exploring the Enabling and Inhibiting Role of ‘Moralised Minority Practice Identities’ for Societal Transformations towards more Sustainable Futures’. Annayah is lead-supervised by Tim Kurz, Psychology, UWA; with Saffron as part of an international panel of four co-supervisors. Annayah tweets @annayahprosser.

I lead/co-supervised the following students, who have all successfully completed their PhDs:

Dr Chris Manktelow: ESRC 1+3 award, 2016-2021, Geography, University of Exeter. Chris was funded through the SWDTP Human Geography PhD pathway. His PhD topic was: ‘Following the Forecast: Risk, Uncertainty and the Life of Seasonal Weather Forecasts’ and involved in-depth ethnographic work at the UK Met Office. Saffron and Karen Bickerstaff, Geography, University of Exeter were joint lead supervisors; with Rich Betts, Met Office and Geography, University of Exeter as co-supervisor. Chris tweets @chrismanktelow3.

Dr Katherine Lee: ESRC +3 award, 2017-2021, Psychology, University of Bath. Kath’s PhD topic was: ‘Adolescents’ Representations of Climate Change’. Kath’s PhD was funded through the SWDTP Sustainable Futures PhD route. She was lead-supervised by Julie Barnett, Psychology, University of Bath; with Saffron as co-supervisor. Kath tweets @dktee. Kath is currently working as a post-doc at the University of Bath.

Dr Niall McLoughlin: ESRC 1+3 award, 2016-2021, Psychology, University of Bath. Niall was funded through the SWDTP Sustainable Futures PhD pathway. His PhD was titled ‘Communicating Adaptation: Using Psychological Insights to Facilitate Adaptive Responses to Climate Change Impacts. Niall was lead-supervised by Ian Walker, Psychology, University of Bath; with Saffron as co-supervisor. Niall tweets @ncm_researcher. Niall went on to work as a researcher at Defra, and is now a climate communication consultant.

Dr Bouke Wiersma: ESRC +3 PhD award, 2012-2016, Geography, University of Exeter. Bouke’s PhD topic was: ‘Public Acceptability of Offshore Renewable Energy in Guernsey: Using Visual Methods to Investigate Local Energy Deliberations’. Bouke was lead-supervised by Patrick Devine-Wright, Geography, University of Exeter and Alan Lewis, Psychology, University of Bath; with Saffron as co-supervisor. Bouke went on to work as a transport policy adviser in the Dutch government.

Dr Colette Mortreux: Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) PhD award, 2009-2014, Department of Resource Management and Geography, University of Melbourne. Colette’s PhD topic was: ‘Understanding Adaptation: Households and Bushfire Risk in Mount Dandenong’. Colette was lead-supervised by Jon Barnett, Geography, University of Melbourne; with Saffron as co-supervisor. Colette went on to work as a Post-doc in Geography at the University of Exeter, and after a career break for her young family, she’s now back at Geography, University of Melbourne. Colette tweets @MortreuxColette.

Dr Sophie Guy: PhD 2009-2014, Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne. Sophie’s PhD topic was: ‘Building Climate Change Knowledge: Effects of Analogical Reasoning and Cognitive Elaboration on Beliefs and Policy Support’. Sophie was lead-supervised by Yoshihisa Kashima, Psychology, University of Melbourne and co-supervised by Saffron and Iain Walker, CSIRO. Sophie went on to work as a postdoc in Population Health, University of Adelaide.

I co-supervised the following student, as part of their training year/PhD mini-project:

Manju Bura / किताब तथा चिया प्रेमी: UKRI Environmental Intelligence CDT PhD award, supervision 2021-2022, Mathematics, University of Exeter. Manju was in her training year of her EI CDT PhD scholarship, working on a mini-project titled ‘Computer vision based analysis of heatwave imaginaries on Google Images’. Travis Coan, Politics, Exeter was lead supervisor, with Saffron as co-supervisor. Manju tweets @manju_bura.