Core team

Professor Julia Davidson, PhD, OBE, ICC Director

Julia Davidson PhD (LSE), OBE is Professor of Criminology in the Department of Law and Criminology and Director of the Institute of Connected Communities. She is an internationally recognised expert on policy, practice and offending in the area of cybercrime and online harms.

Prof Davidson is Chair of the UK Council for Internet Safety Evidence Group and Chairs the Research Ethics Committee for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. She is a member of the Europol EC3 Expert Academic Advisory Group. She has 30 years experience of directing national and international research.

Prof Davidson has also acted as an expert advisor on online safety to governments and practitioners in the UK, EU, South America, Africa and the MENA region since 2009. Professor Davidson has worked with the media since 2003 working on live and recorded interviews for the BBC News, BBC World News, ITV, Channel 4, BBC Radio 4 News, BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour.

She has also worked on documentaries and has published widely in the cybercrime and child Internet safety area. She was made Honorary Research Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London in May 2010 and has been Adjunct Professor in the School of Law at QUT, Australia. She is a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy.  

Professor Gopal Netuveli, Deputy Director

Gopal's background is in natural and clinical sciences with research interests in epidemiology, public health, health services, social epidemiology and social policy. He is a co-investigator on the ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Health and Society. His research tends to assume a life course perspective with a focus on healthy ageing and use longitudinal data.

Dr Darren Sharpe, Deputy Director

Darren  is a Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Institute for Connected Communities. His expertise includes participatory research with children, young people and vulnerable adults to help shape, inform and influence policy and practice in public care. During his time at UEL he also worked as a Senior Consultant at the Institute of Public Care, Oxford Brookes University supporting Local Authority Directors to tackle the social care challenges facing children, young people and families. Prior to his appointment at ICC Darren was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University Childhood and Youth Research Institute and a Development Officer at the National Youth Agency.

Darren has lectured and written widely on participatory methods for doctoral, postgraduate and undergraduate students. He is held in high-esteem by students and colleagues for his teaching, scholarship and research. His empirical work has featured in national and international media and is considered by peers to be a champion and innovator in the field of participatory research.

Dr Marcello Bertotti, Reader

Marcello is a board member of The Social Prescribing Network and leads a large-scale evaluation of social prescribing in collaboration with City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group and Queen Mary University of London.

He also leads research on homelessness and mental health pathways and alternative community currencies (e.g. TimeBanks), all of which focus on developing asset-based approaches to health and wellbeing.

Professor Mary Aiken

Mary Aiken, PhD is a Professor of Forensic Cyberpsychology in the Department of Law and Criminology and is attached to the Institute for Connected Communities at the University of East London and Adjunct Professor at the Geary Institute for Public Policy University College Dublin, Ireland.

She is a member of the Academic Advisory Board at Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3). Professor Aiken is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Medicine, Global Fellow at the Washington DC Wilson Center,  member of the Medico-Legal Society of Ireland, International Affiliate Member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Fellow of the Society for Chartered IT Professionals. Her research interests include online harms, safety tech, child protection online, internet psychology, AI, human factors in cybersecurity, juvenile cyber delinquency and criminality, organised cybercrime, online behavioural profiling, personal cybersecurity and safety. 

Prof Gargi Bhattacharyya

Gargi Bhattacharyya is Professor of Sociology at ICC. They have published widely in the fields of race and racisms; sexuality; global cultures; the war on terror; austerity and racial capitalism. Their recent publications include: Crisis, austerity and everyday life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Rethinking Racial Capitalism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018) and the multi-authored work Empire's Endgame (Pluto, 2021). They are working on the CoPower project examining the impact of COVID emergency powers on racially minoritized communities in England and Wales.

Dr Ainul Hanafiah, Research Fellow

Ainul is a global mental health expert with wider interests in global health, process evaluation, and community-based initiatives. She concluded a review on the Malaysian mental health policy implementation as her PhD at University of Cambridge and has been involved in UK and international research projects in Asia and Africa. Ainul is also the co-founder of the ASEAN Emerging Researchers Conference.

Kirsty Phillips, Research Fellow

Kirsty Phillips is currently employed by University of East London (UEL) as a Research Fellow on the H2020 project and is attached to the ICC.

She recently worked on a project, funded by End Violence Against Children, to deliver a child online protection policy and implementation plan to the Government of Rwanda, in partnership 5Rights Foundation (led by Prof Davidson)  and the University of Rwanda.

Kirsty is also enrolled as PhD student at Birkbeck, University of London. Her PhD themes and current research involve Judgement and Decision Making, Bayesian Inference, Rationality and Evaluation of Eyewitness Testimony.

Work undertaken as part of this PhD has been presented at and published by the Cognitive Science Society. Kirsty has previously worked as Research Assistant at Birkbeck and Honorary Assistant Psychologist in the NHS.

Kirsty graduated from University College London with a Distinction in Research Methods in Psychology MSc and the University of Warwick with a First Class degree in Psychology, BSc (Hons).  

Ruby Farr, Research Assistant

Ruby works on the delivery of the Well Communities Programme with a specific interest in the role of civic engagement in activating health and wellbeing in local residents. Ruby is also undertaking a PhD.

Nora Morocza, Research Assistant

Nora is evaluating the Communities Driving Change programme, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Tower Hamlets' residents through capacity building in local communities.

Her background is in psychology and public health and her research interests include system change approaches in public health, and the links between ecosystem and human health, with specific focus on health and environmental behaviour change. She is currently writing her PhD about recreational walking in the UK.

Jyotsna Srinath, Research Assistant

Jyotsna Srinath is a  Research Assistant.

Michelle Woolley, Senior Administrator

Michelle has worked for the Institute since 2008. She oversees the financial, HR and grant bidding processes and records for the Institute, maintaining procedures that dovetail with those of the wider University.

Trained as an artist with an MA from the RCA, Michelle is a practicing performance artist, singer and Morris dancer with experience of teaching art at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She is also a member of the Association of Research Managers and Administrators.

Austine Karibo, Administrative Officer

Austine is the Administrative Officer (Health & Safety Officer/Diary Manager) responsible for the day-to-day running of the institute administratively. She is a member of the University of East London Environmental Sustainability Board, and an EMS Internal auditor.  She is skilled in facilitating sexual health training with a background in community engagement.  She is also a member of the Association of University Administrators.

Wider team

Professor Gail Findlay, Emeritus

Gail leads on the Well Communities programme and development of evidenced-based health improvement approaches linked to the IHHD research agenda. She is recognised nationally and internationally for her expertise is in the field of community development. She was Director of Camden and Islington Health Action Zone and worked for the Health Development Agency and then NICE as Regional Associate Director for London.

Professor Allan Brimicombe, Emeritus

Allan Brimicombe is Professor Emeritus at the University of East London where he was Head of the Centre for Geo-Information Studies for 20 years.

He is a Chartered Geographer, a Fellow of the Royal Statistical, Royal Geographical and Geological Societies, a Director of the British Society of Criminology, and is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. Allan has worked in both the private sector and academia and gained his higher degrees at the University of Hong Kong whilst 19 years abroad in the Far East where he pioneered spatial decision-support systems using numerical simulation techniques.

His other research interests include data quality issues, spatial data mining and machine learning, quantitative and mixed methods. These have been applied to crime, health, education, natural hazards, utilities and business. Allan has been a member of Crime and Criminal Justice Transparency Sector Panel which provided advice to the transparency delivery teams for crime data in the Home Office, and criminal justice data in the Ministry of Justice.

He was a non-executive member and Deputy Chair of the National Statistician's Crime Statistics Advisory Committee which advised the Home Secretary, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Office of National Statistics on all matters relating to the collection and publication of crime statistics. Allan has been a Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy.

This followed work from 2009 to 2015 on the Olympic Games Impact Studies commissioned by the Economic & Social Research Council on behalf of the International Olympic Committee. Allan spearheaded the founding of the MSc and Professional Doctorate in Data Science at UEL where he taught research methods, quantitative data analysis, computer-assisted qualitative analysis and algorithmic machine learning. He has been appointed as a Justice of the Peace and is a serving magistrate. 

Professor Adrian Renton, Emeritus

Professor Renton is a consultant academic public health physician with a track record in building and leading innovative research groups, programmes and structures in medicine, health and wellbeing, nationally and internationally and in teaching and training.

Professor Renton took on the role of Foundation Director of the Institute of Health and Human Development (now the Institute for Connected Communities) at the University of East London in 2007. Raising over £5m from Local Government, PCTs and notably the Wellcome Trust and Research Councils, the professor established the Institute's policy relevance and credibility at the top end of the academic league. 

He has held a Bronze Level NHS Clinical Excellence Award (2010) and has regularly acted as a consultant to UNAIDS, WHO, and the World Bank.

Professor Renton's current research and intervention interests are on the impact of the media and the on politics, health and wellbeing and corporate cybercrime; and the use of music in constructing political, historical and news narratives. He sits on the Coordinating Committee of the Media Reform Coalition.

Professor Angela Harden, Honorary

Angela is Professor of Community and Family Health. She is currently leading work on new models of antenatal care, addressing low birth weight and community - centred approaches to promoting health and well-being. Angela is also an internationally recognised expert on systematic reviews and evidence synthesis. 

Antonia Bifulco, Honorary Professor

Professor Bifulco's research is focused on social and lifespan influences on psychological disorder and she has investigated childhood experience, adversity and attachment style intergenerationally. She is an advocate of  intensive interview measures and runs training courses for researchers and  practitioners on attachment style, childhood neglect/abuse and parenting. She  currently directs an ESRC grant on designing an online interview on life events and difficulties in relation to depression and physical illness.

Mohsen Rajabi, Honorary Associate in Research

Dr Sara Fox, Honorary Associate Policy/Practice

PhD students

PhD students currently undertaking research with us

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  • Theeba Krishnamoorthy
  • Nick Marsh
  • Nigel Davies
  • Ruby Farr
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