We are a mix of multidisciplinary academic researchers and interventionists, positioning us at the interface between theory, evidence, policy and practice around our core themes. Our team has a unique range of experience and expertise, including world leading academics from health, criminology and cybercriminology, psychology, sociology, cyberpsychology, policing and law, working across the university and wider society.
Dr Julia Davidson
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
Dr Marcello Bertotti is a reader (associate professor) in community health at the Institute for Connected Communities, University of East London. He has 20 years' work experience in research and evaluation of community health interventions, social enterprise, asset based approaches to health, and social prescribing. Marcello has led research projects for a range of national (e.g. NHS), regional (Greater London Authority) and local government (Redbridge Council) institutions as well as UK research councils (NIHR, ESRC, AHRC) and is now leading the evaluation of a major European Commission funded project on using a social prescribing models to support NEET groups in Italy and Portugal.
Marcello has used a range of methodologies and approaches to evaluation including realist evaluation, social network analysis, asset mapping and used approaches to systematic reviews including meta-narrative and systematic mapping to study health interventions and communities. He is a co-founder of the international Social Prescribing Network and of the Social Prescribing Youth Network. He co-delivers an accredited Level 3 certificate in social prescribing and supervises PhD students, particularly in the area of social prescribing.
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.
Professor 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).
Anita Paza, Research Fellow
Anita is a child rights and international development professional with 20 years' of work experience in the charity sector focusing on research, project management, fundraising and partnerships. She holds an MSc in Development Studies and is also a PhD candidate. Her current research interest is child citizenship in post-dictatorial societies and how children can become active civil society members who can contribute to strengthening democracy. Her previous research experience has explored child trafficking and child labour in post-communist countries, whereas her PhD research aims at providing insight into democratic inclusion in post-communist societies by focusing on child participation in decision-making processes at the local government level in Albania.
David Blanco-Canitrot, Research Assistant
David Blanco-Canitrot is a Research Assistant.
As a research assistant at ICC, he provides data analysis and data science expertise to provide accurate cross-sections of the groups they work with.
As a social psychologist, his field of interest looks at the way in which the different aspects of an individual (Identity, Personality, Experiences) interact with environmental contexts to create action, and how this action impacts organisations, institutions and social trends. In this context, he employs statistical procedures and quantitative methodologies to bring evidence into theoretical frameworks.
Emma Louise Clewett, Research Assistant
Emma Louise Clewett is a Research Assistant.
Emma has previously worked in the voluntary sector and with Primary Care Networks, with a key role in social prescribing and health inequality research. Her professional and academic experiences have focused on highlighting and addressing the social determinants of health, as well as the facilitation of community engagement to influence health and well-being outcomes. She has a particular interest in qualitative research, which she has utilised in the field of sociology and community psychology; her MA thesis focused on analysing the impact of local pubs on community integration and social inclusion.
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.
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.
Mrs Michelle Woolley, Senior Administrator
Michelle oversees the financial, HR and grant bidding processes and records for the Institute, maintaining procedures that dovetail with those of the wider University.
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
David Robinson OBE , ICC Policy Associate
David Robinson OBE founded and currently co leads the Relationships Project . He is a community development worker and has worked on social innovation for almost fifty years, co-founding and leading several organisations including Shift - using behavioural insight and award winning design thinking to tackle social problems - the Children’s Discovery Centre, - working on literacy and language - and the multipurpose Community Links. Based in east London, Community Links was the UKs largest local voluntary organisation when David stepped down as CEO.
From 2007 to 2010, he led the Prime Ministers Council on Social Action for Gordon Brown. The Social Impact Bond was conceived here and David was one its principal architects. He subsequently chaired the board for the Peterborough Prison Social Impact Bond – the first in the world. He is now a director of Social Finance and chairs the Social Finance Impact Incubator.
David's books include Changing London (with Will Horwitz), Britain's Everyday Heroes (with Gordon Brown) and the million selling Change the World for a Fiver (with others).
David holds an honorary doctorate from the Open University. He was the first Practitioner in Residence at the LSE’s Marshall Institute, and is an Ashoka Senior Fellow once described by the Guardian as “the godfather of the community sector, equally admired on the left and right”
PhD students currently undertaking research with us
- Theeba Krishnamoorthy
- Nick Marsh
- Nigel Davies
- Ruby Farr
- Avinder Bhinder
- Josepha Reynolds
- Chinedu Anyaegbu
- Casmir Okechukwu Obasi
- Mark Tsagas
- Melanie Manning
- Cyndie Demeocq
- Adrian Ford