• EH14 4AS

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I would be very happy to consider applications from potential PhD students on topics related to my research interests.

Willing to speak to media

1997 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

I am a Professor in International Migration and Racial Justice. My research has focused on increasing understanding of the ways in which race, ethncity, gender, disability, socio-economic position and geography intersect with each other to shape the lives of individuals with a migration history. Alongside this, I have also investigated the responsiveness and capacity of key public, private and voluntary sector organisations in engaging with them. This understanding is important not only for advancing scholarship in a highly politicised and contested area but also for informing policy; the planning, delivery and accountabilty of public services; creating fairer workplaces; ensuring more just and inclusive transitions to more sustainable environments; building more harmonious societies and for co-designing and co-producing interventions to improve the lives of racially diverse individuals. 

I have led publicly funded research across a broad range of public policy, including access, experiences and outcomes of  housing, (mental) health and social care services, participation in the labour market and language acquisition.  Funders of my research include the UKRI, the European Commission, the NHS, Scottish Government, quasi-governmental organisations and charitable organisations, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

I am currently PI of the Protecting Minority Ethnic Communities Online (PRIME) project, a £3.4 Million transdiscipinary UKRI-funded project. Led by Heriot Watt University, PRIME comprises a consortium of five other universities (Cranfield University, the Open University and the Universities of Glasgow and York), six community organisations (BEAP, BRAP, Carribean African Health Network, Council of Ethnic Minority Organisations (CEMVO) Scotland and East London Muslim Centre) and multipe stakeholders, including the NHS, the UK Collaborative Centre for Housng Evidence, Scottish Government and Energy Systems Catapult.

The project is rooted within the context of systemic marginalisation, discrimination and excluson of minority ethnic communities and rapidly digitalising services. We are concerned that existing inequalities in accessing and using services may either be reproduced or exacerbated, or that new forms of discrimination may arise. We are currently investigating the experiences of racialised communities in engaging with key online (health, housing and energy) services and institutional capacity to engage with them. We will then go on to co-design and co-produce multiple social and technical solutions. 

I am also leading a 66K project funded by the Aberdeen Financial Fairness Trust and working with Shelter Scotland and CEMVO Scotland to investigate the access of minoritised communities to housing at key transition points. The project stems from an understanding that although ethnic inequalities in housing are well-established, the processes which give rise to them remain poorly understood, hindering evidence-based policy making. 


Roles & Responsibilities

Policy Engagement

Internationally, I have worked with a wide range of organisations including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the EU-funded MIEUX (MIgration EU eXpertise), a global initiative which fosters and advances international cooperation to regional organisations, central and local authorities, and civil society organisations.

I currently act in an advisory capacity to UK Research and Innovation, the public body responsible for the direction and funding of research in the country. My work here is particularly focused on social and economic issues through membership of the Economic and Social Research Council's Strategic Advisory Network. I regularly advise on new calls for research and review applications for large programmes of research.

I have served as Commissioner with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, whose work promotes the rights of people with mental illness, learning disabilities, dementia and related conditions and ensures that they have appropriate support to live the life of their choice. In that capacity, I served as Chair of its Equality and Diversity Working Group. 

I have also advised several governmental committees, most recently the Scottish Government's Expert Reference Group on Covid-19 and Ethnicity, and the Labour Market Strategy Group. I have presented expert evidence on several occasisions, including to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence and the Scottish Parliament's Equalities and Human Rights Committee. 

In the early stages of my academic career, I served as Chair of an Edinburgh-based women's health project called Nari Kalllyan Shango. In this role, I gained deep understanding of the valuable work undertaken by grassroots organisations in filling the gaps left by public services. 


Following completion of my PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh, I transitioned to the social sciences through several research related posts, the last of which was as Director of the Scottish Ethnic Minorities Research Unit in the School of Planning and Housing at Edinburgh College of Art. I then moved to Heriot Watt University where I have worked in a more academic role. I continue to work primarily at the interface between sociology and social policy, and now engage with the social processes associated with language acquisition in physical and virtual environments.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

External positions

Member of ESRC Strategic Advisory Network

Member of Scottish Government Expert Advisory Group on Covid-19 and Ethnicity

Member of Social Scientists Against the Hostile Environment

Member of the Scottish Government's Labour Market Strategy Group


  • H Social Sciences (General)


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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