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Personal profile

Research interests

My research explores the impact of ageing on planning, urban design, outdoor spaces, neighbourhoods and housing. My research addresses aspects of health and well-being, social sustainability, age-friendly cities, sense of place, identity and belonging. I work across a range of scales including the street, neighbourhood, and city to examine place-based supports for active and healthy ageing. Much of my research has been transnational in nature, working with academics, practitioners, policy-makers and community groups in the developed and developing world. My methodologies are largely participatory, working with participants as co-researchers and undertaking community mapping, participatory research, and visual methods to undertanding the relationship between person and place. 



I am an Associate Professor in Health and Well-being oin The Urban Institute (TUI) at Heriot-Watt University. Prior to this, I worked at the Gerontology Research Centre, Vancouver, Canada exploring issues of social justice, housing and ageing-in-place. In my research career, I have evaluated urban regeneration programmes in the North-West of England exploring their impact on social and community well-being. I have undertaken research with marginalised and excluded groups including the homeless and socially isolated older adults.

I am currently P-I on two ESRC-funded grant exploring Age Friendly Cities and Communities, undertaking collaborative case study research in cities in UK, Brazil and India (total funding £1.2 million as P-I). The research will develop resources and tools for the development of tools and resources to support older adults to age-in-place.



Roles & Responsibilities

Ryan is Adjunct Professor in Ageing at the Gerontology Research Centre (GRC), Simon Fraser University, Canada. He is also Board Member of the International Society for Gerontechnology (ISG).

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Research Output

Place (in)securities: older adults’ perceptions across urban environments in the United Kingdom ((In)seguridades de lugar. Percepciones de las personas mayores en distintos entornos urbanos del Reino Unido)

Makita, M., Woolrych, R., Sixsmith, J., Murray, M., Menezes, D., Fisher, J. & Lawthom, R., 3 May 2020, In : PsyEcology. 11, 2, p. 214-231 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Ageing-in-Place for Low-Income Seniors: Living at the Intersection of Multiple Identities, Positionalities, and Oppressions

    Sixsmith, J., Fang, M. L., Woolrych, R., Canham, S. L., Battersby, L., Ren, T. H. & Sixsmith, A., 2019, The Palgrave Handbook of Intersectionality in Public Policy. Hankivsky, O. & Jordan-Zachery, J. S. (eds.). Palgrave Macmillan, p. 641-664 24 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Building UK Age Friendly Cities and Communities from the Ground up: Older People on Intergenerational Perspectives

    Sixsmith, J., Woolrych, R., Fisher, J., Murray, M., Makita, M., Lawthom, R. & Menezes, D., 24 May 2019.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

    Constructing and negotiating social participation in old age: Experiences of older adults living in urban environments in the United Kingdom

    Woolrych, R., Sixsmith, J., Fisher, J., Makita, M., Lawthom, R. & Murray, M., 23 Dec 2019, In : Ageing and Society. p. 1-23 23 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Developing Age-Friendly Cities and Communities: Experiences from the UK , Brazil and India

    Woolrych, R., Sixsmith, J., Menezes, D., Fisher, J., Murray, M., Lawthom, R., Smith, H. & Garcia-Ferrari, S., 28 Aug 2019.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper