Image: Eleanor Thomson
Image: Eleanor Thomson

Potential Supervisors and Topics for DPhil Research

Identifying a Topic for DPhil Research

Applicants are expected to make contact with a potential supervisor from the list of relevant staff members listed below. In discussion with the School's academic staff you will be able to refine your own ideas and develop a project that we can effectively supervise. Academic staff will be happy to discuss potential DPhil topics in human, physical and environmental geography. Please note that academic staff who are based in other departments in Oxford cannot act as a primary supervisor for a DPhil student enrolled in the School of Geography and the Environment.

Provisional agreement from a potential supervisor is not a guarantee that you will be offered a place since final decisions are made by the department admissions panel. Applicants who have not made contact with a potential supervisor are unlikely to be considered for a place.

Potential Supervisors

A list of potential DPhil supervisors at the School of Geography and the Environment is provided below. Please note that research staff from the School's research centres: the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE), and Transport Studies Unit (TSU) can also be contacted with regard to supervision but are only able to co-supervise with a main supervisor from the list of academic staff members below.

Name College(s) Summary of Research Interests
Professor Myles Allen Professor Myles Allen
Professor of Geosystem Science
Linacre College How human and natural influences on climate contribute to observed climate change and risks of extreme weather and in quantifying their implications for long-range climate forecasts.
Dr Elizabeth Baigent Dr Elizabeth Baigent
University Reader in the History of Geography
Wycliffe Hall History of cartography, history of exploration, history of travel, history of Scandinavia, biography, with special interest in how all of these things affect women.
Professor Richard Bailey Professor Richard Bailey
Associate Professor in Geochronology
St Catherine's College Quaternary palaeoclimate; geochronology (particularly luminescence-based methods) associated with environmental change, archaeology and palaeoanthrolpology; modelling luminescence processes; observations and modelling of vegetation patterning and critical thresholds in semi-arid systems; critical thresholds in environmental systems.
Dr Peter Barbrook-Johnson Dr Pete Barbrook- Johnson No college affiliation Use of systems thinking, systems mapping, and agent-based modelling for environmental and energy policy analysis
Dr Christian Brand Dr Christian Brand
Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor at the ECI and TSU
Linacre College Transport, energy and climate change policy. Systems modelling. Carbon effects of walking and cycling. Socio-technical transitions towards low-carbon, energy efficient transport systems. Measurement and evaluation of policy measures and interventions. Christian encourages graduate projects that address current challenges in the fields of 'transport and health' and 'transport and energy'. For instance, the PASTA project is producing a stream of good survey and 'objective' data, which presents a great opportunity for an analytical mind to answer research questions on key determinants of active travel and its wider transport, health and carbon impacts.
Dr Ben Caldecott Dr Ben Caldecott
Director, Oxford Sustainable Finance Group and the Lombard Odier Associate Professor of Sustainable Finance
Oriel College Sustainable finance and investment topics, including: active ownership, adaptation finance, biodiversity and nature, carbon markets, climate and environment-related financial risks, climate finance, climate resilience, conservation finance, disclosure, divestment, ESG, financial conduct, financial regulation, green banks, green benchmarks and indices, green bonds, green taxonomies, impact investing, just transition, offsetting, public private partnerships, reporting, responsible investment, science-based targets, spatial finance, stewardship and engagement, stranded assets, sustainability-linked instruments, the carbon bubble, transition finance, and transition plans.
Professor Katrina Charles Professor Katrina Charles
Senior Research Fellow
Reuben College Improving access to and sustainability of water supply and sanitation systems; Stimulating demand for sanitation; Fate and transport of viruses in the environment.
Professor Simon Dadson Professor Simon Dadson
Professor of Hydrology
Christ Church Processes that link climate, hydrology, and geomorphology.
Professor Patricia Daley Professor Patricia Daley
Professor of the Human Geography of Africa
Jesus College Sub-Saharan Africa, especially topics on issues of forced migration; humanitarianism; gender; militarism; violence and ethnicity; as well as on aspects of political ecology in relation to land tenure; natural resource exploitation; community management of natural resources; forestry; indigenous knowledge; and wildlife conservation.
Professor Danny Dorling Professor Danny Dorling
Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography
St Peter's College Issues of housing, health, employment, education, wealth and poverty.
Professor Beth Greenhough Professor Beth Greenhough
Associate Professor in Human Geography
Keble College STS, more-than-human geographies; cultural geographies of health and biomedicine; patient and public involvement in research, animal geographies; human microbiome; Long Covid and other post-viral illnesses 
Dr Richard Grenyer Dr Richard Grenyer
Associate Professor in Biodiversity and Biogeography
Jesus College Conservation - in particular conservation strategy, systematic conservation planning, biodiversity measurement and valuation. Biogeography, ecology and evolutionary ecology - particularly of mammals and plants. Phylogeography and phyloinformatics.
Professor Jim Hall Professor Jim Hall
Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks
Linacre College Water resource systems, flooding and adaptation to climate change. Resilience of infrastructure systems modelling and policy analysis. Decision making under uncertainty. Risk analysis.
Dr Neil Hart Dr Neil Hart
Departmental Lecturer in Physical Geography and Career Development Fellow
Christ Church Weather-climate interactions, particularly in the subtropical hydroclimates. Dynamical processes underpinning regional climate change. The upscale impact of convective hotspots on regional circulation. Climate dynamics of African regions. Extreme weather risks.
Professor Cameron Hepburn Professor Cameron Hepburn
Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and Professor of Environmental Economics
New College
St Edmund Hall
Environmental economics; specifically on the post-carbon transition, natural climate solutions, circular plastics, the energy revolution, integrating renewable energy, stranded assets and carbon budgets, carbon pricing.
Dr Timothy Hodgetts

Dr Timothy Hodgetts

Departmental Lecturer

No college affiliation Animal geographies, particularly relating to animals and: infrastructure, built environment, wildlife conservation, environmental management, or planning regimes. Also cultural/historical animal geographies relating to storytelling about animals. 
Professor Rob Hope Professor Rob Hope
Professor of Water Policy
No college affiliation Water security, policy and poverty in Africa and Asia. Rural water policy, institutions and finance, including water payment behaviours and affordability.
Dr Debbie Hopkins Dr Debbie Hopkins
Associate Professor in Human Geography
Kellogg College The mobilities of people, things and ideas; decarbonising the transport system; intersections of decarbonisation, equity and justice; mobile labour; gendered mobilities; climate change adaptation; urban flood risks.
Dr Radhika Khosla Dr Radhika Khosla
Senior Research Associate in Environment and Energy, SSEE, and Research Director, Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development
Somerville College Urban responses to climate change and urban sustainable development. Energy demand and services consumption (focus on the built environment). Climate change mitigation and socio-technical transitions. Developing countries and transitioning cities. Quantitative trends, policy, governance and institutional analysis.
Dr Ian Klinke Dr Ian Klinke
Associate Professor in Human Geography
St John's College Geopolitics and political geography, Germany, the Cold War, military landscapes, biopolitics, far-right politics, intellectual history, European integration.
Dr Sneha Krishnan Dr Sneha Krishnan
Associate Professor in Human Geography
Brasenose College Feminist/queer studies, cities in the global South, geo-and biopolitics, childhood and youth, colonial and postcolonial geographies, South Asia.
Professor Anna Lora-Wainwright Professor Anna Lora-Wainwright
Professor of the Human Geography of China
St Cross College

Anna is interested in ethnographic, creative and participatory methodologies and she is happy to supervise on one or a combination of the following fields:

  1. ethnographies and geographies of health and caring practices, feminist approaches to care, lived experiences of illness, trauma, cancer and pregnancy
  2. diasporic experiences, belonging and solidarity among migrant communities (particularly in relation to Chinese communities)
  3. global environmental justice, political ecology, environmental health controversies, public participation in zero waste and degrowth initiatives
  4. inequalities, injustice, activism and social change in contemporary China.
Professor Jamie Lorimer Professor Jamie Lorimer
Professor of Environmental Geography
Hertford College Investigations of the cultures and politics of Nature, especially in relation to wildlife conservation, rewilding, nature recovery and regenerative agriculture. Social studies of the microbiome, especially of fermentation and other probiotic approaches to managing microbial life. Animal geographies and research on nonhuman charisma. Theoretical work engaging with more-than-human geographies, science studies and political ecology. 
Professor Yadvinder Malhi Professor Yadvinder Malhi
Professor of Ecosystem Science
Oriel College Interactions between forest ecosystems, climate change and land-use change, including the utility of forest protection in mitigating climate change. Techniques applied in this research include plant ecophysiology, long term forest monitoring and short-term expeditions, forest micrometerological and flux measurements, manipulative experiments, and satellite remote sensing of intact forests and deforestation. His interests are global, but particularly focus on tropical forests, especially in the Andes and Amazon, and more recently on the woodlands of the Upper Thames.
Professor Fiona McConnell Professor Fiona McConnell
Associate Professor in Human Geography
St Catherine's College Political geography and critical geopolitics. Specifically the everyday construction of statehood and sovereignty in cases of tenuous territoriality (e.g. unrecognised/de facto states, exile governments, stateless nations). Theories of sovereignty, and the relationship between territory and authority. Theories of the state and the use of ethnographic methods to uncover everyday state practices. Diplomacy, minority communities and the UN system.
Professor Derek McCormack Professor Derek McCormack
Professor of Cultural Geography
Mansfield College Geographies of: air/atmosphere; the body, performance and movement; affect and emotion; art, experiment, and creativity; material cultures. Social/cultural theories and philosophies of space and time, particularly non-representational theory and post-structuralism.
Dr Constance L. McDermott Dr Constance L McDermott
Associate Professor and Jackson Senior Research Fellow in Land Use Governance
Oriel College The multi-scale governance of land use, forests and climate. This includes the political ecology of international state and market-based processes (UNFCCC REDD+, FLEGT, sustainability certification, Zero Deforestation initiatives) and their translation into national, regional and local contexts. It also includes exploration of community and grassroots networks and initiatives as alternative forms of collective action.
Dr Janey Messina Dr Janey Messina
Associate Professor in Quantitative Social Science Methods
Green Templeton College Quantitative health geography, medical geography, spatial epidemiology, disease ecology, geography of infectious diseases.
Dr Jennie Middleton Dr Jennie Middleton
Associate Professor in Human Geography
St Anne's College Jennie's research relates to three overlapping themes, all of which are underpinned by concerns with the relationships between theory, policy and practice: Geographies of mobilities; Care in the city; and Innovative methodologies for urban research.
Dr Alex Money Dr Alex Money
Director, Innovative Infrastructure Investment Programme, SSEE
St Catherine's College Economic and financial geography. Investment models to improve sustainable development outcomes. Sector interests: water, energy, food, work, infrastructure. Thematic interests: investment pathways, ESG, alternative data. Specialist interests: sub-saharan Africa, earth observation, asset management.
Dr David Moreno-Mateos Dr David Moreno-Mateos
Associate Professor in Physical Geography
St Edmund Hall David focuses on understanding the recovery of ecosystems affected by anthropogenic degradation. This will help define tools for the practice of ecosystem restoration and have better informed environmental policy. We combine field-work, meta-analysis, genomics, network ecology, biogeochemistry or archaeology among other disciplines to address our questions. We have a broad interest in terms of organisms and biomes as we look into global recovery patterns and mechanisms.
Dr Amber Murrey Dr Amber Murrey
Associate Professor in Human Geography
Mansfield College Decolonial political geographies and political ecologies. Politics of extraction and lived or embodied experiences of extraction, particularly in African societies and the global South. Geographies of resistance. Structural violence and geographies of violence. Decolonial thought and non-western epistemologies. Digital disruptions, cyber-protest and political geographies of the Internet. Queering development, post-development, decolonising development. Geopolitics of knowledge and movements to decolonise knowledge, particularly within universities or the social sciences.
Dr Anna Plyushteva Dr Anna Plyushteva
Departmental Research Lecturer in Transport Studies
St Antony's College Geographies of urban transport and mobility; Qualitative and mixed research methods in transport geography; Transport and mobility from the perspective of gender and the household; Night-time urban mobilities; Links between commuting practices and workplace social relations; Sociological and anthropological perspectives on how we pay for transport services; Cities and mobilities in South-Eastern Europe.
Professor Gillian Rose Professor Gillian Rose
Professor of Human Geography
St John's College Geographies of contemporary visual culture, digitally-produced images and visual methodologies. I'm particularly interested in how new forms of digitally-mediated imagery and practices are emerging in both popular practices and in new design professions; in smart cities; and in critical modes of investigating and theorising these shifts. Also critical urban geography, histories of visual and other cultural practice, and critical cultural geographies more broadly.
Professor Tim Schwanen Professor Tim Schwanen
Associate Professor in Transport Studies,
Director of the TSU
St Anne's College The everyday mobility of people, goods and information, and in particular: transitions to low carbon mobility and living in cities, with a specific focus on questions of social justice and governance; the rise and governance of smart, shared or autonomous mobility; the interactions between transport infrastructure development and socio-spatial inequalities; the effects of urban contexts on individuals' practices and experiences of mobility; the relationship between mobility, power and subject formation.
Dr Avidesh Seenath

Dr Avidesh Seenath

Departmental Lecturer

No college affiliation Avidesh is interested in supervising DPhil projects in areas relating coastal geomorphology, shoreline modelling, coastal management, flood modelling, and flood risk communications.
Dr Louise Slater Dr Louise Slater
Associate Professor in Physical Geography
Hertford College Flood processes; rivers; fluvial geomorphology; hydrology; climate; computation. Research topics: Detection and attribution of changes in flood processes and hydrological extremes (e.g. disentangling climatic versus land cover drivers); understanding and predicting how river channels and their networks adjust dynamically to shifting land cover and climate regimes; developing new statistical, mathematical or machine learning approaches for better forecasting major hydro-climatic events in the future. Research methodologies: data-driven, computer-based analyses; data science, statistical modelling, machine learning, satellite remote sensing.
Dr Linda Speight Dr Linda Speight
Departmental Lecturer in Physical Geography
Hertford College Linda is a hydrometeorologist whose research seeks to develop early warning systems to improve disaster risk management, particularly for flooding. She is interested in global flood forecasting, surface water flood forecasting, ensemble forecasts, impact-based forecasts, risk communication, decision making and climate resilience.

Dr Chloe Strevens

Departmental Lecturer

No college affiliation

Conservation, particularly the use of participatory approaches including community science and working with indigenous and local knowledge to develop locally attuned and community-led conservation projects


Professor David S.G. Thomas Professor David S.G. Thomas
Professor of Geography
Hertford College Quaternary environments in the low latitudes, especially Africa; luminescence dating applications; aeolain systems; land degradation and human-environment interactions in drylands and Africa; climate change impacts and adaptation.
Dr Alex Vasudevan Dr Alex Vasudevan
Associate Professor in Human Geography
Christ Church Critical urban geography: alternative urbanisms, radical politics and the geographies of protest: contemporary urbanisation and precarious living: the history of squatting and its relationship to broader currents in contemporary urban thinking: spatial theory and experimentation: cultural geographies of artistic practice: historical and cultural geographies of performance.
Professor Heather Viles Professor Heather Viles
Professor of Biogeomorphology and Heritage Conservation
Worcester College Geomorphology and environmental change (especially in arid and karst environments); building stone deterioration and conservation; weathering and rock breakdown (especially in arid, coastal, karst and other extreme environments); rock breakdown on Mars and other planets.
Professor Richard Washington Professor Richard Washington
Professor of Climate Science
Keble College African climate science; climate change and variability in Africa; rainfall variability and prediction in Africa; mineral aerosol (dust) production and transport in Africa.
Dr Lisa Wedding Dr Lisa Wedding
Associate Professor in Physical Geography
Worcester College Lisa has a special interest in applying a geospatial approach at the intersection of science and policy to solve environmental problems. Her overall approach to research and problem solving weaves together theoretical approaches from the disciplines of landscape ecology, conservation biology and applies geospatial analytical tools and techniques. Lisa's applied seascape ecology research has focused on field-based ecological data collection and spatial modeling efforts in both tropical and temperate marine environments. Her current research is focused on combining remote sensing and analytical tools to track rapid change in these marine regions, in order to help identify risks of potential tipping points and illuminate ocean policy solutions.
Professor Giles Wiggs Professor Giles Wiggs
Professor of Aeolian Geomorphology
Brasenose College Measuring and modelling aeolian processes in deserts with an emphasis on aeolian sediment transport; sand dune dynamics; dynamics of aeolian dust; desert geomorphology; and low latitude environmental change. Research techniques include fieldwork in southern Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and Australia in combination with wind tunnel and computer modelling. Enquiries concerning any aspect of desert geomorphology are welcomed.

Examples of Specific Research Topics

Below is a list of topics which applicants might like to consider and discuss further with the relevant staff. This list is not exhaustive, however, if you wish to develop a research topic outside of this list then please feel welcome to contact a relevant member of staff for discussion. These topics do not have funding attached.

  • Transition finance principles. Stakeholders, products, incentives, metrics and targets
    Supervisor: Dr Ben Caldecott
  • The risk of stranded assets in food infrastructure from the transition to sustainable diets
    Supervisor: Dr Ben Caldecott
  • Stranded assets in downstream SMEs in Thailand: assessing risks and resilience
    Supervisor: Dr Ben Caldecott
  • The Future of Engagement: An investigation into optimal engagement practices and the potential for alpha generation
    Supervisor: Dr Ben Caldecott
  • Are primary market transactions allocating capital to companies that are aligned to the Paris Agreement?
    Supervisor: Dr Ben Caldecott
  • Climate risk scenario analysis and the role of central banks and supervisors
    Supervisors: Dr Ben Caldecott and Professor Doyne Farmer
  • Paris aligned portfolios and the real economy
    Supervisor: Dr Ben Caldecott
  • Shaping a resilient green bond market: non-financial disclosure, public issuance and climate risk management
    Supervisor: Dr Ben Caldecott
  • Motives beyond markets: State ownership, stranded assets, and decarbonisation in the power sector
    Supervisors: Dr Ben Caldecott and Professor Cameron Hepburn
  • Quantifying barriers to the power generation sector’s low-carbon transition using machine learning and asset-level datasets.
    Supervisors: Dr Ben Caldecott and Professor Cameron Hepburn
  • Technology, information, and the governance of environmental risk
    Supervisors: Dr Ben Caldecott and Professor Cameron Hepburn