UCL academics elected to Academy of Social Sciences in recognition of their contributions to society

Clockwise from top left: Dr Adam Dennett, Andrew Barry, Anne White, Liz Varga, M

Clockwise from top left: Dr Adam Dennett, Andrew Barry, Anne White, Liz Varga, Muki Haklay, Mark Galeotti

Six academics from across UCL have been made Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences, in recognition of their work addressing some of the major challenges facing communities, society, places and economies.

The Academy of Social Sciences Fellowship comprises 1,400 social scientists from academia, private and third sectors. New Fellows are recognised after an independent peer process for the impact of their cross-disciplinary work and their wider contributions to the social sciences for public benefit.

The academics admitted to the Fellowship are:

Professor Andrew Barry (UCL Geography)

Dr Adam Dennett (UCL CASA)

Professor Mark Galeotti (UCL Slavonic & Eastern European Studies)

Professor Muki Haklay (UCL Geography)

Professor Liz Varga (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering)

Professor Anne White (UCL Slavonic & Eastern European Studies)

Professor Andrew Barry (UCL Geography) has been recognised for his research looking at the relationship between science and politics as well as between the social and natural sciences. His first book Political Machines: Governing a Technological Society demonstrated how expertise in the natural sciences and engineering plays a critical role in political life. Increasingly, his research contributes to wider debates about how social scientists should understand the politics of materials and physical environments. He is currently writing a book on what he calls ’chemical geography’.

Professor Barry said: "The word crisis has been overused, but this is a period of multiple crises, and in these extraordinary and challenging circumstances, research and teaching in the social sciences are as relevant as ever.

"The Academy of Social Sciences plays a vital role in ensuring that the voice of social scientists continues to be heard, and I am delighted to be able to contribute to its mission. As somebody originally trained in physics and chemistry, who now works across geography and anthropology, it is a huge honour for me to become a Fellow of the Academy."

Dr Adam Dennett (UCL CASA) is Professor of Urban Analytics and Head of the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Awareness (CASA). Over the last decade his research utilising quantitative methods in applied urban settings has spanned topics such as demography and migration, the geographies of beer and brewing in urban areas and improving our data infrastructure through crowd sourcing or synthetic data approaches. His research interests include gentrification and neighbourhood change, residential mobilities, housing, urban health and retail.

Speaking on his new Fellowship, Dr Dennett said: "It’s a great honour for me to be nominated and accepted into the Academy of Social Sciences alongside such an esteemed group of peers. Until very recently I still thought of myself as an early-career academic, although reflecting on my career as a social science educator, it is now almost exactly 20 years since I first set foot in a classroom to teach Geography, so with this Fellowship I may soon realise that I am becoming part of the social science furniture!

"I have always given equal billing to research, teaching and wider enabling activities in my career, so it is particularly gratifying that the Academy would bestow a Fellowship upon a jack-of-all-trades like myself."

Professor Mark Galeotti (UCL Slavonic & East European Studies) was elected in connection to his work on contemporary Russia, about which he has published numerous books including The Vory and We Need to Talk about Putin. His next book, The Weaponisation of Everything, is a study of the changing nature of modern conflict and will be published in February 2022. He is also working on a survey of Russia’s military since 1991 and a deep dive into the security and intelligence services and their impact on Russian politics and society.

Professor Galeotti said: "It is obviously always affirming to receive the recognition of my peers. As an interdisciplinary scholar whose work sprawls across politics, history, criminology and security studies, it is especially encouraging to be welcomed into the Fellowship, recognising that the study of society in all its forms is often by necessity something best approached from an eclectic perspective.

"At a time when artificial boundaries are too often being erected between the quantitative and the qualitative, between this theoretical school and that, it is important that the Academy of Social Sciences continues to uphold a British tradition of combining scholarly rigour with openness and imagination."

Professor Muki Haklay (UCL Geography) works on developing theories, methodologies and tools to support community mapping and citizen science, empowering them to address challenges they face. This includes working with communities ranging from those neighbouring UCL to indigenous peoples in Brazil. His work aims to make local knowledge sharing an easier process, regardless of literacy.

Professor Haklay said: "I’m truly honoured to be elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. It is inspiring to be in such a distinguished company and to receive this recognition of my academic work by my peers. I am deeply grateful to the many communities, groups and individuals who worked with me on participatory scientific efforts. I could not carry out any of my work without the openness, willingness and effort of the students, researchers and members of the communities that I worked with over the years.

"This fellowship is also a recognition for the interdisciplinary nature of UCL. Both at the Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering and the Department of Geography, I was free to develop research that goes beyond usual disciplinary silos and is rooted in social science approaches."

Professor Liz Varga (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering) has a chair in Complex Systems at University College London (UCL). She leads the Infrastructure Systems Institute (UCL) and is section head for Infrastructure and Cities in the Civil, Environmental, and Geomatics Engineering Department (UCL). She is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building Engineers (FCABE) and a commissioner with the National Preparedness Commission.

On her admission to the Fellowship, Professor Varga said: "I am delighted to be included in this year’s list of fellowships of the Academy of Social Sciences. I am an advocate for methods that help us discover how activities result in systemic outcomes. The sort of questions I investigate are ’how do digital twins create more resilient infrastructure services?’ My work has generally been in collaboration with social scientists and informed by methods and perspectives on human behaviour and understanding informed by the social sciences. We need more recognition that engineering is ultimately a socio-technical science."

Professor Anne White (UCL Slavonic & East European Studies - SSES) has been researching and teaching social change and migration in Central and Eastern Europe since the 1980s, focusing particularly on Poland and Russia. Her work straddles sociology, anthropology, politics, history and geography and she created and continues to organise/run? the Polish Migration Website, a hub for international multidisciplinary migration studies research.

Professor White said: "I’m grateful to BASEES, the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies, for my nomination to the Academy. As a migration researcher, I’m particularly happy to have been elected to the Fellowship. Social scientists need to club together to present evidence-based arguments to the public and dispel the migration myths peddled by too many politicians and journalists."

Will Hutton, President of the Academy of Social Sciences, said; "As the Academy extends its outward-facing focus, engagement with all sectors of the social science community is vitally important and I very much hope to draw on the deep knowledge and expertise of our new Fellows."


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