Meet the team
Professor Michael Woods
Michael Woods is the project leader for GLOBAL-RURAL. He is Professor of Human Geography at Aberystwyth University, where he also holds the title of Professor of Transformative Social Science, and is Co-Director of the ESRC WISERD/Civil Society Research Centre. In addition to work on globalization and rural areas, Mike’s research has covered topics of rural development, rural politics and protest and community governance. Mike currently co-ordinates the €5m IMAJINE project, funded by the European Union’s Hoirzon 2020 programme to examine territorial inequalities and spatial justice (2017-2021).
Mike has held previous research grants from the ESRC, AHRC and EU Framework Programme 7, and was Co-Director of the Wales Rural Observatory, a collaborative centre with Cardiff University funded by the Welsh Government to undertake research to support rural development. He was elected as Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2018 and as a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales in 2017.
Mike is editor of the Journal of Rural Studies, and Co-Editor of the Policy Press Book Series on Civil Society and Social Change. He is author or editor of several books including Rural Geography (Sage, 2005), Contesting Rurality (Ashgate, 2005), Rural (Routledge, 2011), Globalization and Europe’s Rural Regions (Ashgate 2015) and Key Concepts in Rural Geography (Sage, 2015).
Dr Jesse Heley
Jesse Heley is co-investigator on the GLOBAL-RURAL project and a Lecturer in Human Geography at Aberystwyth University. Jesse completed a PhD at Aberystwyth and was previously employed as a post-doctoral research in the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD). His research interests include rural change, gentrification and the performance of middle class identities in rural communities, the evolution of spatial planning practice, and the lives of older people in rural communities and their involvement in voluntary activity. He is leader of a project on older people and volunteering as part of the ESRC WISERD/Civil Society Research Centre. AU webpage.
Dr Francesca Fois
Francesca Fois is a post-doctoral researcher on the GLOBAL-RURAL project. She joined the team in May 2016 from Nottingham University, where she had been employed as a Teaching Associate in Economic Geography, having previously completed at PhD at Newcastle University on intentional communities in Brazil and Italy as alternative spaces. Francesca will be working on GLOBAL-RURAL research in Brazil and China and on the ‘global challenges’ work package. AU webpage.
Dr Laura Jones
Laura Jones is a post-doctoral researcher on the GLOBAL-RURAL project. After completing a PhD at Aberystwyth, Laura worked as a researcher and programme administrator for the FP7 DERREG project (‘Developing Europe’s Rural Regions in an Era of Globalization’) and for the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) and the Wales Rural Observatory. Laura will also be working with Jesse Heley on research on older people and volunteering as part of the ESRC WISERD/Civil Society Research Centre. AU webpage.
Dr Anthonia Onyeahialam
Anthonia Onyeahialam is a GIS post-doctoral researcher on the GLOBAL-RURAL project and primarily responsible for GIS and Geovisualization work as part of work package 2, ‘Mapping and Visualizing the Global Countryside’.
Anthonia completed her PhD at Newcastle University. She has a Masters in GIS (University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada), Msc in Photogrammetry and Geoinformatics from Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences, Stuttgart, Germany and a Bsc in Geography and Planning from University of Lagos, Nigeria.
Her experience is in academia and industry mainly in the area of international development. She taught at Newcastle University and at post graduate level at the Regional Centre for Training in Aerospace Surveys (RECTAS). She managed TetraTech ARD USAID projects in Liberia and worked as the GIS specialist for United National Mission to Liberia (UNMIL), supporting the mission on a diverse range of projects. She has worked as a research assistant at University of Calgary on an IUCN funded 30 year change detection of Bach Ma National Forest Reserve, Vietnam. She then proceeded to be the Remote sensing specialist for Digital Environmental Management, Saskatoon, Canada working for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming, USA. AU webpage
Dr Marc Welsh
Marc Welsh is a post-doctoral researcher on the GLOBAL-RURAL project. He has an MSc in Environmental Impact Assessment and MA in Place, Space and Politics from University of Wales, Aberystwyth and a BSc in Biology from the University of York. After completing a PhD at Aberystwyth, Marc was employed as a post-doctoral researcher on a Leverhulme Trust-funded project on the ‘Time-Spaces of Soft Paternalism’ and has worked as executive editor for the journals Regional Studies and Territory, Politics, Governance. AU webpage.
Dr Samantha Saville
Sam is a research assistant on the GLOBAL-RURAL project. She has completed a Human Geography PhD on value and environmental politics in Svalbard. She has previously worked as a visiting lecturer at Chester University and a tutor and researcher at the Centre for Alternative Technology. Sam’s work on the project concentrates on researching globalisation in rural Wales both through the Newtown case study on the Countertopography of Everyday Globalization work package, and at festival events throughout the region as part of the (Re-)Assembling the Global Countryside work package.
Fidel Budy is a postgraduate researcher on the GLOBAL-RURAL project working on a PhD on biofuels and international land investment in Liberia, linked to work package 4.
After completing his Bachelors in Business Management from Hull University, Fidel spent two years working in Liberia. Firstly as a radio producer for the state broadcaster and then marketing manager of a commercial bank. His exposure to social and health inequality led him to return to the UK to undertake a Public Health masters in International Development with the University of Sheffield’s Geography Department. Whilst writing his master’s thesis on the geopolitics of development aid, Fidel recognised the influence of natural resources, especially land, on investment and aid allocations in Africa. Thus he has embarked on a research project exploring the impact of investments in land conversion from food to biofuels production on rural communities in Africa. AU webpage.
Beth Saunders is a postgraduate researcher on the GLOBAL- RURAL project working on a PhD looking into the role of faith based organisations in promoting social and environmental justice in areas of rural Africa. Beth has a BSc in Geography and an MA in Regional and Environmental Policy from Aberystwyth University.
Dr Reuben Knutson
Reuben Knutson is project administrator for the GLOBAL-RURAL project. His practice-based PhD examined the rural imaginary and lifestyle protest with reference to alternative living in West Wales in the 1970s, and its significance for contemporary Wales. Reuben also teaches Film and Media at Coleg Ceredigion in Aberystwyth.