• Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings

    EH9 3JG Edinburgh

    United Kingdom

  • West Mains Road, Kings Buildings, Peter Wilson Building

    EH9 3JG Edinburgh

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

I have been researching rural and regional development issues for over 20 years, working for both academic and policy organisations across the UK. My main areas of interest are: rural economies and businesses; rural community change; and rural policies and the policy-making process. I have managed and (co)delivered applied research projects for a variety of clients including the Scottish Government, the Rural Committee of the Swedish Parliament, the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities of the Council of Europe, Amazon, Scottish and Southern Energy, Defra, the Commission for Rural Communities, and various enterprise agencies, local authorities and third and community sector organisations.

I have experience of conducting quantitative and qualitative analysis, including large scale business surveys, analysis of secondary data, interviews, focus groups, and facilitating workshops. My current position as Rural Policy Centre Manager involves managing a number of staff, research projects and high profile knowledge exchange and policy engagement activities, including conferences, events and meetings of the Cross Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Rural Policy. I am a member of Defra’s Academic Panel and the Scottish Government’s Rural Communities Liaison Group. I have been an invited speaker at several international meetings and conferences, including the Council of Europe and several OECD Rural Development Conferences. I am also pleased to be part of SRUC's team as an Associate Partner and the Scottish hub in NICRE.


I contribute to teaching on an undergraduate Rural Development module and postgraduate teaching on writing policy briefs and engaging with policy for students on our MSc Ecological Economics course. 


I supervise undergraduate student dissertations on our Agriculture and Agri-Business Management degrees and postgraduate student dissertations on our MSc in Ecological Economics. I have experience of supervising PhD students in my previous role at Newcastle University, including:

  • 2007-2011: Robert Newbery, ESRC CASE studentship on “Business networks and market towns” (co-supervisor with Matthew Gorton and Jeremy Phillipson at Newcastle University, co-funded by One NorthEast)
  • Co-supervisor of several ESRC-funded PhD students during time at Newcastle (Luke Dilley, Natalie Ross and Paul Cowie – all completed after I moved to SRUC) and one student who was funded by the Korean Government (again who completed after I moved to SRUC)



  • 2016-22: Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme 2016-22, Work Package 3.4. Communities and Wellbeing, Research Deliverable 3.4.2: Place-based policy and its implications for policy and service delivery (RD lead, £60,000 pa to SRUC)
  • 2016-22: Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme 2016-22, Work Package 3.4. Communities and Wellbeing, Research Deliverable 3.4.1 Demographic change in remote rural Scotland (Co-I, £10,000 pa to SRUC)
  • 2020-21: Review of the Kilgallioch Windfarm Community Fund, for Kilgallioch Community Benefit Company (PI, £8,000)
  • 2019-21: Rural Lives: Understanding Financial Hardship and Vulnerability in Rural Areas (Co-I with Professor Mark Shucksmith (Newcastle University), Polly Chapman (Impact Hub Inverness) and Jayne Glass (SRUC), funded by Standard Life Foundation, £20,000 to SRUC)

Recent (selected)

  • 2019: The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018: Evidence needs for improving outcomes for Scotland’s island communities (PI, funded by SEFARI Sparks, £10,000)
  • 2019:  A review of early Islands Community Impacts Assessments, commissioned by RESAS, Scottish Government (PI, £6,000)
  • 2019: The role of the LEADER approach post-Brexit, commissioned by RESAS, Scottish Government (PI, £50,000)
  • 2018-19: Review of international community, communal and municipal land ownership, Scottish Land Commission (Co-I, £36,000)
  • 2018-19: Rural Enterprises in Scotland: The Evidence Base (PI, SFC Universities Innovation Fund project, £10,000)
  • 2018-19: Exploring the gender pay gap in rural Scotland, commissioned by RESAS, Scottish Government (PI, £10,000)
  • 2017-2018: An evaluation of the Griffin and Calliacher Enterprise Fund, commissioned by Scottish and Southern Energy (PI, approx. £18,000)
  • 2017: Exploring the digital potential of rural areas, led by Rural England CIC and commissioned by Amazon UK (PI, value to SRUC approx. £15,000)
  •  2017: Seasonal Migrant Workers in Scottish Agriculture, commissioned by Scottish Government (Co-I, £83,000)
  • 2016-17: A better future for Europe’s rural regions, commissioned by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (Co-I, approx. £2,500)
  • 2016: A study of rural proofing in the UK, commissioned by the Swedish Agency for Growth Analysis for the Rural Committee of the Swedish Parliament (Co-I, approx. £10,000)

Previous employer

Jan 06 – Jun 10: Lecturer in Rural Development, Centre for Rural Economy (CRE), Newcastle University

Mar 05 – Dec 05: Research Associate, CRE, Newcastle University

Aug 03 – Dec 04: Research Adviser (Regional Influencing), Evidence and Analysis, The Countryside Agency, Cheltenham

Nov 99 – Jul 03: Research Assistant (PT), The Arkleton Centre for Rural Development Research, University of Aberdeen (included work on the EU Framework IV project “Dynamics of Rural Areas, DORA”)

Jun 98 – Mar 02: Contract Researcher, The Scottish Executive Central Research Unit

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Networking in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland: A Case Study of the Embeddedness of Firms in Three Small Towns, University of Aberdeen

Award Date: 30 Sept 2015

Master, Geography and International Relations

Award Date: 30 Jun 1998


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