Early-Stage-Researchers

Barraí Hennebry

I am the holder of a BSc in International Development and Food Policy and a Masters of Economic Science, both from University College Cork. I also hold a Higher Diploma in Economic Science from the National University of Ireland, Galway. During my studies I had the opportunity to work for a number of NGOs in different countries, including a six-month internship working for a microfinance institution in rural Haiti and three months for a grassroots organisation in Punjab, India. In both instances I worked on monitoring and evaluating projects. After completing my masters, I worked for the county council in Kerry. My position was as a graduate economist working within the economic development unit. A large part of my role here was research orientated. I used census data to create socio-economic profiles of towns in Kerry. I also worked on public consultation by surveying residents of towns to create proposed actions for local area plans. After a brief stint as a data analyst for KPMG I joined the RurAction project. My research project 

Georgios Chatzichristos

I started my studies with Physics only to move a year later to Economics. I hold an Economics degree from the University of Macedonia, an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and a second MA in Philosophy from King’s College London. Interdisciplinary education and research have always constituted a priority for me.
My first engagement with the issues of regional development and social economy came with my bachelor thesis in Economics “Development as Self-Management”. I soon realised that the multifaceted occurrence of social economy requires an interdisciplinary approach to be addressed. Thus, my following postgraduate studies came as an endeavour to expand my interpretative lens. At the same time, I tried to enrich a strong mathematical and statistical background with a constant critical stance. This deep belief to a disciplinary permeability and an interest in research led me to RurAction, a fruitful field for a conjugation of the two to flourish. My research project 

Sune W. Stoustrup

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Planning Studies and Communication Studies from Roskilde University, Denmark and a master’s degree from the 4CITIES Master Programme in Urban Studies (jointly organised by Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Universität Wien, Copenhagen University, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Universidad Complutense de Madrid). Here I graduated based on the thesis: “European Spatial Planning – From Policy to Project in Budapest and Vienna”, where I analysed the implementation and consequences of EU co-financing of urban projects in the two cities. Living, studying and researching in so many different countries made me acutely aware just how diverse the EU really is, and furthermore, how fruitful it is to carry out comparative research in an international setting.

One of my research interests is the territorial cohesion of society – both in a national and international context. While cities seem to be getting all the attention these days (for many good reasons), rural areas are in many ways forgotten both in the media and in politics. As polarisation between city and countryside seems to be rising, voices “from the periphery” are also seen to be growing stronger. As such I find the opportunity to research this through the RurAction ITN project perfect. Before coming to the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space where I am hosted, I have presented at the Nordic Geographers Meeting 2017 on a session on Territorial Cohesion: Between Past and Future, and at the conference for European Urban Research Association 2017, at the session for Europeanisation, cities and urban policies. Additionally I have edited and contributed to the book Cities: Changes, Places, Spaces (University of Vienna, 2017). My research project 

Mara van Twuijver

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Business Studies and a master’s degree in Strategic Management, both from Tilburg University in the Netherlands. After graduating from university, I successfully gained a place on the multi-company development programme run by ORMIT, a specialist in traineeship. In this graduate programme, I completed assignments for three different companies in the Netherlands while receiving training and coaching through ORMIT. A very rich experience at the start of my career. After finishing the programme, I realised that my love for research was not met in any of the organisations I had worked in so far.
My search for a combination of research and practice led me to the Dutch institute for applied scientific research (TNO). Here, I conducted (applied) scientific research and consulting assignments for both governmental and private organisations. Together with my colleagues, I worked on developing, testing and implementing scientific based interventions aimed at an inclusive labour market and sustainable regional development. It was here that my interest in regional development and social entrepreneurship grew. So when the opportunity came by to conduct PhD research on this topic I did not hesitate to grab it. My wish to be able to dedicate more time to this topic and simultaneously develop my research skills further are completely met by the position of an early stage researcher in the RurAction consortium. My research project 

Sunna Kovanen

Before joining RurAction, I studied human geography at the University of Eastern Finland and at the University of Turku. Perhaps thanks to my background in Finnish Lapland, I have been interested in the questions of regional development and local livelihood strategies in the peripheries throughout my studies. I approach them, however, as global challenges from the perspective of political economy. Therefore, I have also engaged in social and solidarity economy networks in Finland and Germany in civil life and professionally. Furthermore, I have been working in non-governmental organisations dealing with migration and civic education as well as in the EU-office of East and North Finland in Brussels. Most recently I accomplished a traineeship in financial management in a cooperative, which provides financial advisory and crowdfunding platform for social enterprises in Finland. The aim was to enhance my practical skills in social enterprise management, but I also participated in developing advisory, advocacy and community funding instruments. I have been participating and presenting at different conferences in Finland and internationally, as well as publishing texts on research dissemination platforms among others. My research project 

Lucas Olmedo

I hold a “Licenciatura” (300 ECTS) in Sociology by Universidad Complutense de Madrid-UCM (Spain), Master’s in International Migration and Ethnic Relations by Malmö University (Sweden) and in Teacher’s Training for Secondary and Vocational Education by Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia-UNED (Spain). Before taking this position as an early stage researcher of the RurAction project, I worked as a research assistant within interdisciplinary teams in national and international projects in the fields of migration, gender relations and public health at the Department of Research Methodology and Communication Theory (Faculty of Sociology – Universidad Complutense de Madrid), and at the Department of Social Psychology (Faculty of Psychology – Universidad de Sevilla). Besides this, I have also been working for several years as a project manager within the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), as a pollster and bell-boy and have volunteered in various NGOs related to migration. Along my career, I have always tried to combine research and practice experiences as I firmly believe in the role of social science as one of the drivers that should fight for improving social justice and equality within societies. My research project 

Jamie-Scott Baxter

I am an architect, teacher and researcher. My work gravitates around urban, and more recently, rural spatial development projects in disadvantaged regions in the U.K. and internationally. In parallel to practice, I have taught as a senior lecturer in London architecture schools where I developed a teaching-learning program integrating practice, research and co-production methods with communities and postgraduate students addressing specific socio-spatial challenges. I firmly believe in the rich synergy between interconnecting practice, research and teaching and attempt to work at the nexus of these spheres. This led me to join the Leibniz-Institut für Raumbezogene Sozialforschung (IRS) and Technische Universität Berlin in October 2017 to write my doctoral thesis. I graduated from the Glasgow School of Art, Macintosh School of Architecture with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (RIBA part I), and went on to receive a Professional Diploma in Architecture (RIBA II) under Professors Florian Beigel and Philip Christou, and Professional Practice in Architecture (Part III) from London Metropolitan University, Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design. During this time I co-founded and sat on the board of a local civil society organisation which went on to become a registered charity and shortlisted for the Small Charity of the Year Award. More recently, I have participated in academic conferences in Hannover and Oxford. At the Leibniz Universität Hannover, I presented a contribution on social innovation and spatial transformation in rural regions, entitled: “We’re all it together”. At Oxford Brookes University, my contribution addressed innovation in higher education and research mapping methodologies in the city, entitled: “(Audio-visually) Mapping Redbridge”. I have lectured and curated various exhibitions in London and the U.K., and my collaborative work has been published in architectural and urban design journals and led to national awards. I am currently a member of the Einstein Research Group, NYLON hosted at the Georg Simmel Centre for Metropolitan Studies and part of an international network of urban research groups. I am also a member of the EMES international network for research on social entrepreneurship. My research project 

Susanne Kalka

I hold a Master’s degree in sociology from the University of Potsdam in Germany and a Bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg in Germany. As part of the Erasmus programme, I studied at the Institut d’Études Politiques in Grenoble in France.

My research focus is on qualitative methods of social science and gender studies. Before my PhD position I worked as a research assistant at the Chair of Sociology of Gender at the University of Potsdam in a Franco-German research project. There I have analysed the historic change of gender (in-)equalities in the German labour market by the ongoing discourses of the parental leave system in Germany. Furthermore, I have worked several years at the Online Fundraising department of the organisation Doctors without Borders in Berlin.
What mainly excites me about the RurAction Project is its close connection between academic institutions and social enterprises. Additionally, it is an important component for me to build up a broad international network between different institutions, researchers and entrepreneurs. I consider the European Training Network RurAction as a great opportunity to set on my academic career by gaining work experience in an international working environment and benefitting from a great interdisciplinary network. Therefore, I want to make my own contribution towards filling a part of the research gap on the connection between social innovations and rural development. My research project 

Marina Novikova

I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Studies in European Societies from Saint Petersburg State University (SPBU) in Russia. While doing my master’s, I had a chance to take part in a think tank, ‘European politics’, which was a cooperative project between the Radboud University of Nijmegen and Saint Petersburg State University, dedicated to the credibility of the UNESCO World Heritage List. The main goal of the research project was to understand how different cultural, national, and political contexts influence the understanding and perception of the credibility of the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the role those contexts play in the decision-making process. After being a part of an international team working both on a research paper and a policy paper with recommendations for the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO, I had a chance to work in an Berlin-based NGO World Heritage Watch that promotes greater knowledge about UNESCO World Heritage. While doing so, World Heritage Watch also contributes to the sustainable development of World Heritage sites. During my work, I had a chance to work on the strategies for cooperation between the local population, government and non-profit organisations dealing with local development and heritage protection, as well as the promotion of NGO’s rights in decision-making around UNESCO World Heritage sites. That was when I got to know the importance of the endogenous development, and the role that innovative solutions play in community development. Later on, the understanding of the importance of both national and local contexts (be it political, cultural, economic, social) and the way they shape decision-making in regional development was one of the main drivers for me to start my PhD, together with the desire to work both on the research and the practical implementation of its results in the field of innovative solutions and regional development. My research project