Our work covers a multitude of different research themes, with the underlying aim of exploring how innovative solutions can create more sustainable, collaborative and democratic marine management approaches. The work of our researchers has been presented at research conferences and published in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals. Check out the bios of our members below, and click on their photo to read more about their research experience, current work and publications. To reach out to any of our researchers, click on their email address or social media links in their profile.


Senior Lecturer - Head of MSSRG

Wesley is a Senior Lecturer in the School of the Natural and Built Environment (SNBE)  at Queen's University, Belfast. Wesley is the creator and head of the MSSRG. He leads many of our large-scale projects and is the primary supervisory for many of our PhD and Post-Doc students. He has published extensively on the topic of marine spatial planning in recent years and is an associate editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science.



Brendan is a Professor of Urban Planning at Queen’s University Belfast. He has written and researched widely on place contestation, marine heritage and social economics and teaches on built heritage and planning at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Professor Murtagh is currently involved in a number of research projects led by Dr. Wes Flannery on: marine heritage (EU Horizon 2020); transitions processes in ports (EU INTERREG); and on the future of small Irish Ports (Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland).


Geraint is a Professor in the School of Natural and Built Environment and Director of Sustainable Built Environment at Queen's University, Belfast. His key research interests are in planning and sustainability, renewable energy, planning governance and healthy urban planning. He has published widely on these topics and is a Co-Editor of the Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning.

Post-Doc Researcher


Christina is a research fellow from Ireland. Currently, she is working on the Interreg project titled ‘Maritime, Ocean Sector and Ecosystem Sustainability (MOSES)’  which involves developing best practice in port and shipping governance, coastal transition management, marine and coastal planning and stakeholder participation.

Post-Doc Researcher


Laura is an experienced postdoctoral research fellow from Scotland. Currently, her research specialises on natural and cultural heritage, participatory mapping, sustainable development, and tourism. Laura is working on the Horizon 2020 funded coastal heritage project PERICLES, which aims to promote sustainable, participatory governance of heritage in European coastal and maritime regions.

PhD Student


Maria is a PhD student in the Department of Planning of the School of Natural and Built Environment (SNBE) at Queen’s University Belfast and a Cullen Fellow of the Marine Institute (Ireland). Her current research focuses on public perspectives of coastal landscapes and pressures from blue growth and tourism.

PhD Student


Jane is a PhD graduate from Northern Ireland. Her research, funded by the Northern Irish Department for Economy, focused on the role of UK marine spatial planning (MSP) in facilitating climate change mitigation and adaptation through the transition to a low carbon economy. Jane has also worked on the MOSES project.



PhD Student


Ben is a research student from Northern Ireland. His PhD investigates the transformative potential of marine citizen science. Funded by the Department for Economy, Ben is interested in participatory research and the degree to which it can challenge the undemocratic elements of marine governance. Ben is also a Research Assistant on the LiftWEC project, and has previously worked on the FAIRCoast and MOSES project, funded by the EU Interreg Atlantic V Programme.


PhD Student


Sheck Sherif is a native of Bong County, Liberia. Supervised by Dr. Wesley Flannery and Professor Brendan Murtagh, Sheck’s Ph.D. research funded by Conservation International (CI) focuses on critically examining the functioning of fishery and mangrove CPRs in Liberia. Working across a wide range of governance, conservation, development and management issues, he has been pivotal to the reform and revitalization of the fisheries sector of Liberia.



PhD Student

Nuala Carr is a native of Donegal, Ireland. She is currently undertaking a PhD, through the INTERREG funded Bryden Centre for Advanced Marine and Bio-Energy Research. Nuala's research examines public perception of renewable energy, currently focusing on coastal communities across Ireland.

PhD Student


Jonathan is a Northern Irish researcher, examining the implementation of EU water policy, International flood risk management, Urban/Rural Sociology and Hydrology. His most recent publication is 'Discourse and practice of participatory flood risk management in Belfast, UK'.


PhD Student

Brendan is a PhD student from Devon, England. Supervised by Dr. Wesley Flannery, Prof. Geraint Ellis and Prof. John Barry, he began his PhD in 2020 and seeks to examine the impacts of blue growth strategies on coastal communities, and tests how an alternative blue de-growth framework can act as a driver for a just transition in these areas.


Below is a list of visiting researchers and alumni. Short-term placements offer great opportunities to engage with our team, exchange knowledge and expertise, and grow our network further. Thus far, we have hosted two academic researchers, while some of our own students have also enjoyed placements in other universities. Check out the bios of our visiting researchers below, and click on their photo to read more about their research experience and current work. Hosting researchers is something which we are keen to further explore, so please get in contact with us if you are keen to learn more.

PhD Graduate


Ibama is a Nigerian researcher who recently completed his PhD studies at Queen's University Belfast. His research examined the power relations in natural disaster management and resilience capacities among vulnerable groups.

Associate Professor

Natașa is an associate professor from Bucharest, working in the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Agricultural Sciences, Ovidius University Constanta. Natașa is also a researcher at the University of Bucharest. Her research interests include Marine Spatial Planning, ocean governance and coastal and wetland management. Funded by COST Action, Natașa spent time with our network working on ideas for future publications.


PhD Graduate

Sondra Eger visited the Marine Social Sciences Research Group  in early 2019 as an Ireland-Canada University Foundation James Flaherty research scholar. Sondra recently completed a PhD at the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.