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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.


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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.

Research Fellow


Christina is a research fellow from Ireland. Currently, she is the lead researcher working on the Irish EPA-funded project titled ‘Sustainable and Holistic management of Irish Ports (SHIP). The aim of SHIP is to devise recommendations for port sustainability in Irish ports based on in-depth stakeholder engagement. Christina previously worked on the MOSES project. Her interests are in coastal transitions, sustainability, marine governance and environmental planning.


Research Fellow


Ben is a research fellow from Ireland. His key research interest include marine conservation, environmental governance and participatory research. Ben currently works on the MarinePlan project, funded by the EU's Horizon Europe programme. Previously, Ben has worked as a Research Assistant in the LiftWEC project, where he examined the social acceptance of novel and emerging marine renewable energy technologies. Ben has also assisted with work on the FAIRCoast and MOSES projects.

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

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.


PhD Student

Chelsea is a PhD student from Yorkshire, England. Supervised by Dr. Wesley Flannery and Prof. Geraint Ellis. Her work focuses on the evolution of the concept of Blue Growth and its realisation in certain contexts through 'Blue Fixes', such as Marine Protected Areas in Ireland.


Below is a list of alumni who have been members of our group in the past. Many of our alumni have completed a PhD when contributing to the MSSRG, whilst others joined the group when working in Post-Doc positions. To learn more about the research interests, publications and work conducted by our alumni, click on the below profiles. 

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Research Fellow


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 recently worked on the Horizon 2020 funded coastal heritage project PERICLES, which aimed to promote sustainable, participatory governance of heritage in European coastal and maritime regions.


PhD Graduate


Maria is a PhD graduate 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 Graduate


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. Previously, Jane also worked on the MOSES project. Jane is now the Nature Protection Policy Officer for RSPB Northern Ireland, working on protected sites, environmental governance, and post-Brexit environmental standards and regulations.


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. Ibama successfully defended his thesis in 2019.

PhD Graduate


Jonathan is a PhD graduate from Northern Ireland, currently working in the planning sector. His PhD critically examined 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'.


Below is a list of visiting researchers who have spent time within our group. 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.

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.

Yuting Hou
PhD Student


Yuting is a Ph.D. student at Xiamen University, China. His research interests include Transboundary Marine Spatial Planning, the formulation and evaluation of Marine Spatial Planning schemes, public participation and stakeholder engagement in marine governance, and also marine rare species conservation.

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