Meet the Team


Dr. Erin Roberts

Research Associate

Dr Roberts is a Research Associate in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University with a background in Human Geography

Dr Harriet Smith

Research Associate

Dr Harriet Smith is a Research Associate in the School of Psychology, Cardiff University. She has an interdisciplinary background having worked in the geography department at Cardiff University (2018-2021) and prior to that was awarded a PhD in visual sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Dr Smith is experienced in participatory and ethnographic social science methods and has also utilised art practices as a means to engage participants in specific problems and learning outcomes. She has also worked on public engagement projects, impact accelerator research dissemination and public arts workshops.

Professor Nick Pidgeon

Cardiff University, Principal Investigator

Professor Nick Pidgeon is Director of the Understanding Risk Research Group within the School of Psychology at Cardiff University and Professor of Environmental Risk. His research looks at public attitudes, risk perception and public engagement with environmental risks and energy technologies and infrastructures. He is a Fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the British Science Association in 2011 and an MBE in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to climate change awareness and energy security policy.

Professor Karen Henwood

Cardiff University, Principal Investigator

Karen Henwood is a Professor in Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences and Understanding Risk Group. She is a Flexis PI working with Professor Nick Pidgeon (WP17). Her research investigates how it is possible for people to meet the challenges posed to themselves and society by the dynamics of environmental risk and socio-cultural change, including ones connected to wider transitions in energy systems. She has extensive methodological expertise in interpretive research approaches within empirical social science, including innovative forms of stakeholder and public engagement. Her publications report findings from academic research conducted in the field of risk and identity studies. In 2013 she co-authored a foresight policy review with Pidgeon (2013) on Risk and Identity Futures as part of the wider UK Government Office of Science and Technology’s Future of Identities Project. She conducted multiple community case studies within the ESRC’s SCARR (Social Contexts and Responses to Risk) network (2003-2008), and led an in depth longitudinal investigation as co-investigator on the ESRC’s major qualitative longitudinal initiative (Timescapes) (2017-2012). She was PI for an AHRC network Homing in: Sensing, Sense-Making and Sustainable Place-Making (2013-4), collaborating with arts scholars and practitioners and local communities on issues of risk and environmental controversy. She led the Energy Biographies project (2011-2016) within the RCUK’s Energy and Communities joint venture ( This work is now being taken forward as part of Flexis. She is currently also co-lead investigator (with Pidgeon) on the social science work packages within the NERC funded Coastweb project.

Dr Fiona Shirani

Cardiff University, Research Associate

I am a Research Associate in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. I have been working on qualitative longitudinal projects since 2007 with an interest in methodological innovation, in particular, developing techniques to help people talk about the future. Making connections with the future is something people are often expected to do in relation to energy and environmental issues, yet these connections may be difficult to create, maintain or discuss. My research interests include family relationships, life course transitions and the impact these have on people’s planned futures and present lives. From 2011-2015 I worked on the Energy Biographies research project, which explored people’s everyday energy use in the context of their past experiences and anticipated futures. A key aspect of this work was exploring how people’s relationships to others (e.g. as family members, colleagues or friends) influenced energy use. These issues will be taken forward in work on the FLEXIS project, where I will be leading the development of our S2 work stream – System Change and Everyday Life.

Dr Chris Groves

Cardiff University, Research fellow

I am a research fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff. With a background in philosophy and sociology, my research interests focus on how people and institutions negotiate and deal with an intrinsically uncertain future – one that is increasingly imagined against the backdrop of global environmental change and accelerating technological innovation. Along with the ethical and political implications of a range of future-oriented discourses and practices (e.g. risk management, precautionary regulation, and building resilience), my work has examined how our ideas about what it means for individuals and whole societies to take responsibility for their futures change alongside technological transformation. From nanotechnology and personalised genetic testing, to the decarbonisation agenda examined by Energy Biographies and now Flexis, the moral aspects of everyday life and of public policy are shifting alongside efforts to plan and remodel the social and natural worlds. These efforts are shaped by images of more efficiently managed, better governed, ‘smarter’ futures in which people increasingly take more responsibility for a whole range of different aspects of their lives. Building links between qualitative social science and normative ethics can help understand both how technologies and values change alongside each other, and what is really at stake in these imagined futures.
My recent monograph Care, Uncertainty and Intergenerational Ethics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and the earlier Future Matters: Action, Knowledge, Ethics (Brill, 2007), co-authored with Professor Barbara Adam (Social Science, Cardiff University), examines these themes in depth, along with a variety of other recent publications.