Ruth Little

Project Info

Role GESA 2015 participant
Nationality British

Project Description

I have a broad range of research interests based around the agro-food system, engaging in debates that incorporate issues from the local to the global scale. Key research themes include food security; sustainable intensification of agriculture; farmer decision-making; understanding and influencing behaviour; animal health and welfare; plant disease management; knowledge exchange; policy development; interdisciplinary research; alternative food networks; short food supply chains; and community food initiatives.

I am currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield, funded by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Future Research Leader grant and focusing on sustainable agricultural systems. I work closely with the UK government Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and world-leading research institutions in North America and mainland Europe to conduct research on animal health and disease management.

Since 2012, I have divided my time between the University of Sheffield and the Animal and Plant Health Evidence and Analysis (APHEA) team within Defra. My main focus has been increasing understanding of the human factors that influence the management of disease in livestock – analysing how and why livestock farmers make their decisions, and how this affects disease control – and piloting innovative approaches to increase involvement of stakeholders and the wider public in decision-making on Animal Health and Welfare Policy.

Previous research positions have included a Post-Doctoral position working as part of a large interdisciplinary team on a Rural Economy and Land Use Programme project Growing Risk? The potential impact of plant disease on land use and the UK rural economy. Before this, I completed my PhD, in collaboration with the Soil Association, on increasing the accessibility and affordability of local and organic foods through collective purchasing schemes.

My goal is to integrate understanding of the human factors that influence the management of disease in livestock into wider debates about how to achieve the sustainable intensification of agriculture.


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