The brains of HERA Lab


Lab Director

Rachel Sumner is a psychobiologist and Chartered psychologist specialising in stress and health. She has a strong interest in how interacting with nature can be mutually beneficial, improving human health and ensuring environmental protection. Her work looks at evaluating social prescribing interventions, and understanding how our lived environment gets under the skin to impact health.


PhD Researcher

Sam is a PhD researcher interested in health and wellbeing and how this can be supported, sustained and enhanced in vulnerable populations and groups. Sam is also a research assistant and has been involved in the design, delivery and evaluation of a number of health promoting activities in primary and secondary health care, and in the community.


PhD Researcher

Natasha started her PhD in February 2020 looking into how our connection with nature supports subjective wellbeing and resilience. She also supports the lab as a research assistant for a variety of projects looking at nature and its links to health and wellbeing.


PhD Researcher

Gemma is a PhD researcher interested in how health and wellbeing is affected by human-nature interactions.  As a keen gamer, she is also interested in the potential impact of experiencing these interactions in the virtual world, and how new technologies can be utilised to manage negative aspects of well-being such as stress and anxiety.


PhD Researcher

Sarah started her PhD in February 2021 and will be exploring the novel theory ‘Solidarity Appraisal’ as proposed by Dr Rachel Sumner and Dr Elaine Kinsella as part of the CV19 Heroes project.  Sarah’s research will focus on exploring how frontline workers perception of societal actions impact on their well-being and potential burnout during crises that require all members of society to work together for the collective good.  Sarah is a research assistant on the CV19 Heroes project and is also collaborating on a project looking at the emotional labour of researchers.


Senior Research Fellow

Colin's research interests are concerned with exploring and understanding the role of sport and physical activity and how these impact individuals, communities and policy. He is particularly interested in developing innovative research methodologies that speak to the complexity of modern life and the role of partnerships between diverse organisations.


Professor of Applied Ecology

Anne Goodenough is an ecologist who is interested not only in wildlife but also in how people interact with the natural world. She is especially interested in the way that past experiences and education affect a person’s understanding of challenges to the natural world and conservation action, as well as the impacts of wildlife encounters on human wellbeing, particularly from a physiological perspective.


Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture

Alessio's research passion is driven by the willingness to positively impact cities’ human health and well-being. In particular, his research findings can be used to better design and plan for biophilic cities, to improve environmental quality, to mitigate climate change effects and to increase food security as well as a policy framework for sustainable resilient cities.


Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Kim is a social neuroscientist interested in how a wide range of factors influence behaviours and the underlying neural networks involved. Two areas within Health Psychology of key focus are the use of technology to aid cognitive rehabilitation of brain injury, and the positive role that nature (and, specifically, domestic animals such as horses and dogs) can play in not just overall wellbeing, but also specific health outcomes.


Lecturer in Psychology

Matthew has keen interests in the psychology of physical activity and other health behaviours. Along with this he researches social networks and the influence that relationships have on our lives.


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