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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Cassandra Phoenix, BSc, PhD, FHEA

Associate Professor in Physical Activity and Health in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences

(email at

Cassandra joined the department in September 2019 from the University of Bath. Prior to that, she held posts at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School.

Her current research takes the form of two inter-related strands. The first focuses on healthy ageing across the life course with respect to the embodied health-related practices, active mobilities, and socio-environmental contexts (e.g. ageism, dis/ablism), that shape people’s ability to live long, healthy lives, and do what they have reason to value as they age. 

The second strand focuses on the connections between health, wellbeing and the environment by examining people’s engagement with and connection to “nature” (e.g. via blue/green spaces, and weather elements). This includes, for example, how nature is accessed, experienced, and given meaning in relation to health and wellbeing across the life course and the ways in which all of this is shaped and constrained by broader social forces and inequalities. 

Underpinning each of these strands is an ongoing commitment to the development of qualitative methods, including collaborations with the artists and creative practitioners.

Cassandra’s research is supported by a range of funders, including the ESRC, Wellcome Trust, World Health Organization, NIHR, Leverhulme Trust, The Nuffield Foundation, Ménière’s Society, HelpAge, and Thomas Pocklington Trust. She is a member of the British Society of Gerontology Executive Committee and serves on the Editorial Boards for: Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health; Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport; Journal of Ageing Studies; and Methods in Psychology.

Google Scholar Profile: 

PhD Supervision

If you are interested in undertaking a PhD under Cassandra’s supervision, she would be delighted to hear about your ideas and to discuss opportunities to work with you at Durham. Cassandra welcomes applications that connect with the research strands outlined above.


Research Groups

Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences

  • Sporting Lives

Research Interests

  • Ageing and Active Mobilities
  • Everyday Ageism
  • Weather and Wellbeing
  • Coastal Blue Space, Health and Wellbeing

Selected Publications

Edited book

Chapter in book

Journal Article


Show all publications


Selected Grants

  • 2019: Wellcome Trust. Living well with weather: Developing an innovative collaboration to explore everyday weather, health, and mental wellbeing. (PI)
  • 2018: World Health Organisation. Review of existing ageism campaigns to inform the Global Campaign to Combat Ageism. (PI)
  • 2015: NIational Institute for Health Research. What are the factors that influence older adults’ engagement in exercise and physical activity? An evidence synthesis of qualitative research and mapping of quantitative reviews. (Co-I)
  • 2014: - 2015. Ménière’s Society. Living with Ménière’s disease: Understanding patient experiences of mental health and well-being. (PI)
  • 2014: -2017: Economic & Social Research Council. More of the same is not enough: New directions in ageing and physical activity. (PI)
  • 2014: RCUK Catalyst Public Engagement Fund. Moving Stories – Moving On: Engaging the public through verbatim theatre. (PI)
  • 2012: The Leverhulme Trust. Artist in Residence (Jonty Lees) (PI)
  • 2012: Thomas Pocklington Trust. Physical activity among older people with sight loss: A qualitative research study to inform policy and practice. (PI)
  • 2011: - 2013: Economic & Social Research Council First Grants Scheme. Moving stories: Understanding the role of physical activity on experiences and perceptions of (self-) ageing. (PI)