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Department of Geography

Current Postgraduate Students

Miss Ruth Machen

Research Postgraduate (PhD) in the Department of Geography
Telephone: 41815 / 41817
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 601

Contact Miss Ruth Machen (email at

Ruth is interested in the science policy interface in the field of climate change and the way in which legitimacy and acceptability are created in public sphere decision making.


Ruth graduated in Geography from Durham in 2003 and pursued an AHRB funded Masters in Landscape and Culture at Nottingham in 2004, specialising in culture-nature theorisation and conducting masters research on comparative sustainable housing. She then spent six years working in economic regeneration, renewable energy and climate change policy; within a local government (and LSP) context in Northeast England. Here, developing climate change and renewable energy strategies and integrating policy at a cross County level provided valuable insights into climate change policy that has informed and stimulated her current research.

Ruth has a longstanding interest in fostering academic-policy collaboration from both sides. Whilst working as a practitioner she worked with Newcastle University to initiate two collaborative research projects, provide PhD case studentship supervision, represent Northumberland Renewable Energy Group interests on the ReFLEX/REEM MSc steering group, and also held a Research Fellowship with the Rural Economic Land Use Programme in 2010.

Current Research

Ruth is currently in her third year of doctoral research exploring the relationship between climate science and climate policy. Her research focusses on epistemological considerations of climate knowledge, considering the processes of exchange that occur between science and policy that are often termed ‘translation’ and the work performed by boundary organisations within this context. Taking Scotland as a case study, she uses a mixed method approach to explore both the tools and processes of exchange employed by 'boundary organisations' and the ways in which these embody and foster particular beliefs and values. Tools and processes become understood as political sites of contestation through which particular beliefs and values are asserted, contested and negotiated. Ruth is particularly interested in the multiple ways in which boundaries are established and transgressed during climate science-policy exchange and in critically interogating the characterisation of the communication process as a one of 'translation'.

Funding and Awards Secured

Ridgewind Scholarship - 2012
Skene Bursary 2012
Durham Doctoral Studentship - 2011-14
DECC Local Carbon Framework Programme (for Northumberland County Council) - 2010
AHRB Masters Scholarship - 2004

Teaching Experience

Academic tutor for level 1 modules in 'Environment and Society' and 'Geographies of Crisis', Demonstration on 'Integrated Research Methods' at level 1, 'Social Research' at level 2 and 'Cities and Climate Change' at level 3 and Writing of course materials and tutorial co-ordination for level 1 'Environment and Society'.