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Meet the Team


Professor Nickie Charles

Principal Investigator

Nickie Charles is Director of the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender at the University of Warwick and Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme-funded project ‘Shaping inter-species connectedness’. She has published widely on many aspects of gender including feminist social movements, the gendered division of paid and unpaid work and the refuge movement. She has a long-standing interest in how inter-species relationships are shaped and, in 2009, commissioned a Mass Observation directive which explored different dimensions of human-animal relations. She has investigated inter-species kinship, the circumstances in which animals come to be regarded as kin and whether this indicates the emergence of post-human families. She is also exploring the effects of introducing PAT dogs into universities to reduce stress amongst students and is particularly interested in how the dogs themselves are affected by their experiences. She and Carol Wolkowitz have written a paper which is to be published in Gender, Work and Organization later this year entitled ‘Bringing dogs onto campus: inclusions and exclusions of animal bodies in organisations’.

This new project, ‘Shaping inter-species connectedness: training cultures and the emergence of new forms of human-animal relations’, is an opportunity to consolidate and build on her earlier research into human-animal relations and to engage with a more animal-centred methodology drawing on expertise from disciplines in the social and natural sciences. Nickie has published two books on related topics: Nature, Society and Environmental Crisis (edited with Bob Carter), Wiley Blackwell/The Sociological Review, 2010, and Human and other animals (edited with Bob Carter), Palgrave, 2011.

You can contact Nickie via email: nickie dot charles at warwick dot ac dot uk


Professor Mara Miele


I am professor of Human Geography in the School of Geography and Planning at Cardiff University. I am a cultural geographer interested in animal geography, STS and geographies of science (animal welfare science) as well as food. My research has focused on public understanding of science, the role of public concerns for animal welfare and how these concerns have affected recent advances in animal welfare science and technology, particularly in the field of animal emotions (Mara Miele, 2016, 'The Making of the Brave Sheep or … the Laboratory as the Unlikely Space of Attunement to Animal Emotions', GeoHumanities, 2 (1) 58-75). In the last fifteen years, I have coordinated and participated to several research projects funded by the European Union (Welfare Quality, 2004-2009, Dialrel 2006-2010), looking at animal food consumption practices in Europe, the public understanding of animal welfare issues, religious slaughter and the ethics of eating animal food. I have published my research in Environment and Planning A, Environment and Planning D – Society and Space, and Theory Culture and Society among other journals. My new research monograph, Children, Food and Nature: organizing meals at school (with Monica Truninger), will be published by Routledge.

I have been editor in chief of the International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food from 2006 till 2018 and visiting professor from 2011 till 2015 at the University of Gastronomic Science (Slow-Food) in Bra, Italy.

Since 2013 I have been PGR director and a member of the School Board in the School of Geography and Planning and chair of the animal geography cluster

You can contact Mara via email: MieleM at Cardiff dot ac dot uk


Professor Francoise Wemelsfelder

Project Consultant

Françoise Wemelsfelder is a biologist and Professor of Animal Welfare and Qualitative Science at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in Edinburgh, Scotland UK. Her main research interest is the study and understanding of animals as whole sentient beings (i.e. as subjects rather than objects), bringing insights from philosophy of mind and social psychology and anthropology into the scientific assessment of animal emotion and well-being.

This interest led her to develop a methodology called ‘Qualitative Behaviour Assessment’ (QBA), which enables observers to interpret and quantify the expressive qualities of an animal’s dynamic demeanour or body language, in terms of that animal’s experience and well-being (e.g. relaxed, lively, tense, depressed). Francoise collaborates with colleagues in the UK and around the world to validate and apply QBA, both in academic research and as a practical tool for welfare management in farm, zoo, and companion animals.

Her experience of inter-disciplinary conversation was much enriched by her sabbatical year in 2011 in the department of social anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. Being part of the “Shaping Inter-species Connectedness” project featured on this website is an exciting new step in exploring how we might move between and across disciplines so as to better understand and live with animals.

You can contact Francoise via email: Francoise dot Wemelsfelder at sruc dot ac dot uk


Dr Rebekah Fox

Research Fellow

Rebekah joined the Department of Sociology at Warwick in January 2018 as a Research Fellow on the 'Shaping Inter-species Connectedness' project.

Rebekah is a cultural geographer with a long-standing interest in human-animal relations completing her PhD on ‘The cultural geographies of pet-keeping’ in 2005 and a post-doc on ‘Animals, gender and science: the world of pedigree pet-breeding’ in 2008. She has previously worked at Royal Holloway, Kingston University and Uppsala University in variety of research roles and most recently was the PI on a Waltham funded study entitled ‘Changing Conceptions of Care: The humanisation and medicalisation of the human-companion animal relationship’.

Her research centres on the importance of animals in everyday social and cultural life, including practices of love and care, intimate spaces of the home and family, responsibility, medical treatment of animals, pedigree pet-breeding and showing, migration, animals in public space and more recently on changing cultures of pet-keeping during the late twentieth / early twenty-first century.

She have also worked in the area of health, particularly on women’s experiences of pregnancy and childbirth, parenting, family, gender and food and on cultures of leadership and management in the NHS.

You can contact Rebekah via email: Rebekah dot Fox at warwick dot ac dot uk


Dr Harriet Smith

Research Associate

Harriet joined the School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University, in January 2018 as Research Associate on the 'Shaping Inter-species Connectedness' project.

Harriet studied for her sociology PhD at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her research has concentrated on public engagement practices which aim to encourage feelings of connection with nature, situated within organisations orientated towards animal encounters, such as zoos, city farms, and wildlife parks. She is interested in the performative effects of formally orchestrated inter-species encounters. Harriet’s research utilises inventive methods in order to investigate embodied communication and attunement between humans and other species in everyday contexts. She conducts ethnographic and participatory research utilising photography, video, and drawing.

Harriet completed an MA in Photography and Urban Cultures at Goldsmiths College in 2010; her dissertation was based upon a spatial reading of The London Zoo. She has presented papers at a British Animal Studies Network PhD symposium in Strathclyde 2016; Seeing with Animals, 2017 at Eastern Kentucky University; and at Animals and Social Change at the Centre for Human-Animal Studies (CfHAS) Edge Hill University 2017. She has co-authored a paper entitled ‘Kinship across species: learning to care for nonhuman others’ to be published within a special edition of Feminist Review, forthcoming.

You can contact Harriet via email: SmithH35 at cardiff dot ac dot uk


Janet Smith

Project Admin Support

Janet has provided admin support as a Postgraduate Programmes Officer at the University of Warwick for over ten years and has a Long Service Award pen to prove it.

Janet will be providing two hours per week of admin support for the “Shaping Inter-species Connectedness” project.

You can contact Janet via email: []