Professor Lesley Henderson

Professor Of Science Communication

Journalism, Media and Communication

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Personal statement

Lesley Henderson is Professor of Science Communication and was recruited under the Global Talent Programme to drive cross University interdisciplinary research.  Since joining Strathclyde in 2022 she has set up the innovative doctoral training centre in Social Dimensions of Plastics: Communications, Behaviours and Social Change, partnering with Professor Paul Flowers (Psychology) sustainable business, NGOs and Innovate UK/NERC to train the next generation of interdisciplinary plastics pollution researchers and build a transformational hub of research capacity. She has also hosted an EARTH scholarship doctoral student (Australia, SGSAH/British Council) to explore gamification, plastics and behavioural change.

Lesley completed her PhD in the Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Glasgow and has held various research and teaching posts at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Brunel University London where she provided strategic leadership and founded the Sustainable Plastics Research group (SPlasH) as well as hosting 2 Blue Charter Fellowship scholars to explore the global context of plastic pollution in Nigeria and Sri Lanka (funded by the Association of Commonwealth Universities). Over the past 25 years she has built an extensive track record in externally funded research which explores the interlinked areas of science, public health, and environmental communications (previous projects funded by AHRC, ESRC, The Wellcome Trust). She is an expert in leading interdisciplinary challenge focused work packages on public perceptions of (micro)plastics and behavioural change and Co-I on current projects in Indonesia, UK, Spain and Germany (NERC/GCRF/UKRI/European Space Agency (total 4.5 million GBP). She has over 100 peer reviewed articles, books, chapters, OA contributions and policy reports (h-index 24, i-10 index 32, citations 2423) and is author/lead editor of:  Communicating Plastics Pollution: Making of an Environmental Crisis (forthcoming, Routledge); Media Analysis and Public Health: Contemporary Issues in Critical Public Health (Routledge); Television news, Politics and Young People: Generation Disconnected? (Palgrave Macmillan) and Social issues in Television Fiction (Edinburgh University Press).

Lesley contributes to international policy on marine litter, plastics pollution and microplastics for the EU, DEFRA, UN and was a member of the SAPEA working group on microplastics, Rapporteur for Social and Behavioural Sciences Perspectives on Communicating Microplastics (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities) and co author of the influential report 'Microplastics in Nature and Society' (2019). Her research has been used to prioritise the cultural context of plastics use, media framing of the problem and role of communications in behaviour change. This has influenced European regulation (SAPEA) and EU policy (Circular Economy Action Plan) and led plastic-free oceans becoming a ‘cross-cutting priority’ for the European Commission.

Professor Henderson is member of the new UKRI Interdisciplinary Assessment College peer review college, European Science Foundation, UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab and panel member for strategic interdisciplinary UKRI and Science Foundation Ireland programme calls (EPSRC, NERC). She has been invited to provide independent scientific advice for industry and business and was an invited member of the British Standards Institution steering group which codeveloped specifications for the Design, implementation, and maintenance of voluntary agreements (Sponsor Innovate UK). Other contributions include acting as scientific advisor on the award winning adventure documentary film "A Plastic Ocean" (Netflix), advising on children's global awareness films "Litter Things Matter" (Wastebuster for UN World Environment Day) and writing regularly for the BMJ and The Conversation as well as invited public talks (e.g. Edinburgh International Festival). She was a founding member of Cost of Living (an academic blog funded by the BSA Medical Sociology group to engage wider publics in Sociological research) and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Critical Public Health (Editor Prof. Judith Green, Exeter) and Microplastics and Nanoplastics (Editor in Chief, Prof. Bart Koelmanns, Wageningen- the first interdisciplinary inclusive journal dedicated to microplastics).

She welcomes PhD applications which focus on science and environmental communications

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Professional Activities

SETAC Europe 34th Annual Meeting, 2024
Chair
5/5/2024
Can community engagement solve the ocean plastics problem?
Organiser
14/3/2024
SSPP: Shaping the Future of Plastics Research
Organiser
25/1/2024
Strathclyde 2030 Strategic Plan Launch
Speaker
17/1/2024
SGSAH (External organisation)
Advisor
2024
Public perceptions of plastics recycling (NEXTLOOPP)
Speaker
22/11/2023

More professional activities

Projects

EMBER: Exchanging insights on media and behavioural change to reduce open burning in East JavA
Henderson, Lesley (Academic)
Awarded £25,643 for project from International Science Partnerships Fund. Open burning of waste is a global problem particularly in LMICs where there is a lack of waste management infrastructure however the problem is unlikely to be solved through technical means alone. EMBER draws on the tools of Humanities and Social Sciences in relation to media and behavioural change to apply innovative research insights to the problem which foreground the heterogeneity of audiences and role of media in shaping behaviours and understandings
22-Jan-2024 - 31-Jan-2024
Popular Storytelling to Reduce Plastic Waste: Behavioural Change, Sustainability and Young People
Henderson, Lesley (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2023 - 31-Jan-2026
Healthy Reusables? Challenges and Opportunities in NHS settings
Henderson, Lesley (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2023 - 31-Jan-2025
Communicating (Micro)plastics: Science and media myths in a changing landscape
Henderson, Lesley (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2023 - 31-Jan-2026
SCDT Social Dimensions of Plastics: Communications, Behaviours and Social Change
Henderson, Lesley (Principal Investigator)
Set up the new Centre and leveraged funding from NERC (£52,886k) Wastebuster & FSG Packaging (£84k) and match funding from the Centre to support 3 students for 3.5-4 years. Topics are: Popular Storytelling to Reduce Plastic Waste: Behavioural Change, Sustainability and Young People; Healthy Reusables? Challenges and Opportunities in NHS settings; Communicating (Micro)plastics: Science and media myths in a changing landscape. This Centre will strengthen capacity building for the next generation of plastics research leaders building a community of scholars focused on interdisciplinary approaches to the plastics crisis. The plastics challenge is complex and requires the triple helix approach to innovation systems to bring together industry, government, and higher education to identify spaces of consensus and achieve systemic change. There is a pressing need for doctoral researchers to be equipped with novel interdisciplinary skills required to meet global challenges and our students will be uniquely placed to take up research posts in the forthcoming international portfolio of plastics related grants at ease with collaborating across academic disciplines, sectors and nations as formulating sustainable solutions to plastics pollution has become an integral part of the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
01-Jan-2023 - 31-Jan-2027
Social Dimensions of Plastics: Providing Innovate UK funding for a studentship in Plastics, Communications, Behaviours and Social Change
Henderson, Lesley (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2023 - 31-Jan-2026

More projects

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Contact

Professor Lesley Henderson
Professor Of Science Communication
Journalism, Media and Communication

Email: lesley.henderson@strath.ac.uk
Tel: Unlisted