Kath is Assistant Director for Inclusion and Engagement with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Environments Research Exeter (SPHERE). A sociologist with a particular interest in public involvement and community engagement, they work in the European Centre for the Environment and Human Health and facilitate the Health and Environment Public Engagement (HEPE) network. Kath is particularly interested in connecting theoretical understanding of public involvement and engagement to the ways we work in order to ensure that members of the public can access research evidence, and that their priorities are reflected in our research. As a University of Exeter Catalyst engagement champion and NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Research Fellow Kath has worked with a wide range of academic partners and diverse community groups to support engaged research and learning, using stories, games and activities to encourage two-way communication about research.
Kath completed a PhD in 2014 at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry with a thesis entitled ‘Public and Patient Involvement in Theory and in Practice’. This was supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care, PenCLAHRC. Before undertaking that study, Kath had been a founder members of the PenCLAHRC public and patient involvement group (PenPIG) and used personal experience as a carer in lay roles with NIHR funding panels, going on to work with the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility staff to develop training and guidance for other lay members. As a member of the National Community Forum, they took part in a panel which reviewed community involvement across government and as a member of the southwest regional consortium on public engagement, delivered Take Part an initiative providing community based learning and active citizenship support in Exeter and Cornwall.