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Anna Barford BA MA Ph.D

Senior Research Associate, Bye Fellow at Murray Edwards College

Circular economy, Youth Employment, Living Wages, Austerity, and Inequality



  • 2019-present: Senior Research Assocaite, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, University of Cambridge.
  • 2018-2020: College Lecturer in Geography, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge.
  • 2016-2019 : College Lecturer in Geography, Girton College, University of Cambridge.
  • 2015-2018: Research Associate, Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
  • 2013-2014: Research Associate, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.
  • 2011-2012: Research Associate & Study Co-ordinator on The Melanoma Interview Project, Institute of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge.
  • 2011: Visiting Research Fellow, The Equality Trust and York Fairness Commission.
  • 2010-2011: Researcher for School Report Survey, School Report, Television Centre at White City, BBC.
  • 2005-2007: Research Assistant, Worldmapper Project, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield.
  • 2005: Intern, Department of HIV/AIDS, World Health Organisation, Geneva.


  • Ph.D in Geography, University of Sheffield
  • MA in Sociology and Social Research, University of Nottingham
  • BA in Geography, University of Cambridge

College positions

  • Director of Studies for Geography at Girton and Murray Edwards Colleges (2016-2020)
  • Fellow and College Lecturer in Geography at Girton College (2016-2019)
  • Bye Fellow at Murray Edwards College (2015-2019)
  • Director of Studies for Geography at Homerton College (2014-2015)

Funding and awards

  • Prince of Wales Fellowship in Global Sustainability, funded by Unilever. 2019-2022.
  • Seed funding from the School of Technology, University of Cambridge. 2021.
  • Asian Development Bank grant. Held with Restless Development, for research in Nepal and Indonesia, into: Youth-specific livelihoods impacts and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020-2021.
  • British Academy Youth Futures grant: Peak Youth, Climate Change and the Role of Young People in Seizing their Future. In partnership with Makerere University (Uganda) and Restless Development (Uganda). 2020-2021.
  • Global Challenges Research Fund Impact Acceleration Account NGO Data ESRC-4: ‘Understanding the experiences of young people making a living in low-income countries’. Collaborative analysis of an international youth consultation, with Co-PI Rosanne Palmer-White from partner NGO Restless Development. 2018.
  • Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme 2017/18 Round 2: ‘Peak youth and work in low-income countries’, University of Cambridge. 2018.
  • Returning Carers Scheme, University of Cambridge. 2018.
  • Shortlisted for the category Best Supervisor in the Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, in the Cambridge University Student-Led Teaching Awards. 2018.
  • Returning Carers Scheme, University of Cambridge. 2015.
  • Roberts Funding, University of Sheffield, to support placement at The Equality Trust. 2011.
  • Buckley Summer Scholarship to attend the ‘Inequality and Social Change in Britain and the United States’ workshop of ‘Social Change: A Harvard – Manchester initiative’. 2010.
  • Gold Award from the U.K. Geographical Association for ‘The atlas of the real world’, 2009.
  • Dudley Stamp Memorial Trust research grant, Royal Geographical Society, 2009.
  • PhD funded by U.K. Economic and Social Research Council’s +3 Studentship, 2007.
  • Award for Excellence in Leading Geography from the U.K. Geographical Association, 2007.
  • MA full scholarship, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, 2004.
  • David Richards Travel Scholarship & Vacation Study Grant for fieldwork in Nepal, University of Cambridge, 2003.
  • Sidney Sussex College Downham Yeomans Scholarship, Univ. of Cambridge, 2003.


Currently I am working on two projects which concern the intersection of the economy, society and policy. One project looks at the youth employment challenge of lower income countries, where most young people are underemployed and are in working poverty. Taking a two-pronged approach I seek to understand youth experiences and aspirations surrounding work, as well as which obstacles they confront. Drawing on young people’s perspectives on their own work, I seek to assess the structural causes and policy tools available to address this. This work is done in collaboration with colleagues from Cambridge and from the International NGO Restless Development. We are supported by funding from the ESRC and University of Cambridge.

I am also researching Regimes of Austerity: Economic Change and the Politics of Contraction. This research examines the politics of austerity in British and North American cities as they respond to recession, recovery, fiscal uncertainty, growing economic inequality, and changing policy demands. With Principal Investigators Dr Mia Gray and Dr Betsy Donald, I will: (1) Examine how inequality and the politics around the distribution of public resources have changed at the local level in mid-sized British cities over the last twenty years. (2) Investigate how a city’s economic, demographic and political base can shape the newer politics of austerity. (3) Consider how economic change, inequality and the politics of redistribution inform traditional theories of urban political and economic geography. This builds on my earlier work mapping inequalities, analysing discourses about socio-economic inequality, and engaging with the work of The Equality Trust.

Some of my earlier research has a specific health focus. I researched the history of infectious diseases amongst forced migrants, drawing data from population displacements around the world, as part of a team working on a project entitled Humanitarian Crises, Population Displacement and Epidemic Disease 1901-2010. This research was headed by Geography Professors Matthew Smallman-Raynor and Andy Cliff. I have also worked at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Public Health, investigating pathways to diagnosis for melanoma patients, with Dr Fiona Walter.

My Ph.D was concerned with attitudes towards international inequality amongst people positioned differently along a spectrum of wealth. I ran discussion groups with teachers in Kenya, Mexico and the UK to access the discourses surrounding inequality that exist in these diverse settings. This was complemented by a statistical analysis of world attitude surveys.

Prior to beginning my PhD I worked on a world mapping project which produced hundreds of cartograms (apparently distorted world maps) to show variables ranging from to wealth distribution, to species at risk of extinction, to commuting times. This resulted in the publication of The Atlas of the Real World: mapping the way we live. These maps can be freely accessed at:


[Publications will load automatically from the University’s publications database…]


  • PhD supervisor to Kate Brockie and Grace Mueller, Department of Geography, 2021 onwards.
  • MSt in Sustainability Leadership Lecturer and Dissertation Supervisor at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, 2016 onwards.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, awarded in 2017.
  • University of Cambridge Undergraduate Lectures in Geography from 2017 onwards, including: Austerity and Affluence; Human Geography Research and Analysis Skills; and Geographies of Global Urbanism.
  • University of Cambridge Undergraduate Supervisions in Geography from 2012 onwards, including: Human Geography, Austerity and Affluence, Dissertation Research Groups, Individual Dissertation, and The Geographies of Global Urbanism (II).
  • University of Nottingham Graduate Lectures for the MA in Public Health in 2014 and 2015, on International health inequalities, with a case study of the 2010- Haitian cholera epidemic.
  • University of Cambridge Lectures for Sutton Trust Summer School on Geography. 2011 & 2017.
  • University of Northampton Undergraduate Guest Lectures on Development, in 2009 & 2010.
  • University of Sheffield Undergraduate Workshop Leader and Facilitator of Research Design, 2007-2010.
  • Sixth Form Lectures in several schools and colleges in Kenya, Mexico and the UK, 2009.