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Kerry Waylen

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Staff picture: Kerry Waylen
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
+44 (0)1224 395313

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK

Kerry Waylen is a senior researcher working in the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences (SEGS) research group at the James Hutton Institute.  Kerry has a background in both the natural and social sciences, and field experience in several countries, in both the 'Global North' and 'Global South'. She researches the challenges of implementing new concepts for conservation and water management, inspired by the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals and informed by ideas from political ecology, environmental governance and Science and Technology Studies.  Her work aims to inform and enable equitable and sustainable management of our complex socio-ecological systems.  She also curates the SEGS blog.

Current research interests 

Kerry's main ongoing research projects

  • Exploring narratives underpinning European policies and how these affect outcomes of environmental management, within the project MAGIC 'Moving Towards Adaptive Governance in Complexity: Informing Nexus Security', running 2016-2020 and funded by EU H2020.
  • Identifying how current institutional arrangements shape (or constrain) the consideration of tradeoffs and delivery of multiple services from different settings, and exploring opportunities to use new instruments such as Payments for Ecosystem Services.  This is funded by the Scottish Government RESAS Strategic Research Programme 2016-2021. Website coming soon.
  • Managing a package of work on 'Effective Water Management', and within this leading work to identify lessons in integrating delivery of water policy goals from international examples.  This is funded by the Scottish Government RESAS Strategic Research Programme 2016-2021. Website coming soon.

Her research is motivated by the following research questions:

  • When might it make sense to adopt new concepts and instruments for environmental management? How can we we best understand the challenges and consequences of implementing such new concepts, especially those (such as the 'Ecosystem Approach') that encourage a systemic approach to connect multiple issues?
  • How are different knowledges produced and used in collaboration and decision-making for environmental management? If and how do concepts (such as ecosystem services) or tools (such as scenario-planning) influence processes of knowledge co-production, including in science-policy interfaces?
  • How can we better enable stakeholder participation in environmental management, including Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) in developing countries?  What are the multiple social and environmental consequences of doing so?

Kerry's expertise includes the following skills for carrying out, managing and communicating research:

  • Qualitative research methods e.g. semi-structured interviews, participant observation, Rapid Rural Appraisal, qualitative thematic analysis using both inductive and deductive approaches.
  • Quantitative research methods e.g. design, deployment and quantiative analysis of paper and online surveys for primary data collection, design and deplyment of systematic reviews and meta-analyses to identify and analyse secondary data
  • Extensive experience in leading design and facilitation of workshops for knowledge exchange and/or research data collection.
  • Skilled in engaging and communicating with varied audiences using varied methods, from short written briefings, longer reports and academic papers, through to videos, oral presentations and blog posts.
  • Expertise in research project management, line management, student supervision, and research ethics.

Kerry is a trustee of the Orskov Foundation, a charitable foundation that supports students and communities to develop sustainable land use to support livelihoods in lower-income countries. She is also a research associate of CECHR, the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience at Dundee.

Past research 

Examples of research projects exploring institutional constraints to adopting more systemic and/or participatory approaches to environmental management

Examples of research projects exploring the potential of new tools and concepts to aid sustainable development:

  • Past work jointly leading research with Kirsty Blackstock to understand the potential and challanges of implementing the Ecosystem Approach, funded by the Scottish Government RESAS Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016.  Click here to visit the webpage of the Ecosystem Approach Review. This work also relates to the ideas of exploring the challenges multi-level governance as noted above, and of communication as noted below.
  • Together with Andrew Ainslie at the University of Reading, Kerry jointly supervises a PhD Student Sam Poskitt, who is exploring the process and consequences of scenario-planning for supporting sustainable development,

Examples of research projects to analyse processes of knowledge co-production relating to environmental management:

  • Kerry co-led WP2 for the FP7 project ‘SPIRAL’ (Science Policy Interfaces for Research Action and Learning, for biodiversity) Visit the Project website to find out more about this project, and see the EPC paper and Biodiversity and Conservation paper in the list below for academic outputs she led on.
  • Kerry helped design the ESPPI:CREW project, which aims to monitor and evaluate science-policy and practice links for the Scottish Centre of Expertise in Waters, which has been operating since 2011.  She was also involved in CATCH II – which aimed to try to better connect policy, practitioners working in and for integrated catchment management.

Understanding and tackling the challenges faced by conservation initiatives in the 'Global South':

  • COMET-LA was a EU FP7 project on the Community-based Management of Environmental Challenges in Latin America, that ran 2012-2015.  Kerry was part of a small team exploring if and how scenario-planning can assist communities in Latin America to identify and develop sustainable community-based management for their natural resources in the face of climate change and increased competition for the use of natural resources. Visit our short animated youtube video on scenario-planning for more information about what this concept can offer.
  • Since December 2012 Kerry has supported work in Malawi to support villages and district-level planning for integrated natural resource management.  She has provided expertise to two projects lead by VSO.  The first project called "Water Futures: Towards Equitable Resource Strategies" aimed to improve the resilience of Malawian water management, whilst from late 2014 the second project 'MAJI' focuses on how to take account of climate change.  Kerry, together with Julia Martin-Ortega, provides expertise on community engagement on topics of ecosystem services and for co-constructing scenarios of future change.
  • Kerry’s past PhD work at Imperial College London (2006-2009) focused on understanding social factors linked to success in community-based conservation projects, involving fieldwork in Nepal and Kalmykia, Russia, as well as a systematic review of the factors affecting ‘success’ in developing-country community-based conservation projects. The thesis can be downloaded from the Imperial College Conservation Science website.

Prior to working at the James Hutton Institute Kerry's PhD research, carried out at Imperial College London, examined how the combination of individual views, culture and local institutions could significantly influence the outcomes of community-based conservation in developing countries.  In addition to policy-relevant work with NGOs, her prior academic experience included social research into attitudes towards nature resources in Trinidad, as part of an MSc from Imperial College. Her first degree is a MA in Natural Sciences, from Cambridge University.


Kerry's highlighted publications

Selected other recent academic publications

Examples of briefings and outputs for non-academic audiences

Selected workshop and project reports

Examples of conference presentations

  • Tools, approaches and pathways to reframing conservation for future change. Waylen, K.A. and Dunlop, M. (2015) Conveners of round table discussion. ICCB-ECCB 2015: 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology and 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology, Montpellier, France, 2-6 August 2015. 
  • Could we focus more on the "policy" part of science policy interfaces? Waylen, K.A. and Young, J. (2014) Presentation within session 'Impact by Who, for Who: Science for, with or by Policy (makers)?' RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, 27-29 August 2014.

  • What insights are offered by experiences of the "Ecosystem Approach"? Highlighting the effects of institutional inertia and evolution. Waylen, K.A.and Blackstock, K.L. (2014) Presentation at the Resilience Alliance Conference 2014: Resilience and Development, Mobilising for Transformation, Montpellier, 4-8 May 2014.

  • Societal engagement with European Biodiversity targets: looking for insights from elsewhere. Waylen, K.A. (2013) Invited presentation for session on EU target 1, for ALTER-Net Conference 2013: Science underpinning the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy", Ghent, 15-18 April 2013.

  • Email:
  • Phone: +44 (0)844 928 5428
  • Craigiebuckler Aberdeen AB15 8QH Scotland
  • Invergowrie Dundee DD2 5DA Scotland
A Scottish charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Scotland No SC374831.
Registered office: The James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie Dundee DD2 5DA. Charity No SCO41796

Printed from /staff/kerry-waylen on 28/06/16 10:38:09 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.