Katherine Irvine

Behavioural Social Scientist
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
T: +44 (0)1224 395 397

I am a senior researcher in conservation behaviour / environmental psychology focusing on people-environment relationships. I draw on an interdisciplinary background in molecular biology, natural resource management, conservation behaviour and environmental psychology to investigate the interface between people and their environmental settings (for example, natural, built, home, office) with an aim to develop bridges between issues of ecological quality, health/wellbeing and sustainability.

I joined the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences research group in April 2013 following eight years as a Senior Researcher with De Montfort University’s Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development. I collaborate internationally with colleagues from medicine, ecology, landscape architecture, engineering, industry and other social scientists.

I served on the Economic and Social Research Council peer review college (2010-2015), am a contributor to the UK’s Valuing Nature Network and a visiting research scholar at the University of Michigan with previous visiting appointments at University of Massachusetts and Johns Hopkins University. I was co-author on a highly cited interdisciplinary paper on biodiversity and wellbeing (Fuller, Irvine et al 2007) which was recommended by Faculty 1000 Review and has spawned a new area of research into the potential wellbeing benefits of biodiverse settings.

My research centres on the relationship between people and nature, a relationship conceptualised as bi-directional or socio-ecological, whereby nature does not merely ‘serve’ people but people can also ‘serve’ nature. I specialise in theoretically-grounded applied research using a combination of research designs (for example, quasi-experimental) and methods (qualitative and quantitative; objective) to focus on two research areas.

Understanding, designing and evaluating ways to promote sustainable behaviour

Addressing global environmental problems such as climate change or loss of biodiversity necessitates engagement from all levels of society. Finding ways to meaningfully involve individual citizens in seeking and implementing appropriate and sustainable solutions in their day-to-day lives, and more broadly, has been a long standing research interest.

‘Good’ health / wellbeing benefits from interaction with the natural environment

The intuitive sense that time in nature is good for human wellbeing has a growing body of empirical evidence and is increasingly of policy interest worldwide. Yet reliable, valid measures remain needed as does a firmer understanding of the less tangible dimensions of wellbeing, for example, spiritual or ‘connection to nature’. Similarly, there is much to learn about the development of ‘nature interventions’ that successfully engage people with nature. These interests are being pursued through research on the motivations for use of and wellbeing benefits derived from different environmental settings, including biodiverse; and developing insight into and measures of the spiritual experience of and connection to nature amongst different land managers (for example, farmers, gardeners).

An ongoing collaboration with the University of Michigan (USA) is developing frameworks for evaluating the wellbeing effects of non-clinical health-focused interventions in nature such as group outdoor walks, forest bathing and health retreats.

Past research

Within the UK, projects have been supported by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded research contracts to investigate psychological benefits of biodiversity (EPSRC grant GR/S2059/1, CityForm consortium), mapping and management of household carbon footprints in urban areas (EPSRC grant EP/F007604/2, 4M consortium), and the feasibility of using wireless technology to promote individual-level energy behaviour change in non-domestic settings (EP/1000259/1, Wi-be consortium; ranked first by panel). Additional funded projects have come through Natural Environment Research Council-Valuing Nature Network, Defra, and Big Lottery Fund (Sustainable Harborough Project).

Research in the United States has identified cognitive barriers to land stewardship, developed a behaviour change activity for a zoo setting, and assessed the impact of work breaks in a natural setting ton hospital nurses’ well-being.

Consultancy research includes survey development and analysis of energy consumption patterns for a large-scale energy reduction trial of 15,000 UK households focused on understanding consumer interaction with different behaviour change interventions to provide feedback on energy use (Ofgem-funded Energy Demand Research Project).

PhD Supervision

Rebecca Bell. Dig for Health: Wellbeing and sustainability through urban community gardening. De Montfort University. Collaborative partners: University of Michigan (USA), Saffron Acres Community Garden, Leicester, UK. Current.

Carl Holland. Greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies: attitudinal and social network influences on employee acceptability. Collaborative partner: De Montfort University’s Sustainable Development Committee. Current.

Ruth Kelly. Electrochromic glazing: User experience in a daylit office. De Montfort University. Collaborative partners: Loughborough University, Sangobain. Current.

Melissa Marselle. Growing resilience through interaction with nature. De Montfort University. Collaborative partners: University of Michigan (USA), Natural England, UK. Current.

Richard Snape. Household behaviour and learning of electricity consumption in the context of a smart grid. De Montfort University. Current.

Jill Fisher. Promoting low carbon lifestyles: addressing information needs through small group participation. De Montfort University. Awarded 2013.

Thomas White. Attitudes towards climate change: Knowledge structure and the role of interventions in attitude change. De Montfort University. Awarded 2011.

Caroline Wilson. The role of communication in encouraging sustainable behaviour. De Montfort University. Awarded 2011.

Andrew Wallace. Reducing carbon emissions by households: the effect of footprinting and personal carbon allowances. De Montfort University. Awarded 2009.

Claudia Bernardini. Urban sustainability: the role of place identity and environmental representation in the relationship between people and nature. De Montfort University. Awarded 2007.


Prior to appointment


  • Fisher, J.C.; Nawrath, M.; Dallimer, M.; Irvine, K.N.; Davies, Z.G. (2024) Connecting biodiversity and human wellbeing, In: Nilon, C.H. & Aronson, M.F.J. (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Urban Biodiversity, Oxford: Taylor & Francis
  • Colley, K.; Currie, M.; Irvine, K.N. (2023) Outdoor recreation and the wellbeing of rural residents: Insight from Scotland, In: Johansen, P.H.; Tietjen, A.; Iversen, E.B.; Lolle, H.L. & Fisker, J.K. (eds.). Rural Quality of Life. Manchester: Manchester University Press, Chapter 22, pp 427-444
  • Marselle, M.R.; Stadler, J.; Korn, H.; Irvine, K.N.; Bonn, A. (eds.) (2019) Biodiversity, health and climate change, Springer, Cham, Switzerland, 481pp
  • Marselle, M.R.; Martens, D.; Dallimer, M.; Irvine, K.N. (2019) Review of the mental health and well-being benefits of biodiversity, In: Marselle, M., Stadler, J., Korn, H., Irvine, K.N. & Bonn, A. (eds.). Biodiversity and Health in the Face of Climate Change. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, 175-211
  • Irvine, K.N.; Hoesly, D.; Bell-Williams, R.; Warber, S.L. (2019) Spiritual wellbeing and biodiversity, In: Marselle, M., Stadler, J., Korn, H., Irvine, K.N. & Bonn, A. (eds.) Biodiversity and Health in the Face of Climate Change. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, 213-247
  • Roberts, D.; Torrance, L.; Stirton, G.; Britton, A.J.; Craig, C.-A.; Kyle, C; Newman, C.; Macaulay, C.; Fielding, D.; Watson, H.; Pohle, I.; Robertson, J.; Maxwell, J.; Irvine, K.; Sutherland, L-A.; Dawson, L.A.; Shepherd, L.; Miller, P.; Ellis, R.; Richards, S.; Blok, V.; Hackett, C.; Kettle, H. (2018) Women in Science, The James Hutton Institute, 25pp
  • Warber, S.L.; Irvine, K.N.; Devine-Wright P.; Gaston, K.J. (2013) Modelling wellbeing and the relationship between individuals and their environments., In: Coles, R. & Millman, Z. (eds.). Landscape, Well-being and Environment. Routledge, New York, USA, Chapter 2, pp20-27.


  • Nicholson, H.; Roberts, M.; Thompson, C.; Irvine, K. (2024) Validated index of green and blue space quality, RESAS report
  • Miller, D.; Schwarz, G.; Chartier, O.; Salle, E.; Zomer, B.; Bognar, J.; Arcuri, S.; Černič Istenič, M.; Martino, G.; Moodie, J.; Vilcu, R.; Irvine, K.; Nijnik, M.; Wang, C. (2023) Second Set of Recommendations for Future Research Agendas, Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors (SHERPA), D7.4
  • Donnelly, D.; Sideris, K.; Irvine, K.; Brown, K.; Juarez Bourke, A. (2023) Scoping Report on Digital Platforms Suitable for Developing Greater Inclusion of Diverse Biodiversity Narratives, Listed on Hutton website for RESAS project
  • Colley, K.; Hague, A.; Thompson, C.; Fischer, A.; Roberts, M.; Irvine, K.; Juarez Bourke, A.; Conniff, A.; Nicholson, H.; Eastwood, A.; Herrett, S.; Ferguson, J.; Murray, K.; Rae, G. (2023) Creating Natural Connections: Final Evaluation of Outcomes for People, Evaluation report of the people-focused activities of the Creating Natural Connections project, delivered by Cumbernauld Living Landscape.
  • MacLean, L.; Marshall, A.; Somervail, P.; Conniff, A.; Irvine, K. (2023) Children and young people’s engagement with nature: A narrative review, Interim report.
  • Roberts, M.; Nicholson, H.; Li, K.; Irvine, K. (2023) Green and blue space quality metrics scoping review, Directly to stakeholders.
  • Conniff, A.; Irvine, K.N. (2022) Intergrating Social Science Methods for Mapping Cultural Ecosystem Services. RESAS 1.4.1bvi Cultural Ecosystem Services indicators and Mapping – Final Report, RESAS 1.4.1bvi Cultural Ecosystem Services indicators and Mapping – Final Report
  • Castellazzi, M.; Aalders, I.; Irvine, K.N. (2022) A prototype methodology to mapping selected bio-physical aspects of CICES-defined Aesthetics in Scotland., RESAS 1.4.1 Method testing for aesthetics cultural ecosystem services.
  • Miller, D.; Aitkenhead, M.; Artz, R.R.E.; Baggaley, N.; Black, H.; Iannetta, P.; Irvine, K.; Lilly, A.; Matthews, K.; Miller, D.; Nijnik, M.; Lopez, D.; Wardell-Johnson, D. (2022) Perth and Kinross Council Carbon Sequestration Study, Contract report to Perth and Kinross Council.
  • Chartier, O.; Miller, D.; Panoutsopoulos, H.; Espejo García, B.; Schwarz, G.; Irvine, K.; Iadecola, F.; Bertolozzi, D.; Al-Ajlani, H. (2021) FIRST SET OF RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH AGENDAS SHERPA, Deliverable 72, H2020 SHERPA project deliverable, submitted to European Commission, 41pp.
  • Schwarz, G.; Carolus, J.; Irvine, K.N.; Miller, D.R.; Smyrniotopoulou, A.; Vlahos, G.; Povellato, A.; Vanni, F.; Prazan, J.; Fleury, P.; Guisepelli, E.; Vincent, A.; Landert, J.; Albanito, F.; Röös, E.; Cazacu, M.; Fratila, M. (2021) Deliverable Report D6.4: Methodological Briefs., UNISECO Deliverable Report D6.4 to the European Commission, UNISECO – Understanding and Improving the Sustainability of Agro-ecological Farming Systems in the EU (773901), 57pp.
  • Appiah, B.; Roberts, M.; Irvine, K.N. (2021) Monitoring outcomes of Cumbernauld Living Landscape volunteer projects., Report to Cumbernauld Living Landscape.
  • Castellazzi, M.; Aalders I.; Irvine K.N. (2021) Mapping aesthetics in Scotland,, RESAS 1.4.1bvi Cultural Ecosystem Services Indicators and Mapping – Deliverable D8, Working Paper. SEFARI Website on Mapping Aesthetics in Scotland Based on 10 metrics.
  • Miller, D.R.; Irvine, K.N.; Cooksley, S.; Baird, E.; Barr, J.; Bestwick, C.; Brierton, J.; Cameron, E.; Dawson, L.A.; Ford, A.; Forrest, E.; Hearns, D.; Hume, J.; MacDonald, D.; Nisbet, W.; Owen, R. (2020) Long-term vision for rural areas: contribution from 20 science-society-policy platforms: Map discussion paper – Rural Scotland and River Dee catchment., SHERPA UK Multi-Actor Platform Discussion Paper, H2020 Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors Project (SHERPA), 37pp.
  • Irvine, K.N.; Msika, J.; Dinnie, E.; Craig, T.; Fischer, A.; Hague, A.; Rajagopalan, D.; Roberts, M.; Wilson, R. (2020) Climate change engagement: assessing the impacts of the Climate Challenge Fund., ClimateXChange Report, 164pp.
  • Roberts, M.; McVittie, A.; Glenk, K.; Irvine, K.N. (2020) Natural Capital Accounts for Scotland: Urban greenspace accounts, Report, Natural Capital Accounts for Scotland
  • Conniff, A.; Fisher, D.; Herrett, S.; Irvine, K.N. (2019) Favourite places in and around Girvan, Scotland., Report from a Public Mapping Activity: Favourite Places In and Around Girvan, Scotland. Girvan, Scotland, 25-26 October 2019.
  • Kleeschulte, S.; Carrao, H.; Gregor, M.; Loehnertz, M.; Ayanu, Y.; Kleeschulte, I.; Fons, J.; Ubach, R.; Milego, R.; Weber, R.; Nilsson, K.; Turunen, E.; Nordregio, S.; Irvine, K.N.; Maxwell, J.; Kuhfuss, L.; Faccioli, M.; Blanco, G.G.; Garcia, I. (2018) GRETA – Green infrastructure: Enhancing biodiversity and ecosysTem services for territorial development., Inception Report, Version 05/02/2018, ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme, 37pp.
  • Miller, D.R.; Aalders, I.H.; Irvine, K.A.; Iragui, U.; Astrain, C.; Zabalza, S.; Schwarz, G. (2018) UNISECO Risk Register: D1.2., Contract Deliverable to European Commission for UNISECO project, Deliverable 1.2, Risk Register.
  • Irvine, K.N.; Colley, K.; Currie, M. (2018) Capabilities for engagement with landscapes for wellbeing., RESAS RD 3.4.3 Working Paper, 31 March 2018.
  • Irvine, K.N.; Conniff, A.; Aalders, I.H. (2018) Touch table mapping and photo activities: Methods for capturing cultural ecosystem services., RESAS RD1.4.1bvi Cultural Ecosystem Services Indicators and Mapping, Deliverable D4 Working Paper, 31 March 2018, 16pp.
  • Irvine, K.I.; Conniff, A.; Aalders, I.H. (2017) Report of the stakeholder meeting August 2016 (KE1)., Internal Report for RESAS 1.4.1bvi.
  • Irvine, K.I.; Conniff, A.; Aalders, I.H. (2017) Social science methods for investigation of spiritual and emblematic cultural ecosystem services., RESAS RD1.4.1bvi Deliverable D2: Social Science Methods Internal Report.
  • Conniff, A.; Irvine, K.N. (2016) Communicating climate change with visualisation tools: a guide., ClimateXChange Report, May 2016
  • Msika, J.; Irvine, K.N. (2016) Mapping the community sector in the Aberdeen region., The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, on behalf of Climate X Change.
  • Scott, B.E.; Irvine, K.N.; Byg, A.; Gubbins, M.; Kafas, A.; Kenter, J.; MacDonald, A.; Murray, R.; Potts, T.; Slater, A.M.; Tweddle, J.F.; Wright, K.; Davies, I.M. (2016) The cooperative participatory evaluation of renewable technologies on ecosystem services (CORPORATES)., Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Report, Volume 7, No.1. Scottish Government, Edinburgh, 84pp.
  • Fisher, J.; Gammon, R.; Irvine, K.N. (2015) My electric avenue (I2EV). SDRC 9.6 – An assessment of the public acceptance of demand side response of EV charging using esprit., My Electric Avenue (I2EV) Project – SSET205. SDRC 9.6: Public Acceptance of Esprit. Final Issue to EA Technology, No.2., 20 October 2015.
  • Kenter, J.O.; Reed, M.S.; Irvine, K.N.; O’Brien, E.; Brady, E.; Bryce, R.; Christie, M.; Church, A.; Cooper, N.; Davies, A.; Evely, A.; Everard, M.; Fazey, I.; Hockley, N.; Jobstvogt, N.; Molloy, C.; Orchard-Webb, J.; Ravenscroft, N.; Ryan, M.; Watson, V. (2014) UK national ecosystem assessment follow-on. Work package report 6: Shared, plural and cultural values of ecosystems., UNEP-WCMC, LWEC, UK.
  • Gilchrist, K.; Irvine, K.N. (2014) Scotland 2030: Picturing life in a low carbon Scotland., ClimateXChange Calldown from Low Carbon Behaviours Policy Team – Narrative for 2030.
  • Kenter, J.O.; Bryce, R.; Davies, A.; Jobstvogt, N.; Watson, V.; Ranger, S.; Solandt, J.L.; Duncan, C.; Christie, M.; Crump, H.; Irvine, K.N.; Pinard, M.; Reed, M.S. (2013) The value of potential marine protected areas in the UK to divers and sea anglers., UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, July 2013.

Conference papers

Conference posters