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Diana Valero

Staff picture: Diana Valero
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
MDT Fellow in Rural Water Security
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Diana Valero is a social scientist working as MDT Fellow in Rural Water Security working in the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences (SEGS) research group at the James Hutton Institute.

Her educational background is in political science, local development and rural policy.

Prior to joining The James Hutton Institute in 2021 she carried out postdoc research at the University of Stirling and in the Centre for Mountian Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Diana earned her PhD from the University of Valencia in Spain.

Current research interests

With a strong focus on social justice, her research investigates social change and sustainable development in rural communities in order to inform theories of rurality and contribute to the development of a fairer society in the light of the pressing societal challenges. She focuses on understanding the drivers of cooperation, innovation, conflicts and inequalities in rural areas and their links with social cohesion and positive social change. 

Her key research interests include:

  • Social innovation
  • Social justice and inequalities
  • Narratives of rurality
  • Socio-environmental conflicts
  • Water security

Diana is experienced in qualitative and quantitative research methods, with a strong focus on participatory methods and working creatively with stakeholders. She is experienced in implementing a variety of research tools including: in-depth interviews and focus groups; participatory workshops; games-based research; and narrative analysis and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA).

Ongoing research projects: 


Past research

Earlier in 2022 Diana collaborated in a CREW project led by Rowan Ellis, exploring barriers to engaging with private sewerage users and how to overcome them in support of sustainable rural water services.


Before joining Hutton she worked as a postdoc on several international projects exploring different aspects of sustainable rural development such as social innovation (Horizon 2020 SIMRA- ‘Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas’), ecotourism and stakeholder engagement (Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme SHAPE- ‘Sustainable Heritage Areas: Partnerships for Ecotourism’), production and provision of renewable energy (ESPON 2020 BRIDGES –‘Balanced Regional Development in Territories with Geographical Specificities’), and land management decisions in (Newton funded project ENDORSE ‘Enhancing Diversity to Overcome Resistance Evolution’).

Diana’s PhD and pre-doctoral research investigated social exclusion in rural areas in Spain and the local policies that were in place to address it.


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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.