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Kathryn Colley

Staff picture: Kathryn Colley
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social Scientist - Person-Environment Interactions
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Kathryn Colley is an environmental social scientist whose research in the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences (SEGS) group focuses on person-environment relationships. She has a first degree in Ecological Sciences (Edinburgh University), an MSc in Urban & Regional Planning and PhD in Urban Studies (both Heriot-Watt University).  Kathryn is a mixed method researcher, combining quantitative and qualitative approaches to gain holistic and in-depth understandings of complex person-environment interactions in practice.

Kathryn completed her PhD at the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University in 2014.  Her doctoral research focused on the health and wellbeing functions of greenspace in the context of peri-urban business sites.

Prior to joining SEGS in September 2013 she worked as a social researcher in the Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services division, where her work focused largely on behaviour change for low carbon living.

Current research interests

Kathryn's primary research interests lie in the interactions between people and landscape, with a focus on dimensions of person-environment interactions in everyday places and the part these play in underpinning human wellbeing.  Of particular interest are:

a) The role that physical landscape attributes and ecological characteristics play in processes of psychological restoration, place identity and attachment; and in shaping outdoor recreation behaviour and the experience of green/blue spaces.

b) Understanding how personal and individual factors such as ecological knowledge, past experience, and nature connectedness interact in these relationships with landscape across the urban-rural matrix.

A second strand of Kathryn's work focuses on understanding transitions to low carbon lifestyles at the individual and household level, with a focus on how subjective wellbeing and processes of identification (e.g. with particular social groups, roles or environments) relate to the performance of different types of pro-environmental behaviour.


  • Pinker, A.; Colley, K (2019) Co-ordinated, tailored and inclusive energy efficiency schemes for fighting fuel poverty: Aberdeen., SMARTEES Report.
  • Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T.; Colley, K.; Ge, J.; Sat, D. (2018) The SMARTEES Project and The James Hutton Institute?s potential contribution to the Torry Heat Network project., Appendix 10.4 in support of Torry Heat Network, Report to be presented to Aberdeen City Council.
  • 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.
  • Colley, K.; Currie, M.; Hopkins, J.; Melo, P. (2016) Access to outdoor recreation by older people in Scotland., Report for Rural Communities Research, Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) Division, The Scottish Government. Social Research Series, 85pp.
  • Colley, K.; Currie, M.; Hopkins, J.; Melo, P. (2016) Access to outdoor recreation by older people in Scotland., Project Report to Scottish Government.
  • Holstead, K.L.; Colley, K.; Waylen, K.A. (2016) Tackling the barriers to implementing natural flood management: summary report., Summary Report presented at Workshop Meeting, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, 11 February 2016.
  • 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.
  • Gilchrist, K.; Craig, T. (2014) Home energy efficiency - a review of evidence of attitudes and behaviours., ClimateXChange website.

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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.