1 February 2022

Sheffield researchers named some of the most influential academics in government

Two University of Sheffield researchers have been named in the top 100 Most Influential Academics in Government 2022.

A photo showing the exterior of the house of commons, as well as Big Ben
  • Apolitical’s list recognises academics who have been the most influential to government work around the world over the last year.
  • Dr Ruth Little specialises in agricultural and food-related research, and is named for her work on climate and sustainability.
  • Professor Sue Yeandle has been recognised for her influence on social policy, and specialises in the relationship between work and care, and how social and employment policies affect how women and men manage caring roles and responsibilities throughout the life course.

Two University of Sheffield researchers have been named in the top 100 Most Influential Academics in Government 2022.

Dr Ruth Little and Professor Sue Yeandle have both been recognised in Apolitical’s 100 Most Influential Academics in Government list 2022. The list highlights academic work that has influenced policy making processes by providing insights into policy problems, contributing innovative ideas and solutions or adding informative data.

Dr Little, from the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food, was named for her work on climate and sustainability, whilst Professor Yeandle, from the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences, features for the impact her research has had on social policy.

Dr Little specialises in agricultural and food-related research. She is the Principal Investigator on the Agri-Environmental Governance Post-Brexit project, which works with farmers and government to develop a model for co-designing the new post-Brexit Environmental Land Management system.

She was nominated for her extensive collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Her research has been cited in numerous government publications, including The Environmental Audit Committee’s report on "Biodiversity in the UK" and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s report on "Environmental Land Management and the agricultural transition".

Professor Sue Yeandle is Director of the Centre for International Research on Care, Labour & Equalities (CIRCLE) at the University of Sheffield. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and has advised governments and policymakers on care, caring and related topics in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Finland, France, Japan, Taiwan and at the European Commission and United Nations.

In November 2021, Professor Yeandle was awarded £10 million of UK research council funding as the Principal Investigator and Director of the new Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Centre for Care, which will develop leading research on care in the UK throughout the 2020s. The centre will focus on care across the life course and on inequalities in care and how these can be tackled. It will build world-class data infrastructure and theory on care to ensure the care needs of older, disabled and other people facing challenges in everyday life are adequately understood.

Additionally, Professor Yeandle’s research focuses on care and caring, technology as a support for older people, carers and care workers, work-care reconciliation, and international comparison of long-term care arrangements in societies around the world.

Professor Sue Yeandle, Director of CIRCLE from the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Social Sciences, said: “I’m honoured to be recognised for the impact of my research in the UK and around the world. Care is a genuine ‘grand challenge’ for governments, policymakers, employers and communities everywhere. Good care improves lives, but care deficits damage individuals, families, careers and economies.

“I’m proud to be leading a new, internationally connected team to help governments tackle this crucial issue by focusing on inequalities in care, and how these can be overcome.”     

Dr Ruth Little, from the University of Sheffield’s institute for Sustainable Food, said: “It is great to be recognised in this list. My research focuses on enhancing the role of people in the policy development process. From bovine TB to the development of the new post-Brexit Environmental Land Management scheme, it is important to recognise that people have a fundamental role to play in the success and failure of policies.

“The development of agri-environmental policy needs to be both socially and environmentally sustainable. My training as a geographer enables me to assess these policies based upon the implications for both livelihoods and landscapes."

Professor Peter Jackson, Director of the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food, said: “I'm delighted that Ruth Little has been named as one of Apolitical's 100 most influential academics in government.  Her work with Defra demonstrates the relevance of geography to environmental policy and underlines the institute's commitment to the development of a more sustainable agri-food system. Well done Ruth!”

You can see the list in full here.


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