Dr. Gwilym Owen

Gwilym tells us about influencing policy and learning languages.

a footprint with CO2 written over it to represent a carbon footprint

Describe your job in three words
Research, Research, Research.

How long have you worked for The University of Sheffield?
Probably a year by the time anyone reads this.

What do you enjoy about the work you do?
I get to spend most of the day doing something that interests me.

What research are you working on now?
A project measuring urban inequalities in a city in China and a project that looks at the links between income inequality and spatial inequality in UK regions.

What would you like to be the ultimate outcome of your research?
For something I do to have the smallest contribution in helping create a fairer, happier, healthier and more inclusive society (obviously I would like to make a big contribution to this but let’s be realistic).

What legislation would you change to improve how science in your field is done?
For the government to actually listen to the social research that they are spending millions of pounds on and propose legislation based on this evidence (sorry if this doesn’t actually answer the question).

Is there controversy in this area? Other schools of thought?
Yes. The government think it is better to ignore the evidence.

And how did you get involved with the SMI?
I applied for a job which happened to be associated with the SMI.

Do you have another area of research that you’re currently not working on that you would like to?
I would like to do research on the societal impacts of climate change.

What kind of response have you gotten to your research/findings?
Broadly positive.

Why is your research important? What are the possible real-world applications?
My research is important?

Why is your area of scientific discovery important (or relevant) for the ordinary citizen of this country?
Social injustices and inequalities play a large role in everyone’s experience of life and everyone’s wellbeing. Highlighting these and understanding them better is therefore relevant to everyone.

What is your favourite thing about what you do?
I get paid to learn new things every day, work with great people and do something which at least seems somewhat worthwhile.

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
Any of the staff at the SMI. They are all great.

What is something you learned in the last week?
I learnt that in Italy the Mafia are profiting from the influx of refugees by skimming of the money that the government grants to refugee reception centres.

What is currently on your bedside table?
A glass of water.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Speak every language in the world (I’m assuming that in this scenario you have all the time in the world).

Your top 3 favourite Podcasts/Books?
Grapes of Wrath, Catch 22, the atlas I had when I was growing up.

Text that says Why Numbers Matter

Why Numbers Matter

SMI's series on why it's important to get numbers right.

Flagship institutes

The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.