Dr Ysabel Gerrard

BA (Hons), MA, PhD (University of Leeds)

Department of Sociological Studies

Senior Lecturer in Digital Media and Society

Undergraduate Admissions Officer

Dr Ysabel Gerrard
Profile picture of Dr Ysabel Gerrard
+44 114 222 6435

Full contact details

Dr Ysabel Gerrard
Department of Sociological Studies
The Wave
2 Whitham Road
S10 2AH

Ysabel joined the Department of Sociological Studies in September 2017, having completed her PhD at the School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds and spending some time as an Intern at Microsoft Research New England. In addition to her research and teaching, Ysabel is the Chair of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) Digital Culture and Communication Section (2021-2022), and a member of Facebook’s Suicide and Self-Injury (SSI) Advisory Board. 

She often talks to the press about her research and has appeared in venues like BBC Woman’s Hour, BBC News, The Guardian, The Independent, NBC News, The Washington Post and WIRED

Research interests

Ysabel’s research interests are in:

  • Young people’s experiences of social media 
  • Digital identities (particularly gender)
  • Digital research methods and ethics

These research interests underpin her first manuscript – The Platform Generation: Young Lives and Social Media Content Policies – which is currently under contract with the University of California Press.

  • Ysabel’s research agenda is to produce knowledge that has clear and pragmatic social benefits, especially to vulnerable populations. For example, she submitted a REF 2021 Impact Case Study, titled Making Social Media Safer for People with Eating Disorders.

Journal articles


Book reviews

Website content

  • Gerrard Y & Duffy BE BeReal and the Doomed Quest for Online Authenticity. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Gerrard Y Letter to the Editor: Teenage girls don't need to be 'saved' from social media. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Sharp G, Fardouly J, Bromberg M, Leaver T & Gerrard Y Instagram can make teens feel bad about their body, but parents can help. Here’s how.. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Gerrard Y Social Apps That Go Suddenly Viral Put Kids at Risk. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Gerrard Y & McCosker A The Perils of Moderating Depression on Social Media. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Gerrard Y TikTok Has a Pro-Anorexia Problem. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Gerrard Y & Squirrell T The Perils of Livestreaming on Reddit. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Gerrard Y & Gillespie T When Algorithms Think You Want to Die. RIS download Bibtex download
Dates Funder Project title Role Amount
2021-2022 SIGN (Screen Industries Growth Network) ‘Creator labour: screen production cultures and transmedia intersectionality in Yorkshire’ Co-I £39,985.50
2021 University of Sheffield Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Account ‘Risky-by-design: making the digital world safer for children’ N/A £2627
2019-2022 British Academy Small Research Grant ‘Secrets on social media: exploring young people’s perspectives of anonymous secret-telling apps’ PI £6998
Teaching interests

The modules Ysabel has designed and developed – Digital Identities and those about Digital Methods – draw on her own research interests and experiences. For example, she has spent some time at the Digital Methods Institute at the University of Amsterdam learning about their tools and approaches to social media research (see https://wiki.digitalmethods.net/Dmi/DmiAbout), and at Microsoft Research New England thinking about how social media content gets moderated and policed (see: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/lab/microsoft-research-new-england/).

She likes to incorporate aspects of students’ own lives, experiences and identities into her teaching practices, particularly how they use and understand social media platforms. She also encourages students to think about their privacy on social media, how they represent themselves, and how they use social media in different cultural, geographical, and legal contexts.

Teaching activities

Ysabel teaches the following modules in the 2021/22 academic year:

Semester 1

  • SCS3046 Digital Identities (module and seminar leader)

Semester 2

  • SCS111003: Introduction to Digital Methods Research (module and workshop leader)

Ysabel also supervises BA and MA Dissertation students working on a range of topics.

PhD supervision

Ysabel is currently supervising five PhD candidates:

  • 2021-present: Ziwei Xu, working title TBD (co-supervisor)
  • 2021-present: Alex Kirby-Reynolds, Crisis and the State: Politics and the Everyday Experience of Crises (temporary primary supervisor; co-supervisor)
  • 2020-present: Beth Nutbrown, Toxicity, Trolling and Social Bonding: How the League of Legends Community Functions and Persists Amid Toxicity (secondary supervisor)
  • 2020-present: Qiran Zheng, Developing Long-Term Intimate Relationships in a Social Reality Shaped by Social Media Platforms: A Qualitative Approach to Young Taiwanese Online Dating and Companionship App Users (co-supervisor)

2018-present: Amel Bakour, Investigating Women’s Attitudes Towards Algerian Social Media Influencers (co-supervisor)