I am an environmental psychologist and conservationist, passionate about the relationship between humans and the natural world. I joined the University of Surrey as a PhD Researcher and ESRC Scholar in October 2016, and have since taken on a Teaching Fellow role within the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Prior to academia, I have 10 years’ travel industry experience having held positions at Walt Disney World, Bournemouth Tourism, The Tourism Society, VisitEngland and, most recently, VisitBritain.
My environmental interest was ignited when I travelled to Antarctica with Students on Ice, having been elected as the UK’s student representative of International Polar Years in 2007-2008. I then joined the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) on a research expedition to Svalbard in 2011. Such experiences led to my award winning Master’s thesis, The future of Antarctica. Is tourism an ally or an enemy? The publication of my first book, Arctic Reflections: Moment of Inspiration, a Lifetime of Action (Tomac., Hehir. 2013) and now my PhD.
Areas of specialism
Environmental Psychology; Connectedness to Nature; Behaviour Change; Last-chance Tourism; Travel within the Polar Regions; Tourists as Ambassadors; Wildlife Tourism
Recognised and funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), my environmental psychology based PhD research collaborates with leading tour operators and international wildlife charities to measure the actual value travelling has for conservation across the booking journey. Outcomes of this research identify the types of experiences/activities that add value and engage tourists to emotionally connect with the environments they visit, and pinpoint triggers in travel that inspire philanthropic donations both onsite and subsequently.
I am passionate about teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
I teach across many of the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Events modules including:
MANM050 Visitor Attractions Management (Module Leader)
MANM150 Destination Management and Marketing (Module Leader)
MAN3162 Mentoring and Professional Development
MAN3156 Strategic Brand Management in Tourism
MAN2112 Managing Organisations and Human Resources