Professor Meena Kumari appointed new ISER Director

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Meena Kumari, Professor of Biological and Social Epidemiology, as the next Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex from 1st October 2023.

Professor Kumari is a world-renowned epidemiologist, working at the intersection of social science and biological science, and will lead ISER’s innovative research programme during an exciting moment in its 34 year history.

Meena is a leading expert in biomarkers and genetics,and has worked to apply insights from these areas to better understand ageing, cardiovascular disease, and health inequalities using Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, based at ISER and she is a co-investigator with the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC) also based at ISER. She has also worked on the Whitehall II cohort study of British civil servants and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. She remains an Honorary Professor at UCL.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, Professor Anthony Forster, said: “ISER is a vitally important part of the UK’s research infrastructure, and I am delighted to welcome Meena as ISER’s new Director. She is a highly respected member of the Essex research community and will help build on ISER’s exceptional reputation for world-leading authoritative social science research.

“Meena is at the forefront of the latest social science research and will help us to develop the next generation of social scientists. She will also support us to continue to push the boundaries of interdisciplinary research to support policy makers and deliver valuable insights into how we live our lives.”

Professor Kumari said, “ISER is one of the world’s most prestigious interdisciplinary research institutes and I am honoured to take on its leadership.

“Understanding how valuable biological data can be, when combined with socio-economic information, has become an important part of the work of both MiSoC and Understanding Society, two of ISER’s longest-running research centres. ISER is home to many leading sociologists, economists, demographers, computer scientists and survey methodologists, and has been at the forefront of social science innovation for over three decades. We also have a strong focus on growing the research talent of the future, supervising PhD students and mentoring early career researchers. Alongside MiSoC and Understanding Society, our Centre for Microsimulation and Policy Analysis is producing cutting edge research methods to understand how to test policies to combat inequalities around the world, and our survey methods experts are investigating new ways to collect and analyse data, including using AI and machine learning. ISER’s reputation for innovation is superb and I am delighted to be a champion for its work and to support our amazing research teams as they look to the challenges of the future.”

Professor Kumari will take over from ISER’s current Director, Professor Peter Lynn, as his term of office ends on 30 September 2023.

Professor Peter Lynn will be continuing in ISER, as Director of the new ESRC-funded Survey Futures collaboration and Professor of Survey Methodology. 


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