My research is interested in the relationship between (cold-water) surfing, (mental) health and wellbeing. This research is primarily situated within Health Geographies and is particularly influenced by the ontological post-human turn in considering how we as humans and bodies are ‘affected’ by the material (or natural) world (Andrews 2019).
Within Health Geographies, I am particularly interested in what Foley et al (2019) describe as the ‘hydrophilic turn’, referring to the emergence of ‘Blue Space’ Geographies. ‘Blue Spaces’ are increasingly recognised for their potential for health and wellbeing (Foley and Kistemann 2015) and my research is situated in what has come to be known as the ‘Blue Health’, ‘Blue Care’ (Britton et al 2018) or ‘Blue Mind’ movement.
For my thesis, I am focusing on the case study of women surfers (the ‘Gower Women’s Surf Society’) on the Gower Peninsula, Wales. This is a group of approximately 40 women who meet and surf regularly. Through this case study, my research has evolved to become interested in ideas around surfing, gender and women’s groups as ‘safe spaces’. I have documented their journey moving through the winter of 2022-23 and have seen themes emerge around community, access, inclusion nature connection, spaces of fear and ‘sisterhood’.
Alongside my studies, I have experience in mentorship and educational roles. I teach undergraduate Geography students at Cardiff University and have delivered ‘Blue Health’ workshops (TYF March 2022 & March 2023). I also value public engagement opportunities about my research and have spoken on the Shaka Surf ‘Ocean Woman’ podcast (July 2023) and was invited to participate at the ‘Blue Mind’ symposium at The Wave in Bristol (November 2022). The purpose of this event was to facilitate knowledge exchange between research and practice around the topics of blue health, surf therapy and surfing to promote health.
She was also selected as a panel speaker (‘How to swim: Researching bodies in nature’) at the QRSE Conference 2022 Durham University with Rebecca Olive, Kate Moles, Charlotte Bates and Ronan Foley.