School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Ruth Machen

Postdoctoral Fellow in Spatial Planning



Ruth is a research fellow of the Global Urban Research Unit (GURU). Her research is focused on the politics of environmental knowledge in and through science-policy interactions. Her current Fellowship at GURU is exploring this through the intersection of algorithmic thinking and climate change.

Ruth previously worked as a research associate for Prof Simin Davoudi on the ESPON LOCATE project: Territories and Low Carbon Economy and for Prof Simon Marvin on an ESRC-CONFAP Newton Fund project: Augmented Urbanity and Smart Technologies: How Smart are our Cities Becomming?

Her PhD research, supervised by Prof Harriet Bulkeley and Dr Andrew Baldwin at Durham University, examined the construction of values and legitimacy during science-policy boundary work in Scotland.

Previous Life

Before returning to academia in 2011, Ruth spent seven years working in climate change and renewable energy policy in Northumberland – leading the environmental policy work of Northumberland Strategic Partnership.

Work on Research Impact 

Drawing on previous practitioner experience in fostering academic-policy collaboration, and current research on science-policy interaction, Ruth has provided strategic support to the School of Geography Politics and Sociology at Newcastle towards planning for research impact for REF2021. This draws on longstanding interest in engaging with impact in ways that draw from critical theory to challenge social policy. 


My research focuses on knowledge politics generated through science-policy interaction, particularly in the context of climate change.

Research undertaken for my doctoral thesis examined knowledge politics during climate science-policy boundary work in Scotland. Here I was specifically interested in questions of values and legitimacy  and developed a critique of the way that focus on knowledge translation shapes particular types of knowledge and forms of policy response. 

My current research agenda explores the intersections of science and policy through processes of algorithmic thinking. This explores further questions around the politics of possibility within climate change futures and value-orientated discourses. 


I have contributed to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in the areas of: 

Level 1: Geographies of Crisis; Environment and Society; Integrated Geographical Research Methods

Level 2: Theory and Concepts, Social Research Methods

Level 3: Cities and Climate Change, Geographies of Commodities

Level 4: (Masters) Geographical Research Skills and Dissemination