Public health messaging during the COVID pandemic: Meet the research team

This research is a collaboration between the University of Salford, King’s College London, Birmingham City University and Newcastle University. This page provides further information about the research team, their experience and research interests.

Prof Ben Light
Ben Light is Professor of Digital Society and Associate Dean – Research and Innovation at the University of Salford. His research concerns people’s everyday experiences of digital media with a focus on (non)consumption, gender and sexuality, digital methods, and digital media engagement for arts, culture, health and wellbeing. Ben is the author (with Susanna Paasonen and Kylie Jarrett) of NSFW: Sex and Humor in Social Media (2019 MIT Press) and Disconnecting with Social Networking Sites (Palgrave 2014). He has published widely in journals such as New Media and Society, First Monday, Information Communication and Society, Cultural Sociology, Information Technology and People, Convergence and Continuum.

Dr Jamie Hakim
Jamie Hakim is a lecturer in culture, media and creative industries at King’s College, London. His research interests lie at the intersection of digital cultures, intimacy, embodiment and care. His book Work That Body: Male Bodies in Digital Culture was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2019. He is principle investigator on the ESRC funded ‘Digital Intimacies: how gay and bisexual men use their smartphones to negotiate their cultures of intimacy’, which is partnered with sexual health organisations the Terrence Higgins Trust, London Friend and Waverley Care (www.uea.ac.uk/digital-intimacies). As part of the Care Collective he has co-authored The Care Manifesto: The Politics of Interdependence which has just been published by Verso.

Prof John Mercer
John Mercer is Professor of Gender and Sexuality at Birmingham City University. He is the author of Objectification: On the Difference between Sex and Sexism, (with Susanna Paasonen, Feona Attwood, Alan McKee and Clarissa Smith) Routledge, 2020, Gay Porn: Representations of Masculinity and Sexuality, I.B. Tauris  2017, Rock Hudson, BFI publishing 2015 and of Melodrama: Genre Style Sensibility (with Martin Shingler) Columbia University Press 2004. He is co-editor of the Journal of Gender StudiesPorn Studies, and editorial board member of Sexualities and Celebrity Studies. He is PI on the AHRC Masculinity, Sex and Popular Culture research network and Routledge book series with Clarissa Smith. His research focusses on the politics of representation, in particular sexual representation, the connections between gay pornography and the making of a gay identity, the social and cultural construction of masculinities, performances of gender in the media and digital culture. 

Dr Karenza Moore
Karenza Moore is a Lecturer in Sociology of Crime, in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University. Karenza’s background is in Sociology, Criminology, Youth Studies and Leisure Studies. She was awarded an ESRC-funded PhD in Sociology from Surrey University in 2004 titled ‘Young People’s Versions of the Future in Relation to Mobile Technology’, and worked at Lancaster University for 13 years before joining the University of Salford in 2019, and Newcastle University in 2021. Her research and teaching are focused on illicit drug use, drug laws, markets and policy, as well as on internet risks and security. Her recent publications include an EU report on targeted population surveys to capture drug use in recreational settings such as nightclubs and festivals, and a Beckley Foundation report on MDMA/Ecstasy legal regulation.

Lisa Garwood-Cross
Lisa Garwood-Cross is a PhD researcher and Research Assistant at the University of Salford. Her research focuses on the use of social media and influencers in Relationships and Sex Education in the United Kingdom. Lisa has also worked on a number of projects relating to the intersections of social media and digital health, including working with the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership’s Teaching Care Homes project as part of the Digital Transformation workstream, to identify areas where technology could benefit care home residents and staff; and the Kidney Information Network, analysing the use of Facebook groups to provide peer support and information exchange for patients with Chronic Kidney Disease.


Rachael Hinds
Rachael Hinds is a research assistant at the University of Salford and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Gender, Sexuality, and Culture at the University of Manchester. Her research examines global narratives of black queer women’s sexual desires and pleasures through cinema and documentary study, emphasising the UK, US, the Caribbean, and South Africa. She has a diverse background in the non-profit sector, where she provided specialised community engagement and development work to LGBTQ+, Black, and Asian communities. Her most recent project at BHA for Equality was ‘Access to contraception for Black, Asian, and ethnic minority women.’ The project co-produced resources on contraceptive choices for Black, Asian, and ethnic minority women, as well as health professionals, to improve access to providing and facilitating contraceptive care.

Dr Mike Upton
Mike Upton is a Research Associate at King’s College London. Mike has worked both as an academic and freelance curator for projects exploring LGBTQI+ activism and cultural production associated with the HIV pandemic. Mike’s PhD focused on ideas and practices of intellectual property as they are contested by social movements campaigning for global access to HIV medication.

Dr Rachel Katz
Rachel Katz is a digital media sociologist and research assistant at the University of Salford who specializes in dating app technologies’ consequences for communication, identity, and everyday social life. Her research on Grindr tourism and Tinder profile pictures has received international media attention. She is also an award-winning teacher. Rachel earned her PhD in sociology from the University of Manchester. She received her master’s degree in multi-disciplinary gender studies from the University of Cambridge, and completed her bachelor’s degree at Columbia University (Barnard College) in the USA.

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