Dr Diana Varaden is a Lecturer in Environmental Social Science and Health in the Environmental Research Group with multidisciplinary skills in the fields of air pollution and social science. She is interested in interdisciplinary work bridging natural science, social and health disciplines and in identifying the benefits of involving lay individuals in the research process. Her research interests include the theory and practice of engaging publics in health and environmental research, particularly in areas such as risk perception and communication, participatory research, public engagement in science and the development of public engagement evaluation methods.
With a decade of experience in participatory research, she has led numerous citizen science projects, including the successful Breathe London wearables Study. This initiative actively engaged children in research, enabling the collection of a large and unique data set. It simultaneously increased children's awareness of air pollution, fostering positive changes in their behaviours to reduce exposure.
Dr Varaden is currently deeply involved in the development and delivery of the engagement, involvement, and participatory strategy for the WellHome study, a community-based research project dedicated to investigating indoor air pollution. Her work underscores the importance of involving non-experts in research and promoting public engagement in health and environmental issues.
Dr Diana Varaden is part funded by Impact on Urban Health (IoUH) and is currently coordinating two key initiatives:
- An Introduction to Air Quality Course aimed at improving air quality awareness and knowledge.
- A citizen science program designed to empower communities by involving them in designing, implementing, and interpreting their own air quality monitoring projects, enhancing public awareness of air pollution.
In addition to her research endeavours, Dr Varaden has been serving as the Public Engagement Coordinator for the NIHR-HPRU in Environmental Exposures and Health since 2020. In this capacity, she assumes the responsibility of crafting and executing the Unit's Public and Community Involvement, Engagement, and Participation (PCIEP) program. Her duties also encompass serving as a vital liaison between research themes, the public, and community groups.
KEY RESEARCH PROJECTS
Tan T, Junghans C, Varaden D, 2023, Empowering community health professionals for effective air pollution information communication., Bmc Public Health, Vol:23
et al., 2022, Comparing human exposure to fine particulate matter in low and high-income countries: A systematic review of studies measuring personal PM<sub>2.5</sub> exposure, Science of the Total Environment, Vol:833, ISSN:0048-9697
et al., 2021, "I am an air quality scientist"- Using citizen science to characterise school children's exposure to air pollution, Environmental Research, Vol:201, ISSN:0013-9351
et al., 2021, Engaging primary students with the issue of air pollution through citizen science: lessons to be learnt, Journal of Emergent Science
Varaden D, McKevitt C, Barratt B, 2018, Making the invisible visible: Engaging school children in monitoring air pollution in London, Research for All, Vol:2, Pages:267-288
Varaden D, Einar L, Barratt B, 2019, The Breathe London Wearables Study Engaging primary school children to monitor air pollution in London, London, Greater London Authority
Varaden D, 2019, Developing and testing methods to engage communities in air quality issues: an air pollution case study in London