Our team has a wealth of knowledge and experience of producing impactful research on gambling and its social impacts. Our interdisciplinary and policy-relevant work is linked by a shared common interest on the impact of gambling on vulnerable group and the impact of commercial gambling’s expansion on cultural and political contexts. Read more about each member of our team below.

Prof Gerda Reith

Gerda is a Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow with a longstanding specialism in gambling and problem gambling; its causes, consequences and cultural meanings. She has written extensively on the empirical and theoretical issues around these topics, and her book, The Age of Chance: Gambling in Western Culture, won the Philip Abrams Prize for the best book in sociology for 2000. Gerda actively engages with gambling policy makers globally and has conducted extensive research across gambling and consumption-related topics. Gerda is a commissioner on the Lancet Public Health Commission on Gambling and the Howard League Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling. Her latest book is Addictive Consumption: Capitalism, Modernity and Excess

Dr Heather Wardle

Heather is a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Reader in Sociology at the University of Glasgow. She is a specialist in gambling research, policy and practice and is currently leading the Lancet Public Health Commission on Gambling. Heather’s research focuses on understanding the impact of gambling on people’s lives and devising solutions. Her first book, Games without Frontiers?, looks at the intersection between gaming and gambling and how this has developed. Heather has nearly twenty years of experience designing, implementing and analysing some of Britain’s largest studies of health and wellbeing, including the Health Survey for England and the British Gambling Prevalence Survey. She serves on the WHO panel on gambling and between 2015 and 2020 was deputy chair of the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling, providing independent advice on gambling policy to the national regulator and to government.

Dr Fiona Dobbie

Fiona is a Senior Research Fellow in Sociology at the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh. Fiona is a researcher of inequalities with a focus on gambling and tobacco research. She also has expertise in the design and evaluation of complex health behaviour change and prevention interventions, with a particular interest in social network interventions. Fiona is currently leading an MRC PHIND grant to develop a school based, social network intervention to prevent gambling harm in adolescents called, PRoGRAM-A (Preventing Gambling Harm in Adolescents).

Dr Chris Bunn

Chris is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow and a Senior Researcher at the Malawian Epidemiology and Intervention Research Unit. His work focuses on both gambling and long-term health conditions. He is particularly interested in the intersection between sports sponsorship and gambling harm, how widespread and evolving digital technologies have enabled a new global gambling landscape to emerge and approaches to reducing gambling-related harms. Chris has a special interest in the origins and development of commercial forms of gambling in Malawi and the broad social consequences they have had for Malawians. Chris is a commissioner on the Lancet Public Health Commission on Gambling.

Headshot of Professor Graeme Roy, Dean of External Engagement and Deputy Head of College.

Prof Graeme Roy

Graeme Roy is Dean of External Engagement in the College of Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at the University of Glasgow. He is a former Senior Civil Servant in the Scottish Government and head of the First Minister’s Policy Unit. He is a past Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde. He has been a special adviser to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee and in July 2022, Graeme was appointed Chair of the Scottish Fiscal Commission, Scotland’s independent economic and fiscal forecasting body.

Dr Daria Ukhova

Daria is a Research Associate in Sociology at the University of Glasgow. She has a long-standing research interest in social determinants of health (especially, gender and class), as well as in health policies and their equity implications. Prior to joining the University of Glasgow, Daria worked for more than ten years on health inequalities research and policy projects for international developments agencies, including Oxfam and WHO. Daria’s work brought her to multiple countries – from Guatemala to Tajikistan. At the Lancet Public Health Commission on Gambling, Daria leads policy analysis focusing on how countries across the world are integrating public health approach into their responses to gambling-related harms.

Dr Viktorija Kesaite

Viktorija is a Research Associate at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on theoretical frameworks for analysing the relationship between total consumption and problem or excessive consumption in gambling.Viktorija completed her PhD thesis in 2021 at the University of Exeter. During her PhD, she explored the causal analysis of the effect of weight status on education and wage outcomes.

Dr Blair Biggar

Blair is a Research Associate and teacher at the University of Glasgow and a member of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing’s Social Scientists in Health group. He is also a Member of the Academic Forum for the Study of Gambling. Blair is experienced in conducting interdisciplinary research and working in the third sector. Broadly, Blair is interested in researching the relationship between citizens and the state, lived experience, and inequalities. At present, Blair is leading the Lancet Public Health Commission on Gambling’s Lived Experience work stream. For the Commission, he is examining lived experiences of legacy harms associated with gambling. Alongside his work on the Commission, he is the Study Coordinator on the Football Fans and Betting (FFAB) Project which is a feasibility study and randomised pilot trial of a group-based intervention delivered through professional football clubs to reduce gambling involvement among male gamblers. He is also researching the rise of gambling sponsorship in Esports.

Students past and present

Dr Robin Ireland

Robin Ireland has worked in public health since 1984, including being employed by Princes Park Health Centre in Liverpool 8 and Mersey Regional Health Authority amongst others. He is the former Chief Executive of the Health Equalities Group (HEG) charity based in Liverpool. Ireland established the organisation in 2002, followed by Healthy Stadia in 2004 and Food Active in 2013, both part of HEG, and is now an Honorary Director of Research with the charity. He has since worked with the University of Dundee and Obesity Action Scotland. Robin was elected Member of the UK Faculty of Public Health through Distinction in 2015.

Robin received a BA (Hons) in Development Studies at the University of East Anglia and gained his MPH at the University of Liverpool. He was awarded his PhD by the University of Glasgow in 2021. His thesis was on the Commercial Determinants of Health in Sport.

Dr Fay Laidler

Fay worked as a secondary school teacher and an adult learning trainer from 1995, before starting her PhD in Public Health at the University of Glasgow in 2021.

Her first degree is in English Language, gained in 1987 at Newcastle University. Her PGCE is in Modern Foreign Languages, completed at the University of Northumbria in 1995. She gained a DTLLS in mathematics at Newcastle College teacher training centre in 2010.

Fay completed a Masters in Careers Education and Coaching at the University of Derby in 2021.

Her PhD is funded by The Alliance, Scotland. Fay is exploring the policy roles of women harmed by gambling.

Fay’s research interests include exploring the impact of engaging people with lived experience in policy and research. She was a panel member and co-chair of the UK Gambling Commission Lived Experience Advisory Panel from 2020-2022.

Dr Yekun Sun

Yekun Sun is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Glasgow. She has work as a lecturer in psychology at the School of Psychology and Mental Health, North China University of Science and Technology since 2016. She is interested in researching addiction and gambling elements in video games.

Yekun received a BA in Applied Psychology at the East China Normal University and gained her MSc in Psychological Studies at the University of Glasgow.