Dr Saffron O'Neill
Associate Professor in Geography
Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK
*** Go to Saffron's Research and Teaching Webpage to view her most up-to-date information (inc. publications, teaching resources, etc.). ***
Saffron O’Neill is Associate Professor in Geography. Her research explores the social science dimensions of climate variability and climate change. She particularly focuses on risk perception, risk communication and public engagement with climate change; and the implications of these areas for public policy. She has previously held positions at the University of Melbourne and the University of East Anglia.
Saffron held an ESRC Future Research Leader fellowship from 2012-2017. This fellowship, ‘Visualising Climate Change’, aimed to increase understanding of the representations and power of visual imagery for engaging people with climate change. Saffron is interested in the diverse places in which people experience weather and climate change in their everyday lives: from personal attachments to valued places, to interactions on social media platforms like Twitter.
Saffron won the 2011 UK Scopus Young Researcher Award for Social Science, awarded by Elsevier and the UK/US Fulbright Commission. The prize is awarded to early-career researchers, based on citation data and jury assessment. Saffron’s website gives details of her research, the people she collaborates with, and her publications.You can also follow her on Twitter @SaffronJONeill. Saffron had two year-long periods of maternity leave in 2015-16 and 2017-18. She continues to balance her family and work lives by working part-time (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday).
Broad research specialisms:
- Public engagement with climate change
- Legacy and social media representations of climate change
- Visual representations of, and engagment with, climate change
- Climate change adaptation and maladaptation
- Science / policy interface
BSc Geography (University of Southampton: First Class Honours)
PhD in Environmental Science (University of East Anglia)
Please see below for my student office hours. Note, these times may have to be changed at late notice due to teaching changes etc. Please check this page before you come along.
WEEK ONE: Weds 25 September 11.30-12.30, Thurs 26 September 08.30-09.30
WEEK TWO: Weds 2 Oct 09.00-10.00, Weds 2 Oct 11.30-12.30
WEEK THREE: Weds 9 Oct 08.30-09.30, Weds 9 Oct 11.30-12.30
WEEK FOUR: Weds 16 Oct 10.30-11.30, Weds 16 Oct 15.00-16.00
WEEK FIVE: Thurs 24 Oct 11.30-12.30, Thurs 24 Oct 13.00-14.00
WEEK SIX: Thurs 31 Oct 09.00-10.00, Thurs 31 Oct 14.00-15.00
WEEK SEVEN: Mon 4 Nov 09.00-10.00, Mon 4 Nov 13.30-14.30
WEEK EIGHT: Mon 11 Nov 09.00-10.00, Mon 11 Nov 13.30-14.30
WEEK NINE: Wed 20 Nov 13.30-14.30, Thurs 21 Nov 14.30-15.30
WEEK TEN: Wed 27 Nov 09.00-10.00, Wed 27 Nov 11.00-12.00
WEEK ELEVEN: Wed 4 Dec 10.30-11.30, Wed 4 Dec 13.30-14.30
If you cannot make these times due to scheduled lectures, please email me to make an appointment.
Please note, I work part-time (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday). I will respond to queries during office hours of my working days.
Research group links
Saffron's research is interdisciplinary, focusing on the social science dimensions of climate variability and climate change. Her work explores risk perception, risk communication and public engagement with climate change; and the implications of these areas for public policy. She has experience in using diverse social science methods. She has published research using survey, interview, focus group, expert elicitation, photo-elicitation and Q methods; and content and frame analysis.
Saffron currently holds an ESRC Future Research Leader fellowship, 'Visualising Climate Change'. The fellowship aims to increase understanding of the representations and power of visual imagery for engaging people with climate change. Specifically, it is exploring both top down visual representations of climate change (in newspapers, on TV, on social media) and bottom up climate imagery (through a photo-elicitation project exploring adaptation to sea level rise).
Saffron also led a HASS seed funded project 'Media and the cultural politics of climate change: tracking the coverage of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. This was an interdisciplinary project, involving colleagues in Bioscience, Psychology and Politics; exploring climate change coverage arising from the reporting of the three IPCC Working Groups. The project tracked coverage on TV, in newspapers and on the social media platform Twitter and carried out a frame analysis of this data.
Saffron's research has contributed to the development of public policy. She has contributed to research about community safety concerning bushfire risk (including a report for the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission); and in defining and assessing maladaptation in the water sector. She has also contributed to public engagement with climate change activities beyond academia, with past projects including a silver medal-winning garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 'The 2050 Garden'.
2017 – 2020 ESRC +3 SWDTC PhD Award: ‘Children’s conceptualisations of climate change: prevalent discourses and potential for action’ (co-I)
2016 – 2020 ESRC 1+3 SWDTC PhD Award: ‘Following the forecast: risk, uncertainty and the life of seasonal weather forecasts’ (co-PI)
2012 – 2017 £214,811 ESRC Future Research Leader award: ‘Visualising climate change’ (PI)
2014 - 2015 £198,044 ESRC Urgency Grant: 'The 2013/14 winter floods and policy change: the dynamics of change in the aftermath of major crises’ (co-I)
2011 – 2012 AU$19,103 (£11,880) Early Career Researcher Grants Scheme, Melbourne University, Australia: ‘Visualising climate change: international perspectives on mitigation and adaptation’ (PI)
Publications by category
Publications by year
External Engagement and Impact
Commissioned by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission in 2010 to analyse emergency response following the 2009 Australian bushfires, and this influenced subsequent policy change in Victoria.
- GEO2317 Climate change: science and society
- GEO3134 Making carbon public: risk, climate and the politics of energy
- GEO2310 Human geography practice
- GEO1110 Investigating Human Geographies
Supervision / Group
- Phil Johnstone (now at University of Sussex)