About Us

The University of Liverpool research team comprises:

Josie Billington

Professor Josie Billington - Principal Investigator

Josie Billington is Professor in English at the University of Liverpool, specialising in Victorian Literature and literary reading and mental health. She has led a range of interdisciplinary research projects with colleagues in medicine and psychology, in partnership with arts organisations and health partners, regionally, nationally and internationally. She is Impact Lead for the School of Arts and co-leads the Arts, Mental Health and Wellbeing theme of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences of Health Medicine Technology (CHSSoHMT). She is a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Peer Review College, a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellow and Vice-President of the International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature. 

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Katia Balabanova

Dr Ekaterina (Katia) Balabanova - Co-Investigator

Ekaterina (Katia) Balabanova is Reader in Political Communication in the Department of Communication and Media and Associate Dean for Research and Impact in the School of the Arts, University of Liverpool. Her work has a particular focus on the relationship between news media and politics and her most recent projects have focused on the communication of human rights (including in public policy, humanitarian campaigns, business and ethics). She is an expert in qualitative analyses and evaluations of communications strategies with NGO and private sector partners. She has published widely on media and politics with respect to marginalized groups, such as migrants and refugees, including the impact of social media on rights-based communication. 

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Dr Joanne Worsley

Dr Joanne Worsley - Research Associate

Dr Joanne Worsley is a Research Associate coordinating the recruitment of arts organisations in the Liverpool City Region (LCR). She is also responsible for data collection and the qualitative analysis of the data. Joanne was awarded her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Liverpool, and her thesis explored the relationship between mental health, wellbeing and the online environment. Joanne has previously received funding from Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust to undertake an evaluation exploring the impact of partnerships at the Life Rooms. As Mersey Care work alongside a number of creative and cultural partners, Joanne is very familiar with the arts and cultural offer in the LCR, and values the opportunity to work in partnership with arts and cultural organisations through this project.  

Dr Antonina Anisimovich- Research Associate

Dr Antonina Anisimovich is a media and communications scholar with a particular interest in the role of culture and cinema in negotiating traumatic memories. Antonina holds a PhD in Media from Edge Hill University. In her thesis, she explored the role of cinema in coming to terms with the past and used a qualitative mixed-methods approach combining textual film analysis, multiple focus groups with the audiences, and semi-structured interviews with film directors.

Antonina’s broader scope of research interests includes collective memory studies, media memory, cinema-going, post-communist nostalgia, and historical representations on screen. Recently, she has been interested in the role that small independent cinemas play in the local communities, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has published on the role of cinemas in encouraging diversity and inclusivity, as well as on post-communist nostalgia as a social critique of neoliberalism.


Melissa Chapple- Research Associate

Melissa Chapple is undergoing an ESRC funded PhD at the University of Liverpool. Her PhD is exploring the value of literature in supporting autistic adults, with particular focus on how literature can overcome the double empathy problem between autistic and non-autistic adults. She has previously completed an MSc on Research Methods in Psychology, and has a particular interest in combining qualitative analyses for the exploration of the value of arts, with particular focus on reading, in promoting neurodiversity. 

Helen Bryant - Project Coordinator

Helen Bryant is a Project Manager on HE research projects, which focus on heritage and culture. In addition to COVID19 Care, she is the Project Manager on the Antislavery Knowledge Network. She completed a MA in Museum Studies in 2014 and has research interests in heritage, community, social history, migration and labour. Recently, she has been focusing on partnership building in the development sector and how the arts and humanities can provide a critical approach to development funding in order to engage in sustainable and equitable partnerships in the Global South. 

Advisory Board

Advisory Board Members (University of Liverpool) 

Sara Cohen is Professor of Music in the School of the Arts and Director of the Institute of Popular Music. She is an expert on the anthropology of music with particular research interests in place, heritage and cultural memory the relation of music to people’s experience of ageing.

Rhiannon Corcoran is Professor of Psychology and Public Mental Health in the Institute of Life and Human Sciences. Her work explores the psychological, social and environmental determinants of mental distress and wellbeing. Her current projects include the What Works Centre for Wellbeing Community Wellbeing Evidence Programme and the National Institute of Health Research Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast.

Michelle Davies is Impact and Business Development Manager (Research Partnerships and Innovation) for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Christopher Dowrick is Professor of Primary Medical Care in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, with particular interests in primary mental health care. In addition to his university role, he is a General Practitioner with Aintree Park Group Practice, and Chair of the Working Party for Mental Health in the World Organisation of Family Doctors.

Lisa Shaw is Professor of Brazilian Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. She leads the "Cinema, Memory and Wellbeing", project, exploring the use of music and film as a reminiscence tool to improve emotional wellbeing in older people, including those living with dementia, with partners in Merseyside, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.


External Advisory Board Members

Francoise McClafferty is Policy and International Relations Officer, National Museums Liverpool and Co-ordinator of the Federation of International Human Rights Museums.

Dr Kerry Wilson is Senior Lecturer in Arts, Professional and Social Studies at Liverpool John Moores University and Head of Research at the Institute of Cultural Capital, leading research and evaluation projects on cultural work, and its value and impact.

Sarah Lovell is Lead Officer for Culture within the Policy & Strategic Commissioning Directorate for the Liverpool City Region, Combined Authority, with strategic responsibilities to manage the implementation of the LCR Culture & Creative Strategy - supporting and strengthening the role of culture and creativity as core drivers for the success of the City Region.