RISCS PhD Placements

Interested in doing a RISCS PhD placement? Contact the RISCS Team.

Nerida Bland, Universities of Exeter and Cardiff
RISCS PhD Placement, June 2023


Nerida Brand is a PhD candidate at the Universities of Exeter and Cardiff. She is currently undertaking a research placement with RISCS, which is supported and funded by the South, West & Wales Doctoral Training Partnership.

Her research focuses on the human experience of digital technologies, particularly the balancing of information sharing with an understanding of cyber risk. She is primarily interested in how these issues are negotiated by vulnerable individuals, such as children and adolescents. Her work with RISCS will investigate how risk and digital responsibility can be communicated in age-appropriate terms, harnessing today’s youth’s unprecedented engagement with digital technologies.

Through this research project, Nerida aims to equip educators with effective classroom resources that will facilitate important dialogue on cyber security and risk. These teaching aids will allow students to troubleshoot potential risks in a safe environment, while empowering them to manage their digital footprint. Nerida’s research aims to promote digital resilience, enabling children to safely navigate a dynamic cyber landscape with boundless possibilities for content creation, socialisation, and expressions of identity.

RISCS PhD placement

Under the mentorship of RISCS Director Genevieve Liveley, I have been given the opportunity to co-design and manage a research project communicating cyber security risks to schoolchildren. My research aims to support and equip those in a position of power, such as teachers and caregivers, to advise, protect, and foster digital resilience in young people.

My research aspires to support a deeper understanding of the complexities of human engagement with digital technologies. It aims to prepare children for today’s rapidly evolving cyber landscape, equipping them to safely navigate its unparalleled opportunities for content creation, socialisation, and expressions of identity. My research will investigate how risk and digital responsibility can be communicated in age-appropriate terms, avoiding the use of fear-based rhetoric, and encouraging individual agency. It will identify ways in which children can be empowered to manage their digital footprint as they grow increasingly proficient with information sharing technologies.

Through my research, I hope to inform the development of policy that recognises children’s vulnerability to cyber risk and addresses the evolving needs of educators in supporting their students. During my placement, I will produce classroom resources that will facilitate important dialogue on cyber security between teachers and their students. By allowing students to troubleshoot potential risks in a safe environment, I aim to enhance their preparedness and capacity to deal with cyber challenges that may arise and otherwise impact negatively on them. This research therefore promotes psychological wellbeing and digital resilience through its focus on user experience and agency.

As a PhD researcher in English Literature, issues of identity, creativity, and textual legacy are central to my research. My placement at RISCS invites me to consider how these issues play out in different contexts, propelling the impact of my research beyond knowledge production and academia. With RISCS, I aspire to create social impact, including attitudinal and behavioural change, and enhanced capacity to cope with cyber risk. By encouraging responsible digital citizenship, my research is firmly aligned with RISCS in addressing the cyber security challenges of the future. Embarking on such an important and interdisciplinary research project is an incredible privilege, as is the opportunity to contribute to policy and, above all, tangibly benefit the lives of users of digital technologies.

Nerida Brand, June 2023
Kester Brookland, University of Bristol
RISCS PhD Placement, May 2024

I am a PhD candidate at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security at the University of Bristol. I am currently researching the intersection of corporate and state interests in the management and administration of online spaces, with an emphasis on the changing landscape of international relations and an increasingly fragmented internet.

I’ve been given the opportunity to work closely with RISCS in examining the ethical component of this topic: when the core ethical principles of corporate governance clash with those of the state and the law, who wins out, and what are the implications for users and inhabitants of online spaces? Over the course of my time with RISCS, I intend to interview several experts and stakeholders based around the upcoming ‘Cyber Statecraft in an Era of Systemic Competition’ workshop, in order to direct further research on the topic. I hope to develop a landscape map of the field and identify key points of contention and convolution.

I am very eager to get to grips with this issue, which in addition to its obvious significance is also highly relevant to my own research interests. My own background is in Politics and Economics, and I am keen to see how pre-existing models of international governance and regulation are warped by a dependence on large-scale corporate actors. A mingling of political and economic theory seems a good match for this mingling of the financial world and the body politic.
Alexander Kopsch, University of Bristol
RISCS PhD Placement, June 2023

I’m a PhD student at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security at the University of Bristol. Rooted in Anthropology as well as International Development, I am keen on exploring the sociotechnical aspects of cybersecurity, with a particular focus on the intersection of policy and culture.

I have been given the incredibly exciting opportunity to undertake an internship of potentially national significance at RISCS. My responsibilities include drafting RISCS’ response to the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology’s (DSIT) white paper entitled “A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation”. I am interviewing key members of RISCS, NCSC and REPHRAIN to provide a critical viewpoint and advice on gaps and security issues compiled through the dialogues and academic research. I also work with PolicyBristol to seek advice on how to present the content of the report. Alongside this, at RISCS I carefully analyse and give my feedback on the press releases about AI that are submitted to them.

The team at RISCS, especially Genevieve Lively and Louise Evans, have been excellent in supporting me during my internship. The management team put me in touch with the right people and pushed me in the right directions, making it a positive experience that is also fruitful for my own research.

Alexander Kopsch, June 2023
Haya Sheffer, Reading School of Art and Cardiff University
RISCS PhD Placement, September 2023


Haya Sheffer is an artist, designer, and AHRC-funded Doctoral researcher at the Reading School of Art and Cardiff University. Her education and career as an industrial and visual communication designer during three decades of the media revolution shaped her research exploring contemporary culture's social, technological, embodied, and political aspects, raising questions on power, control, metanarratives, and biases. Her research involves mixed-media artistic projects. She won prizes, published papers, and presented at conferences, and her works were exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in art museums worldwide.


Contemporary Self Tracking Techniques (CSTT, hereafter), exemplified by the proliferation of wearables, data-gathering sensors, and personal self-measuring methods, are new phenomena unique to the twenty-first century. They are the fruit of numerous novel technological achievements that aim to improve our well-being and help us navigate modern life. They became part of our daily routine, sometimes as extensions of our bodily and cognitive functions. In a broader view, they gain importance due to their ability to reflect various aspects of the current larger episode of the data and communication revolution, which is deeply influenced by scientific and technological logocentric approaches developed by humanity since the Enlightenment era. Furthermore, they are linked to and managed by late capitalist forces that see the individual and their body as a commercial target. In turn, our desire for them is fuelled by our inner perceptions and beliefs shaped under capitalist values.

Anything that revolutionises the way we live, even in seemingly beneficial ways, should be accompanied by critical examination. Besides their benefits, our increasing use and reliance on these devices influence how we perceive ourselves and the world, possibly at the cost of losing other ancient, embodied, multi-layered ways of interpreting reality. Critically examining our motivations for and uses of CSTT and their methods can help generate awareness of the price of our dependence on them, reducing our abilities, options, and possibilities to witness the world. Through this comprehension, we can develop a post-measuring discourse that deconstructs the authority of efficiency and rationality and offers alternative ways of perceiving our surroundings and ourselves.

My “Humanity Measures Itself” study responds to and explores the merge of late capitalist values with our current data-driven society that sanctifies numbers, focusing on the causes and the personal and social implications of the bias in favour of what is perceived as objective information. Within these boundaries, I focus on the consequences of the use of CSTT on the way we perceive our body and self. I ask how design, user experience and other methods are harnessed to influence the way we consume data and today’s CSTT and who benefits. In my placement, I wish to find tangents between the external cyber threats and the internal threats caused by surveying ourselves, such as outsourcing our choice-making, risking our freedom, and weakening our inner abilities.