Melissa Leach

Melissa Leach is Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. She co-founded and co-directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre (www.steps-centre.org) from 2006 – 2014.

United Kingdom

As a social anthropologist Melissa Leach has carried out long-term ethnographic fieldwork in West Africa while engaging with scientific, policy and public discourses and debates around health, sustainability and development.

She has led numerous interdisciplinary, policy-engaged research programmes in Africa and beyond. Amongst external roles, she was  vice-chair of the Science Committee of Future Earth 2012 – 2017, lead author of the 2016 World Social Science Report 2016 on Challenging Inequalities and the UN Women’s World Survey on the Role of Women in Economic Development 2014, and is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food).

She was the lead social scientist in the UK/WHO responses to the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak and co-led the award-winning Ebola Response Anthropology Platform. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and in 2017 was awarded a CBE for Services to Social Science.

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