Profile: Susan J. Smith

Susan J. Smith is currently Professor of Geography and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Durham University. Her work is centrally concerned with the problem of inequality and the pursuit of justice, and this is what has drawn her towards health geography. Susan is also experienced in research management, research strategy development, and research assessment of all kinds, serving as a panel member in the 2001 and 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercises.

Prior to taking up her current post, Susan spent fourteen years as the Ogilvie Professor of Geography at Edinburgh University, and six years as a research fellow in Glasgow. It was at Glasgow University, in the Centre for Housing Research, that she first became interested in the idea of housing for health, and aware of centrality of geography to this project. Since then, she has secured funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Nuffield Foundation and the Scottish Executive for a series of projects exploring the relevance of health for housing opportunities, pathways and outcomes. With colleagues, she has tried to specify: where health conditions feature in systems determining priority access to social rented housing; how health impacts on access to housing finance and on the attainment of home ownership; whether and in what way housing and neighbourhood configure child accident risks; and where health histories and prospects fit into insurance underwriting. She has written over 100 books and articles on these ideas, including a series of papers with her friend and colleague Donna Easterlow, developing a discrimination explanation for health inequalities. She currently holds an ESRC professorial fellowship to expand her research on the complex economy of housing markets, and while health issues are not the main focus of this work, issues around health exclusion, genetic discrimination, and positive recognition for illness experiences, remain firmly on her research agenda.

Susan may be contacted at

Updated: January 2008