Dr Sien van der Plank is a SCDTP Research Fellow based in Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology. She is an interdisciplinary researcher whose current works is on household adaptation to coastal flood risk.
- Multi-scale analysis using mixed methods of coastal flood risk management across policy domains, organisational stakeholders and households.
- Risk attitudes and behaviours to the natural environment in relation to perceived, expected and experienced social and physical changes.
- Mixed methods analysis of the form and evolution of stakeholder perceptions toward mining, expected impacts of mining, and experiences of consultation process.
- Policy discourses in conservation and hazard management, e.g. thematic analysis of political party for animals’ discourses on conservation.
- Monitoring and mapping the distribution of Sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean and West Africa using remote sensing and GIS.
Household adaptation to coastal flood risk, 2016-2022
Coastal flooding is a major concern in England, with significant past and potential future damages. Even with climate change mitigation, the sea level will keep rising: there is a continued need to adapt on the coast to the changing and growing risks posed by a changing climate and society. Despite the wide-held view that flood risk management should take an integrated approach, research into coastal FRM of an interdisciplinary nature remains scarce in England. My PhD research (2016-2020) addressed this gap by undertaking a cross-scale analysis of national policy, organisational and household involvement in coastal flood risk management in England, to develop a more integrated understanding for decision-makers of the challenges facing household adaptation to coastal flood risk.
Climate change is driving an increasing frequency and severity of hazard events experienced by coastal communities. In recent years, significant progress has been made in addressing the social, environmental and economic vulnerabilities of the coastal zone to hazard such as erosion, flooding and cyclones, but climate change brings a speed and intensity of change not previously experienced. Currently I am researching the potential opportunities for households and communities to engage in transformational adaptation on England’s coastlines – adaptations of a much larger time and temporal scale than traditional “incremental” adaptations.
Public engagement projects
Sien has designed and delivered public engagement project across a range of subject areas to diverse audiences, and is always open to new collaborations and partners in this work.
Waves of Change, November 2021
Waves of Change: flooding and heatwaves in Southampton is a series of lesson plans for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) learners to explore the risks of heatwaves and flooding in Southampton today and under climate change scenarios, using examples and language appropriate to this migrant based target audience. With quizzes, games and creative activities crammed into two hours of adaptation talk, the delivery of these lessons in November 2021 brings adaptation research to life with an audience of refugees and asylum seekers who are more likely than other groups to be inadequately supported by standard adaptation strategies. This work is part of a collaboration with the Clear project in Southampton. For more information on this event visit http://esrcfestivalofsocialsciencesouthampton.org/2021_events/
More than Maps workshops, 2020-
More than Maps was launched in 2020 for the Festival of Social Sciences, and has since reached over one hundred children and adults through its workshops, and has expanded into a collaboration across continents and oceans with partners at the University of Ghana, University of the West Indies, The University of Western Australia, and The University of Sydney. More than Maps is a public engagement initiative, aiming to share replicable and open-access skills in mapping and social science analysis, to empower students and young professionals in research supporting climate change adaptation. The project has received funding from the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences and Public Engagement with Research unit seed funding. More than Maps is supported by the British Council and the Australian Government as part of the UK/Australia Season.
For more information visit our website https://morethanmaps.sartrac.org/ or follow us on social media
Southampton Coastal, 2017-2019
Project launched in 2017 with Public Engagement with Research unit seed funding, supported in 2018 with Festival of Doctoral Research funding. This project developed a coastal system exhibit drawing from multiple disciplines, ranging from archaeology to engineering, to highlight the difficulties faced with life at the coast. Each Southampton Coastal member, PhD students at the University of Southampton, designed an exhibit including games, questionnaires and interactive activities that fit within the central coastal system represented. Southampton Coastal reached hundreds of children and adults across social media and a multitude of festivals and events, including BBC Countryfile Live, SOTSEF, Thomas Hardy School Festival, and the Solent Festival of Engineering. Exhibits and materials remain available for use by coastal PhD students at the University of Southampton. Many involved in this project have gone on to design and delivery further public engagement work. For more information, follow Southampton Coastal on social media.
SARTRAC identifies new transformational developmental opportunities that build resilience equitably, for the poorest people affected by mass algal blooms of sargassum seaweed in the tropical Atlantic basin. Specifically, the project identifies drivers of sargassum landings, develop monitoring approaches that are transferable across regions within the basin, and identify adaptation opportunities and challenges generated through the management and re-use of the invasive Sargassum seaweed. Sien worked on this project in 2020-2021 as a Senior research assistant GIS and remote sensing and environmental social science.
External roles and responsibilities
Sien’s research interests are in the response of households and communities to environmental changes anticipated or experienced in their locality. She has researched this across a range of contexts, including mining, conservation, politics, coastal change and coastal flooding.
- Van der Plank, S., S. Brown and R.J. Nicholls. (2021) Managing coastal flood risk to residential properties in England: integrating spatial planning, engineering and insurance. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 52, 101961, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101961
- Van der Plank, S., B. Walsh and P. Behrens. (2016) The expected impacts of mining: Stakeholder perceptions of a proposed mineral sands mine in rural Australia. Resources Policy, 48, 129-136, DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2016.03.005
- Walsh, B., S. van der Plank and P. Behrens. (2017) The effect of community consultation on perceptions of a proposed mine: A case study from southeast Australia. Resources Policy, 51, 163-171, DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2016.12.006
- PhD in Engineering and the Environment, “Managing Coastal Flood Risk in England: An Analysis of Policy, Organisational and Household Perspectives”, University of Southampton (2021)
- MSc Biodiversity, Conservation and Management, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford (2016)
- BSc Global Challenges: Liberal Arts and Sciences, Leiden University College The Hague (2015)
- 2021-present SCDTP research fellow, University of Southampton
- 2020-2021 Senior research assistant GIS and remote sensing and environmental social science (SARTRAC project), University of Southampton
- 2017-2019 Teaching assistant for environmental GIS, University of Southampton
- 2017-2019 Content writer for Life at Southampton blog, Communications and Marketing, University of Southampton
- 2015-2016, Behavioural change green student, Linacre College, Oxford
- Fostering Household Motivation and Capacity for Transformational Adaptation to Coastal Flooding (2021)