Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
We're launching a new website soon and would love your feedback. See the new design
Sociology, Social Policy and CriminologyPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Dr Sien van der Plank BSc, MSc, DPhil

SCDTP Research Fellow

Dr Sien van der Plank's photo
Related links

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.

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.

Useful links:



Research interests

Research interests include

  • Multi-scale analysis using mixed methods of coastal flood risk management across policy domains, organisational stakeholders and households
  • Mixed methods analysis of the form and evolution of stakeholder perceptions toward mining, expected impacts of mining, and experiences of consultation process
  • 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
  • Exploring stakeholders’ understanding of risks and opportunities from Sargassum invasions at a community level, and the regional governance issues.

Her focal areas are:

  • Processes of stakeholder engagement in environmental management
  • Policy discourses in conservation and hazard management
  • Risk attitudes and behaviours to the natural environment in relation to perceived, expected and experienced social and physical changes
  • Integrating public engagement throughout the research process and projects

Recent projects:

  • SARTRAC on transformational developmental opportunities that build equitable resilience for those affected by sargassum seaweed influxes, see
  • PhD on coastal flood risk in England, see 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

Research projects:

SARTRAC 2019-2022

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. 

Affiliate research group

Environmental Change and Sustainability (ECaS)

Sort via:TypeorYear



Guest lecturer on GEOG3057 Adapting to Climate Change and Weather Hazards

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 our website. 

More than Maps workshops, 2020-


More than Maps workshops have been delivered online
More than Maps workshops have been delivered online

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,

MTM is led and delivered by a team of early career researchers
MTM is led and delivered by a team of early career researchers

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 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. 

The Southampton Coastal Wave Tank in action
The Southampton Coastal Wave Tank in action
Southampton Coastal at SOTSEF 2019 on Boldrewood Innovation Campus
Southampton Coastal at SOTSEF 2019 on Boldrewood Innovation Campus

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[SVDP1] . 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

Science outreach, 2017-

STEM ambassador, regular at LifeLab Meet the Scientist programme, guest lecture at Geography Festival 2017 at Bedales School, Petersfield.

Bake Your PhD, 2017

Designed and delivered an open, free event for the Festival of Doctoral Research, showcasing PhD research in the form of cake, encouraging collaboration across disciplines and inviting the public to learn about ongoing PhD research at the University of Southampton.

Dr Sien van der Plank
Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number : 58/4073

Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings