Dr Sofia Anthi Vougioukalou

Dr Sofia Anthi Vougioukalou

Research Associate

School of Healthcare Sciences

+44 (0)29 206 88575
+44 (0)29 2091 7803
Room 13.18, Eastgate House, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0AB

I am currently researching the physical, emotional and financial impacts of facing cancer while living alone and co-ordinating and Arts of Health initiative to enable a creative space for discussions about cancer and survivorship. I am also researching involvement and engagement in dementia services research.

My academic interests span anthropology, medical ethnobotany and health care. I am interested in cultural understandings of illness and health, evaluation and impact assessment of services in health and social care, and the intersection of biomedicine with informal and traditional medical systems. I have also researched patient and public involvement and engagement and their contribution to innovation, translation and knowledge exchange. Understanding  conflicting epistemologies in health and social care (within and between professional and service user groups) and translating findings into effective practices can be very challenging and effectively addressed through participatory methodologies. I have used participatory approaches such as Participatory Rural Appraisal, Accelerated Experience-based Co-design and Appreciative Inquiry in organisational and community development with service users and community members with varying levels of literacy, physical and mental health needs.

Previous positions

2013 - 2014: Public Engagement Associate for Health Research, Elizabeth Blackwell Institute (Wellcome Trust) & Integrative Epidemiology Unit (MRC), University of Bristol

2011- 2013: Research Associate and Research Design Service Advisor, Department of Primary Care and Public Health Sciences, King’s College London

2010- 2011: Senior Lecturer in Knowledge Transfer, Centre for Health and Social Care Research, Canterbury Christ Church University

2007-2009: Monitoring & Evaluation Consultant, Department of Social Work, Health and Community, Canterbury Christ Church University

2008-2011: Associate Lecturer, Centre for Flexible Learning  & School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent

2003- 2010: Research and Teaching Assistant, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent

Honours and awards

Health and social care research

2018-19: Understanding how to facilitate continence for people with dementia in acute hospital settings: raising awareness and improving care, NIHR HS&DR, £505,000, CI

2017: The human cost of cancer: addressing the unique physical, emotional and financial implications of facing cancer while living alone (Tenovus Cancer Care Innovation Grant, £29,700, PI

2016: Development of a self-sustaining community of Huntington’s disease walkers in Wales, Wellcome Trust ISSF – Public Engagement, £9,600, CI

2012: Assessing the impact of participatory research, JISC, £20,425, CI

Evaluation and knowledge exchange

2011: Evaluation of early intervention parenting support programmes delivered by Homestart and Canterbury and District Early Years Project, NHS Strategic Health Authority South East, £4,000

2011: Capacity building for the Third Sector in the Canterbury District’, Higher Education Fund for Innovation 4, HEFCE, £3,000

2010: Evaluation of Multi-agency Cascade Services for children at the risk of school exclusion, Kent County Council Children Families and Education Directorate, £4,500

2010: Anthropological approaches to programme evaluation’, Knowledge Transfer Small Awards, HEFCE, £1,000

Educational grants and travel awards

2011: Invited speaker to Open Science Network education colloquium at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Economic Botany in St Louis, National Science Foundation (US) & Texas Botanical Research Institute, $2,000

2010: 'Using online collaborative platforms to facilitate knowledge transfer partnerships between universities and community organisations’, Higher Education Fund for Innovation 4, HEFCE, £2,000

2010: ‘The Kent Cider Ethnobotany Project: using wikis, participatory video and YouTube to enhance teaching and learning about local natural resource uses’, Open Science Network Travel Grant to present at the 51st Annual Meeting of the Society for Economic Botany in Xalapa Mexico, National Science Foundation (US) & Texas Botanical Research Institute, $1,800

2009: ‘Developing e-learning tools for anthropology’, Challenge Fund, Unit for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching, University of Kent, £1,000

2009: Early Career Ethnobiologist Travel Grant to attend the 50th Annual Meeting of the Society for Economic Botany in Charleston, National Science Foundation (US) & Texas Botanical Research Institute, $980

Professional memberships

Fellow, Royal Anthropological Institute

Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing, University of Kent

Public engagement ambassador for Life Sciences and Health, National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement

Committees and reviewing


Patient and Public Involvement Strategy Group, School for Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University

Research and Innovation Committee, School for Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University

Cardiff University Research Staff Association rep for School for Healthcare Sciences


Associate editor, Cogent Social Sciences

Journal reviewer, Journal of Health Organisation and Management

Journal reviewer, Research for All

Grant reviewer, National Institute for Health Research

I am currently in a research-specific position but I guest lecture on a range of courses, focusing on my methodological expertise in ethnography, co-production, transcultural care, visual methodologies, patient and public involvement and public engagement. I have previously taught on a range of subjects related to social and medical anthropology, health and social care evaluation, health inequalities and traditional medical systems.  

I have been module convenor on six courses: Cultures and Societies I and II - introduction to social anthropology (University of Kent), People and Traditional Medicine and People and Medicinal Plants - introduction to ethnobotany (University of Kent), Knowledge transfer and research methods for the voluntary sector (Canterbury Christ Church University), and  Effective engagement and impact: from research design to evaluation  (King's College London). I have previously contributed towards teaching on the Masters in Public Health on ethnography and patient and public involvement.  I have also advised on doctoral, masters and undergraduate dissertations in social as well as health care sciences.

I have researched  co-production in healthcare settings using Experience-Based Co-Design, Appreciative Inquiry, Participatory Action Research and Participatory Rural Appraisal. my research has contributed to the evaluation and foundational understanding of the integration of lay and experiential knowledge into health service improvement for long-term conditions such as cancer and dementia with a view to improving health inequalities.  I use approaches from medical anthropology such as ethnographic and visual methods to understand patients’ experiences of illness, treatment and survivorship.