Sarah West
Deputy Director and Senior Research Associate



Sarah is currently on maternity leave

Sarah is Deputy Director and Senior Research Associate at SEI York with expertise in citizen science. She has been designing, running, evaluating and researching citizen science projects for nearly a decade, initially on the OPAL project which aimed to engage people from all backgrounds in science and nature through environmental surveys. Whilst working on this project Sarah completed her PhD in the Department of Environment and Geography on the Evaluation of Environmental Education.

Since then, Sarah has been expanding the topics and locations in which citizen science approaches are used, including through work with Parenting Science Gang, a parent-led citizen science project, and developing methods to monitor air pollution in informal settlements in Nairobi.

Key skills

Mixed-methods research (qualitative and quantitative), facilitation, citizen science approaches, interdisciplinary working, communication to a wide range of audiences, participatory mapping,




BA (Hons) Geography – University of Oxford (St Peter’s College)

MSc Biodiversity and Conservation – University of Leeds

PGCAP (Post Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice – University of York

PhD Evaluation of Environmental Education – University of York


2006 – 2008 (all part-time) Volunteer Environmental Education officer TCV York, membership recruiter Soil Association, Administration assistant York Hospitals NHS Trust, Administration assistant (temp pool) University of York.

Departmental roles

  • PhD co-ordinator for SEI York
  • Teaches on two modules in the Department of Environment and Geography – Environmental Systems Project and Data Analysis for Environmental Science.



  • AIR Network -  using methods derived from arts and humanities to explore the issue of air pollution in informal settlements in Nairobi (Kenya)

  • Parenting Science Gang – internal evaluator for this parent-led citizen science project (mainly UK participants)

  • Armistice Bells – advising the “citizen art” elements of this project to create new music based on community-sourced bell recordings

  • Living at Derwenthorpe – evaluating this eco-estate in York (UK) in terms of social and environmental sustainability

  • Citizen Science and the Sustainable Development Goals – exploring the role of citizen science approaches in relation to the SDGs 

Research group(s)

Citizen science and other participatory approaches

Available PhD research projects

Sarah is keen to supervise students who are interested in using citizen science approaches in their work, or who would like to research the citizen science approach. See our post-graduate pages for further information.


Selected publications

Pateman, R and S.West, 2017, How could citizen science support the Sustainable Development Goals? SEI Policy Brief.

West, S.
 and R. Pateman, 2017, Recruiting and retaining participants in citizen science: what can be learned from the volunteering literature? Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 1(2): 15, pp. 1–10.

Eitzel et al, 2017. Citizen Science Terminology Matters: Exploring Key Terms, Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 2(1), pp. 1–10.

Geoghegan, H., Dyke, A., Pateman, R.,  West, S.  & Everett, G.  2016,  Understanding motivations for citizen science. Final report on behalf of the UK Environmental Observation Framework (UKEOF).

West S., R. Pateman, A. Dyke. 2016, Data Submission in Citizen Science Projects, Report for Defra.

West, S.E., A. Owen, K. Axelsson and C.D. West. Evaluating the use of a carbon footprint calculator: Communicating impacts of consumption at household level and exploring mitigation options. Journal of Industrial Ecology. Volume 20, Issue 3. Pages 396–409.

West, S. E., 2015, Evaluation, or Just Data Collection? An Exploration of the Evaluation Practice of Selected UK Environmental Educators. Journal of Environmental Education.

Rich, K.J., M. Ridealgh, S.E. West, S. Cinderby and M. Ashmore, 2015, Exploring the Links between Post-Industrial Landscape History and Ecology through Participatory Methods PLoS ONE 10(8)

Bates, A. J., Lakeman Fraser, P., Robinson, L., Tweddle, J., Sadler, J., West, S. E., Norman, S., Batson, M. & Davies, L., 2015, The OPAL bugs count survey: exploring the effects of urbanisation and habitat characteristics using citizen science. Urban Ecosystems

Forrester, J. M. & West, S. E., 2014, Science and Public Participation: the Democratisation of Science. Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd Edition. 

West, S. E., 2014, Understanding participant and practitioner outcomes of environmental education, Environmental Education Research

Tregidgoa, D.J., West, S.E. and M.R. Ashmore,  2013,  Can citizen science produce good science? Testing the OPAL Air Survey methodology, using lichens as indicators of nitrogenous pollution. Environmental Pollution. Elsevier.

Sarah West

Sarah West

Contacts whilst Sarah is on maternity leave:

-for AIR Network

-for PhD opportunities at SEI York

-for citizen science activities






Sarah co-teaches Environmental Systems Project with Claire Hughes for second-year undergraduates in the Department of Environment and Geography. She also does a few lectures as part of the first year Data Analysis for Environmental Science module and supervises undergraduate dissertations.