Rachael joined ISF in mid-2017 as a Research Consultant and PhD Candidate. Rachael has a background in the environmental and social sciences, with experience in food system sustainability, social theory and research, and waste minimisation and resource recovery across government and non-government sectors.
Rachael’s interdisciplinary PhD research focuses on the role of the built environment and social practices in creating healthy and sustainable indoor living environments in Sydney, Australia. Her research aims to improve our understanding of the social and material dynamics that influence how microbes, chemicals and other environmental factors interact to contribute to polluted indoor environments. The driving purpose of this research is to inform the development of more healthy and sustainable urban environments into the future.
Prior to joining ISF, Rachael worked as a Waste Project Officer in local government, responsible for social change programs to improve recycling and waste reduction. Before this, Rachael worked on international research projects examining global food flows, urban food security, and the drivers of food waste in Australia.
Rachael’s research interests include the circular economy, food waste, and environmental risk, particularly in relation to health and pollution.
- BA/BSc (Hons 1), Australian National University - Bachelor of Arts (International Relations)/ Bachelor of Science (Human Ecology)
- Society for Human Ecology
- Society for Social Studies of Science
- Waste minimisation and resource recovery
- Social theory and research methods
- Systems thinking
- Sustainable consumption and production
- Social Practice Theories
The post-war introduction of new chemicals to consumer products created a range of complex environmental health issues. Despite recent evidence demonstrating the issues associated with using particular chemicals in the home, responses from industry and regulators have failed to account for the complex ways that chemicals interact with each other, humans and microorganisms to cause harm. This paper draws together the scientific and social science literature to make two key contributions: first, it demonstrates why investigating everyday practices will be crucial to improve knowledge of how human/environment interactions in the home are contributing to certain health conditions; second, it draws on examples of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals to show how these health conditions cannot be addressed by replacing individual products, or chemicals, as many toxic ingredients have become central to the functionality of interdependent networks of products, and the routines they enable. By failing to engage with these issues, future research and planning to establish healthy homes will not be able to account for these crucial sources of harm. We conclude that further research addressing indoor environmental health should expand the boundaries of inquiry across disciplines and knowledge perspectives to analyse how social practices structure micro-scale interactions between humans, microbes and chemicals, in the home.
Wakefield-Rann, R, Fam, D & Stewart, S 2019, 'Microbes, chemicals and the health of homes: integrating theories to account for more-than-human entanglements', BioSocieties.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Lee, T & Wakefield-Rann, R 2018, 'Design Philosophy and Poetic Thinking: Peter Sloterdijk’s Metaphorical Explorations of the Interior', Human Ecology Review, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 153-170.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This article makes the argument that Peter Sloterdijk’s philosophy provides a useful and thought-provoking basis for studies of contemporary indoor ecologies. Sloterdijk’s philosophy is distinctively attentive to the various environments in which humans exist and of the ecological situation of beings in general. e notions of interiority explored in Sloterdijk’s work, particularly the third volume of his Spheres trilogy Foams (2016), provide important tools for conceptualizing the changing nature of indoor spaces and contemporary modes of being in the world. Sloterdijk’s approach to philosophical analysis exhibits a number of interrelated advantages that mesh well with the ambitions of human ecology, particularly in relation to indoor ecological conditions. ese include his sustained conceptual exploration of technological and scienti c developments, his distinctive use of rhetoric and philosophy in the characterization of human agency, and the close attention he pays to the relationship between being and design. is article unpacks the value of these perspectives through a sustained attention to Spheres III: Foams and aims to demonstrate why Sloterdijk’s work provides an invaluable philosophical tool kit to foreground and unite scholarship in diverse elds exploring the relationship between interior spaces, human perception, and society.
Wakefield-Rann, R & Fam, D 2018, 'Initiating a Transdisciplinary Conversation to Improve Indoor Ecologies', Human Ecology Review, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 3-23.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Wakefield-Rann, R, Fam, D & Stewart, S 2018, '“It’s Just a Never-Ending Battle”: The Role of Modern Hygiene Ideals and the Dynamics of Everyday Life in Constructing Indoor Ecologies', Human Ecology Review, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 61-80.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Indoor spaces have not traditionally been considered the domain of human ecology. ey have been the subject of cultural, architectural, and sociological inquiry, and more recently the site at which various pathogenic or toxic encounters may be studied; yet, these concerns have rarely been investigated as part of one uni ed and codependent ecology. is special issue aims to remedy this dislocation by beginning a conversation between a range of disciplinary perspectives concerned with the indoors. is ambition is not only linked to a desire to articulate and connect multiple interacting variables operative in indoor spaces, but also to address both a number of factors that are increasingly creating indoor environmental conditions that are suboptimal for human habitation, and the broader more-than- human ecosystems in which they are situated. Although certainly not exhaustive in scope, the research presented in this special issue provides an exemplary pro le of situated knowledge that must form the basis of future, integrative, transdisciplinary research into indoor ecologies. Spanning design, architecture, social and human ecology, environmental psychology, sociology, mycology, biotechnology, spatial sciences, statistics, engineering, philosophy, and “lay” and experiential knowledge perspectives, this special issue uncovers a number of the challenges and fertile points of overlap across epistemological approaches and areas of concern within the indoors. e goal of this issue is to highlight the points of divergence, and, more crucially, the points of convergence from which a new transdisciplinary approach to indoor research can emerge.
Wakefield-Rann, R 2017, 'More Than Skin Deep: A Service Design Approach to Making the Luxury Personal Care Industry More Sustainable' in Gardetti, MA (ed), Sustainable Management of Luxury, Springer Singapore, pp. 211-231.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Wakefield-Rann, R, Lee, T, Pandolfo, B & Florin, N Institute of Sustainable Futures and Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building 2019, Addressing Expanded Polystyrene Waste Through A Closed-Loop System Using Digital Technologies: University of Technology Sydney Pilot Study, UTS.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Australia exports some EPS to be recycled overseas, but we have less than one collection point per state. All of this means that The NSW Evironmental Protection Agency estimates that some 12,000 tonnes of EPS is sent to landfill every year. According to the Australian Plastics Recycling survey, about 14% of EPS is recovered for recycling. Most of that is exported – only around 1.6% of all the EPS used in Australia is recycled here.
This is why many researchers are looking for ways to re-purpose EPS, taking advantage of this very useful material and keeping it out of landfill.