Webinar: Celebrating 50 years of PopGRG


Wednesday 3rd November 2021

We invite you to join us to celebrate 50 years of the Population Geography Research Group.

This virtual celebration is open to all and free to attend. With contributions from internationally renowned academics the event will reflect on the last 50 years and consider the future of population geography.

We encourage attendance and participation from those who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves population geographers to stimulate cross-disciplinary conversations and networking.

In addition to contributions from the members of the Population Geography Research Group, the discussion panel will be comprised of: Professor Phil Rees, Dr George Tan, Dr James Esson, Professor Brenda Yeoh, Dr Sarah-Marie Hall and Dr Catherine Souch. 

Biographies of Panel Members

Professor Phil Rees: is a Professor Emeritus of Population Geography at the University of Leeds, educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Chicago. He worked as a lecturer, reader, and professor at Leeds from 1970 to 2017. He has researched migration, focussing on its incorporation into population projection models and forecasts, work first presented at a POPGEOG meeting at the University of Durham in the early 1970s. For ten years, 1992-2002, he led the (then) ESRC Census Programme, encouraging the Office for National Statistics and its devolved partner statistical offices to release massive quantities of census information to users, free at the point of use. Under his successors as Census Programme leaders, David Martin (Southampton) and John Stillwell (Leeds), the UK statistical offices extended this access to any interested researcher in the world, for data sets declared safe from disclosure of individual information. Since attaining pensionable age, he has worked with colleagues the generation of ethnic specific population forecasts for local areas throughout the UK. In the past year of Covid-19 and its impact of the health of minority communities, interest in these forecasts has increased and he is currently working with Public Health England to adjust forecasts to more recent population estimates and official surveys. The estimates for the last decade and forecasts for the future will need radical revision when 2021 Census results are published in 2022. He continues to be busy as a reviewer for Population, Space and Place, the journal started by POPGEOG, for numerous other journals, and for research assessment exercises (UK, Hong Kong and the European Union).

Professor Rees is the recipitent of numerous prizes and awards including Gill Memorial Award of the RGS-IBG (1996), Fellow of the British Academy (1998), Commander of the British Empire (2004), Victoria Medal of the RGS-IBG (2009) and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (2013).

The presentation given by Professor Rees can be found here:

Dr George Tan: is a Research Fellow at the Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University (Australia). He was previously a Research Associate at the at the Hugo Centre for Migration (2012-2016) and Population and the Public Health Information Development Unit (2017-2020). George has over 10 years of teaching and research experience in Geography, specifically in the fields of migration and population research. He has a keen research interest in international migration, particularly around international students, skilled migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Some of his recent work includes understanding the post-study migration outcomes of international students in Australia and the experiences of skilled migrants in regional migration programs. His work connects strongly with industry and all levels of government as demonstrated by his recent appointment to the Australian Government’s Ministerial Advisory Council for Skilled Migration (MACSM). George is also collaborating with colleagues from various organisations and Australian universities to host an upcoming forum on exploring the resettlement of refugees in regional Australia which will seek to highlight new and emerging issues in this space.

Dr James Esson: is Reader in Human Geography at the Department of Geography and Environment, Loughborough University. James’ research is broadly located within the fields of critical development studies and population geography, with a focus on Africa. This is expressed in the following three research areas: Firstly, James is investigating the relationship between global inequality and clandestine mobilities. Secondly, he is examining the impact of immigration policies on international student mobilities. More specifically, this British Academy funded project examines how migration statistics are produced, made credible, and used to monitor migrant populations. Thirdly, James is exploring the relationship between population ageing, mobility, and urbanization in Africa. He studied at Newcastle University, the University of Oxford, and University College London.

Professor Brenda Yeoh, FBA: is Raffles Professor of Social Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Research Leader, Asian Migration Cluster, at NUS’ Asia Research Institute. She has been awarded the Vautrin Lud Prize for outstanding achievements in Geography in 2021. Her research interests in Asian migrations span themes such as gender, social reproduction and care migration; skilled migration and cosmopolitanism; higher education and international student mobilities; and marriage migrants and cultural politics. Her recent books include Handbook of Asian Migrations (Routledge, 2018 with G. Liu-Farrer), Student Mobilities and International Education in Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, with R. Sidhu and K.C. Ho) and the forthcoming Handbook of Transnationalism (Edward Elgar, 2022, with F.L. Collins).

Dr Sarah-Marie Hall: is Reader in Human Geography and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow (2021-2025) at the University of Manchester. Her research sits in the broad field of geographical feminist political economy: understanding how socio-economic processes are shaped by gender relations, lived experience and social difference. Her current project explores how austerity has altered the life-courses of young people across the UK, Italy and Spain. She was the 2021 RGS-IBG Gill Memorial Award recipient. 

Dr Catherine Souch, DSC: Head of Research and Higher Education at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). Previously Professor of Geography at Indiana University, USA. Currently oversees the Society’s work with academic and professional communities –  including networks, conferences and workshops, publishing, funding and professional development