Catherine Graves


I am a PhD student at the Priestley International Centre for Climate and the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds. My research explores psychological barriers to pro-environmental behaviour change through the use of virtual reality (VR), with a specific focus on meat consumption. I am passionate about the role of behaviour change to mitigating climate change, and contributing to a sustainable society more broadly. Virtual reality has recently begun to be used as a tool to generate empathy and raise awareness for issues such as the impact of climate change and environmental degradation by organisations at a range of scales, but little research exists into whether this is translated into meanginful, long term behaviour change, therefore this projects hopes to contribute to filling that gap. Alongside this, I have also worked as a Research Assistant exploring Climate Change Education in UK Higher Education Institutions, in the lead up to COP26.

Previously, I worked in Research Support in the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, as well as being the Secretariat Administrator of the Leeds Climate Commission. This was a ground-breaking local initiative, tackling climate change at the city scale, based on partnerships and collaboration and the translation of research to make impactful change. Prior to that, I worked in private energy consultancy and in behaviour change campaigns for the University of Leeds.
I graduated with an MSc Sustainability (Environmental Politics and Policy) (high Merit) from the University of Leeds, having previously graduated from University College London with a 2.1 BSc (hons) degree in Geography.

Research interests

  • Environmental psychology
  • Behaviour change
  • Climate change
  • Climate and energy policy
  • Virtual Reality
  • Decision-making


  • MSc Sustainability (Environmental Politics and Policy); University of Leeds
  • BSc Geography (University College London)

Research groups and institutes

  • Energy and Climate Change Mitigation
  • Sustainability Research Institute