Dr Ruth O'Connor

Research Fellow, ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Dr Ruth O’Connor is an engagement and evaluation specialist at the Institute for Infrastructure in Society where she is working with Industry partners to develop indicators for best practice infrastructure engagement. Ruth’s research interests revolve around participatory processes undertaken to address complex problems. She is particularly interested in how we can meaningfully evaluate these processes in ways that capture diverse values and enable learning and improvement. Ruth is motivated by the belief that complex problems can be solved by people with different knowledge and experience working together.

Her PhD research at the ANU Centre for the Public Awareness of Science focussed on two national engagement programs: An Australian case involving environmental managers integrating climate change research into regional planning, and a South African case involving co-production of national river conservation planning by different levels of government and researchers. Before joining Crawford, Ruth worked with researchers from the ANU Fenner School of Environment & Society on developing indicators of research impact and she was a Knowledge Exchange Specialist at the ANU Climate Change Institute.

Ruth started her career as a freshwater scientist with Sydney Water and has worked with other water utilities, governments and communities as a researcher and engagement practitioner.




Research interests

  • Community engagement
  • Deliberative processes
  • Research impact conceptualisation and evaluation
  • Knowledge co-production in public policy contexts
  • Transdisciplinary research processes
  • O'Connor, R, Nel, J, Roux, D et al. 2021, 'The role of environmental managers in knowledge co-production: Insights from two case studies', Environmental Science and Policy, vol. 116, pp. 188-195.

  • O'Connor, R, Nel, J, Roux, D et al. 2019, 'Principles for evaluating knowledge co-production in natural resource management: Incorporating decision-maker values', Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 249, pp. 1-8.