UCL Policy Lab


Our Team

Marc Stears, Director

Contact: m.stears@ucl.ac.uk


Marc Stears is an internationally regarded academic, political strategist, speechwriter and executive educator, who specialises in creating dynamic collaborations between academic researchers and broader society. Currently the inaugural Director of the UCL Policy Lab, Marc has previously been Director of the Sydney Policy Lab at the University of Sydney, CEO of the New Economics Foundation, Professor of political theory at the University of Oxford and chief speechwriter to the UK Labour Party. He enjoys a worldwide reputation as a leadership coach and communications strategist, having supported Board and Executive Committee members for major organisations including for some of the world’s largest companies. In 2024 Marc was announced as UCL's Pro-Provost (Policy Engagement). He is the author of several books from the world’s leading presses, including Out of the Ordinary published by Harvard University Press in 2021. Along with his co-author Tom Baldwin, he has just completed a new book entitled England: Seven Myths that Changed a Nation and How to Set them Straight, due out from Bloomsbury in April 2024.

Phoebe Couzens, Operations Manager and EA


Phoebe Profile 01

Phoebe has a background in operations management, events and administration. Prior to joining the UCL Policy Lab in 2021 she worked at UK in a Changing Europe for 6 years in a variety of different roles through several years of major political developments, as well as steering the project through 2 extensions of funding. Phoebe previous roles were based in the charity and mental health sectors. Outside of work Phoebe is also a practicing artist and is enthusiastic about finding creative approaches to problems to help get past political deadlock.

Tell us about someone who inspired you

Frida Kahlo. Her life is an inspiration – not least in the face of adversity but she was a defiant artist, disruptor, feminist, and political activist who sought to improve the lives of those around her.

Alisha Iyer, Policy and Projects Manager



Alisha joined the UCL Policy Lab to help develop Ordinary Hope in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, as well as managing other projects that foster the Lab’s collaborative ecosystem for change. She is a policy specialist, having previously worked in policy and strategy roles across the civil service, in the Department for Digitial, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Education and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. Her expertise and interests lie in policies around addressing inequalities, including skills and technical education and improving the social mobility and diversity of the UK workforces. She also previously co-founded a community based organisation working with refugees in Southwest Uganda, winning the Alastair Ramsay Award for International Social Responsibility.

James Baggaley, Head of Communications and Engagement 

Contact: j.baggaley@ucl.ac.uk

James Baggaley

James is a policy and communications specialist who has worked on a variety of issues, including climate change, global health and inequality. Before coming to the UCL Policy Lab, James led a team at King's College London, focused on Global Health and International Development. Prior to that James worked at Amnesty International on domestic and international Human Rights campaigns. James is passionate about the Lab's ability to bring together communities and those impacted by policy choices with researchers and policymakers to create genuinely transformative ideas.

Madeleine Breen, Communications and Fundraising Manager

Contact: m.breen@ucl.ac.uk

Maddy Breen

Madeleine is a communications and engagement specialist, with a background in arts and charity marketing, and joined the Policy Lab in May 2024 as our Communications and Fundraising Manager. Previously, she worked at the law reform and human rights charity JUSTICE, managing the charity’s events programme, communications, and membership. Prior to policy work, she worked in marketing across the arts sector, with a focus on theatre and education, including as Marketing Manager for LAMDA.


Jake Cohen, Project Manager - Progressive Ecosystem

Contact: j.cohen@ucl.ac.uk

Jake Cohen
Jake is the project manager for the Lab’s Progressive Ecosystem in partnership with This Day. They are a policy, strategy and partnership specialist, having previously worked on innovative whole-society approaches to addressing complex challenges from supply chain resilience to workforce shortages to pandemic preparedness. Before joining the Policy Lab, they specialised in this collaborative working between Government, Industry and the third sector at the Vaccine Taskforce (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy/ Department for Health & Social Care), Department for Transport and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Outside of policy, Jake has led youth leadership programmes and grew up organising in community and youth organisations. They are excited to bring these two strands together at the Lab supporting the progressive ecosystem to organise, collaborate and maximise their collective impact in partnership with government.

Jennifer Hudson, Chair, Steering Committee

Contact: jennifer.hudson@ucl.ac.uk

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson is Professor of Political Behaviour and Executive Dean, Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences, University College London (UCL).

She is the Director of the Development Engagement Lab (DEL), a multi-country research programme working in partnership with 30 development INGOs and government ministries to understand public support for aid and sustainable development.

Professor Hudson’s research has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Danish Council for Independent Research, Nuffield Foundation and Leverhulme Trust.

Prof. Christian Schuster, Academic Co-Director (Political Science) 

Contact: c.schuster@ucl.ac.uk


Prof Christian Schuster is Academic Co-Director (Political Science) of the UCL Policy Lab and Professor in Public Management. He is a globally recognized expert on data and civil service management, with over 70 publications. Prof Schuster also brings deep expertise to the Lab in co-producing research with public sector organizations, with past or ongoing research collaborations with more than 30 governments around the world. His latest books are “The Government Analytics Handbook: Leveraging Data to Strengthen Public Administration” (co-edited with Dan Rogger and published with the World Bank), and “Motivating Public Employees” (co-authored with Marc Esteve and published with Cambridge University Press). Prof Schuster holds a PhD in Government from the London School of Economics and was previously an Economist with the World Bank.

Prof. Marcos Vera-Hernandez, Academic Co-Director (Economics)



Marcos Vera-Hernandez is Professor of Economics at UCL and a Research Fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. His research focuses on the economics of health in developed and developing countries, combining theoretical models with experimental and quasi-experimental techniques to answer questions concerning health insurance, economic consequences of health-related risk, market failures in health-related markets, the behaviour of health care providers, and household health investment choices. He has won several awards including the 2013 Royal Economic Society prize. He teaches on the Health Economics module for the MSc in Economics, as well as the MSc in Health Economics and Decision Science.