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Associate Professor Stephen Bell

Principal Research Fellow & Theme Lead – Social Science and Global Health
Steve Bell

A/Prof Stephen Bell is a senior social scientist, advisor and international development research consultant with 23 years’ experience tackling global health challenges in settings across South-East Asia, Africa, Western Pacific and Europe. He works respectfully with not-for-profits, public institutions, businesses and community organisations, using innovative, inclusive, people-centred approaches to identify sustainable solutions to critical health challenges and accelerate health equity.

As Principal Research Fellow and ‘Theme Lead - Social Science and Global Health’, Steve’s role includes: 

  • Research on young people's sexual, reproductive and maternal health, including adolescent-responsive health services and systems, contraceptive innovation, safe abortion, enabling socio-structural environments, and the intersections of health and climate change;

  • Providing methodological expertise, technical support and mentoring in social science, co-design and community-based, community-led research practice to global health projects and business development across working groups and programs;

  • Supporting a growing regional network of youth research, advocacy and thought leadership hubs across Asia and the Pacific;

  • Managing and delivering consultancy, advisory and research work for institutional partners.

Steve’s work brings together lived experience, socio-ecological systems thinking and social theory to understand what works (or not) in global health and social development. He has researched and published widely on HIV, sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, neglected tropical diseases, TB and Indigenous health. He is particularly interested in understanding the socio-structural determinants of health and social inequities, and injustices associated with marginalisation due to gender, sexuality, age and geography. He has published two edited collections on interpretive and community-led approaches in research, design, monitoring and evaluation: ‘Peer research in health and social development: international perspectives on participatory research’ (2021), and ‘Monitoring and evaluation in health and social development: interpretive and ethnographic perspectives’ (2016). Steve is currently taking on new PhD students who are interested in undertaking research in any of these areas, so please do reach out to him for a chat.

He holds associate professorial appointments at Melbourne University, UNSW Sydney and The University of Queensland, and is a Member of the International Editorial Board at Culture, Health & Sexuality. Steve has served as a Senior Advisor to the Boston Consulting Group, and has worked in senior research and consultancy roles with international governments, NGOs, UNAIDS, UNFPA and WHO.

  • 2009: PhD in Global Health and Sustainable Development, University of London, UK
  • 2003: MA in Environment and Development (with Distinction), University of London, UK
  • 2000: BA Hons. in Human Geography, University of Leeds, UK
  • Honorary Principal Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne (2024 – present)
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Kirby Institute for Infection and Immunity in Society, UNSW Sydney (2023 – present)
  • Research Consultant, Strategy and Insights Department, Population Services International (2023 – present)
  • Senior Advisor, Global Health Consulting and Strategy, Boston Consulting Group (2023)
  • Honorary Associate Professor, School of Public Health, The University of Queensland (2022 – present)
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney (2022 – 2023)
  • Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney (2015-2021)
  • Sep 2023-present: Principal Research Fellow, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program, Burnet Institute, Australia
  • 2021-2022: Associate Professor, UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, The University of Queensland, Australia
  • 2015-2021: Senior Research Fellow, Global Health Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, Australia
  • 2013-2015: Research Fellow, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney, Australia
  • 2012-2013: Senior Technical Advisor – Research, M&E and Social Development, Options Consultancy Services, UK
  • 2011: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Sussex, UK
  • 2010-2012: Director, Bell & Payne Research & Consulting, UK
  • 2007-2010: Research Manager, Social Research Institute, Ipsos MORI, UK
  • 2003-2007: Assistant Lecturer, Centre for Developing Areas Research Group, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
  • 2001: Peer Educator – HIV and SRH, Restless Development, Zimbabwe
  • 2020-2021: UNSW Bridging Fellowship, Faculty of Medicine & Health, UNSW Sydney
  • 2019: Australasian Sexual Health Conference Sexual Health Society of Victoria Best Poster Award
  • 2011: Postdoctoral Fellowship, Economic and Social Research Council, UK
  • 2003-2007: PhD Studentship, Economic and Social Research Council, UK
  • 2003: ‘Alan Mountjoy’ Prize - best independent dissertation on international development (2003)
  • 2002-2003: MA Scholarship, University of London, UK


Book chapters

Technical reports and policy briefs