Gill Black

Gill Black

Title: Managing Director
Hometown: Edinburgh, Scotland
Qualification: PhD (CANTAB); B.SC (Hons – GU)
Email address: gill.black@livelihoods.org.za

Gill began her career as a health scientist in 1993. Her experience as an infectious diseases immunologist in Kenya, Brazil, Malawi and South Africa, and regular interactions with research participants in these diverse contexts, catalysed Gill’s transition to the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation (SLF) in 2010. In her capacity as co-director at SLF, Gill now works to engage with people living in townships and informal settings about the public health concerns and health-related research activities that most affect their lives. Gill has developed a core interest in the use of participatory visual methods (PVM) as platforms for action research to foster community mobilization and transform local health practice. Over the past 9 years, Dr. Black has gained extensive experience in a wide range of PVM including digital storytelling, applied theatre, participatory photography and collaborative film-making. She has also developed innovative approaches to working with body mapping and hand mapping as grounded platforms for knowledge exchange and co-learning.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gill has been developing new ideas for how community engagement can be achieved under the circumstances of lockdown, especially with regards to what can be done in marginalized areas of South Africa. She has recently written an article highlighting the need for a dedicated COVID-19 community engagement mobile app that is freely downloadable and data free, as an accurate and reliable ‘go-to’ source of key public health information and community feedback https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2020-04-16-a-free-to-use-covid-19-app-is-the-best-way-to-reach-marginalised-communities/. She is also a strong advocate for the establishment of a community engagement hub in South Africa as a national nerve centre for engagement in public health, health science research and disease outbreaks.

Gill received her qualifications and biomedical training at the Universities of Glasgow, Oxford, Cambridge, London and Stellenbosch. She is an associate researcher at the Ethox Centre, University of Oxford (https://www.ethox.ox.ac.uk/about/overview/research-associates). Gill has lived and worked in Cape Town since 2002.

For a more in-depth and comprehensive view of Gill’s publication history, please visit her Research Gate profile.

Grants Awarded

2019: Co-Investigator; UK Research Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund (£992 388) Title: Water and Fire: Enhancing capacity and reducing risk through 15 ‘Best Bets’ for transformative adaptation with vulnerable residents on the Cape Flats; Duration: 3 years.

2018: Principle Investigator, Wellcome Trust Public Engagement grant (£93 000). Title : Bucket Loads of Health; Duration:12 months.

2016: Principle Investigator, Wellcome Trust International Engagement Award (£33 000). Title: The Heart of the Matter; Duration: 9 months.

2015: Co-Investigator; Making All Voices Count (£75 000) Title: Translating Complex Realities Through Technology: Lessons about government responsiveness in South Africa; Duration: 18 months.

2015: Co-Investigator; Institute of Development Studies Participate Initiative (£30 000) Title: Citizen-led policies for safer and inclusive cities: shifting accountabilities in Cape Town, South Africa; Duration: 12 months.

2015: Principle Investigator, USAID TB Care II (R750 000). Title: Participation in action for the prevention of tuberculosis and HIV in South Africa; Duration: 6 months.

2014: Co-Investigator; Institute of Development Studies Accountable Grant Partnership with the UK Department for International Development (£10 000) Title: Researching collective action with men and boys against gender-based violence; Duration:12 months.

2013: Principle Investigator; Institute of Development Studies Participate Initiative (£10 000) Title: Engaging South African youth in the digital storytelling process on the theme of tuberculosis and HIV; Duration: 6 months.

2013: Principle Investigator; USAID TB Program South Africa (R500 000). Title: Engaging a vulnerable South African community in tuberculosis and HIV prevention using a participatory approach; Duration: 12 months.