Mikaela Brough

PhD Candidate in Information Security at Royal Holloway, University of London. Mikaela.brough.2022@live.rhul.ac.uk.


I am a PhD researcher in the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway, University of London, working as part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Cyber Security for the Everyday. The CDT is an interdisciplinary doctoral centre for research in cybersecurity, with researchers in cryptography, systems security, and the qualitative/quantitative social sciences.

Research Area

My research is ethnographic in nature - meaning that I both interview people and embed myself socially/physically within the spaces I study. I am not alone in this endeavour, as I am part of an amazing Ethnography Group.

My work explores the digital security practices and perceptions of climate activists in different risky political contexts. From the grassroots to the transnational, my work aims to understand the social, cultural and political dynamics that frame groups’ technological choices. Rather than studying secure/cryptographic technologies through a social lens, I aim to study the social first - building our understanding of security from the ground up. I am supervised by Dr. Rikke Bjerg Jensen and Professor Martin Albrecht, an ethnographer and a cryptographer respectively. My doctoral research is linked to, but not funded by, their EPSRC-funded interdisciplinary project Social Foundations of Cryptography. My work is funded through a EPSRC studentship associated with the CDT.

Current Work

I have spent the last year working on this project in the UK, with the passage of the Public Order Bill Amendments of 2023 providing the backdrop (findings forthcoming). I am currently continuing to work in the UK, but am also exploring these dynamics in the Philippines, with the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 providing the context. I am currently conducting remote interviews for this project in preparation for two research visits to the Philippines - one in the summer of 2024 and a second and much longer visit in the winter/spring of 2025. I will also be attending COP29 in Azerbaijan.


I also like to do things outside my research area. I have a good grasp of things like computer networking (for which I am currently a TA), cryptography, and programming/statistics (mostly Python, though I can mess around in R quite well, and C less so - I am also a TA for Python). During an RA stint at the University of Oxford, I worked in other areas of qualitative social research, hence the two publications on family planning.

I completed my MSc in Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford in 2021 under the supervision of Dr. Ina Zharkevich. I have a BA from McGill University, during which time I worked and volunteered with a number of advocacy groups in Montréal. I also care about things that are not strictly related to digital rights/surveillance – harm reduction, cooking education, language education, the Special Olympics (rhythmic gymnastics), and refugee protections. I worked as a chef for ages, full time for a while, but otherwise in conjunction with other activities. I grew up in southern Ontario, but tend to split my time between London and southern Italy.

Can collaborate in English, Italian, and French. I am currently learning Tagalog and a bit of Bisayan.

latest posts

selected publications

  1. SS
    Fertility decision-making in the UK: Insights from a qualitative study among British men and women
    Mikaela Brough, and Paula Sheppard
    Social Sciences, 2022
  2. SS
    Father–Toddler Bonding during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Qualitative Insights from 17 Families in Britain
    Paula Sheppard , and Mikaela Brough
    Social Sciences, 2022
  3. JASO
    Review of “Benno Herzog, Invisibilization of Suffering: A Moral Grammar of Disrespect”
    Mikaela Brough
    Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford, 2021