Dr Sandra Virgo BA (Hons) MSc MSc PhD

Research Fellow


My academic background is multidisciplinary, beginning in psychology, moving into evolutionary behavioural science, then taking in demography and now epidemiology.

My PhD explored how far health inequalities in England and Wales could account for socioeconomic differences in both attitudes towards abortion; and in likelihood of young women having abortions. To do this I used existing demographic data and methods as well as experimental psychology methods.

Since February 2015 I have been working for The Soapbox Collaborative (alongside colleagues Giorgia Gon and Susannah Woodd), an NGO with a research arm based at the School. With them I have examined obstetric risk and regional inequities in where women deliver their babies in low- and middle-income countries.

I have also worked as part of the Maternal healthcare markets Evaluation Team (MET), specifically the SAGE (Secondary data Analysis for Generating new Evidence) project.

Most recently, I am excited to be involved in joint work between The Soapbox Collaborative and the NGO WaterAid to improve Infection Prevention and Control in maternity units in Malawi and Ethiopia.




I teach on the course Statistics for Epidemiology and Population Health (STEPH).


Accepted pending revision.  Virgo, Sandra, Susannah Woodd, Francesca Cavallaro, Giorgia Gon, and Wendy Graham. “Who delivers where? The effect of obstetric risk on facility delivery in East Africa.” Tropical Medicine & International Health.

Graham, Wendy, Susannah Woodd, Peter Byass, Veronique Filippi, Giorgia Gon, Sandra Virgo, Doris Chou et al. "Diversity and divergence: the dynamic burden of poor maternal health." The Lancet 388, no. 10056 (2016): 2164-2175.

McAllister, Lisa S., Gillian V. Pepper, Sandra Virgo, and David A. Coall. "The evolved psychological mechanisms of fertility motivation: hunting for causation in a sea of correlation." Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371, no. 1692 (2016): 20150151.

Virgo, Sandra, and Rebecca Sear. "Area-level mortality and morbidity predict ‘abortion proportion’in England and Wales." Evolution and human behavior 37, no. 5 (2016): 366-375.

Research areas

  • Behaviour change
  • Equity
  • Fertility
  • Global Health
  • Health inequalities
  • Hygiene
  • Implementation research
  • Maternal health
  • Sanitation
  • Social and structural determinants of health


  • Demography
  • Epidemiology
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences


  • European Union
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)


  • Ethiopia
  • Malawi
  • United Kingdom

Other interests

  • Abortion
  • Deprivation
  • Developed world
  • Developing countries
  • Equity And Equality
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Evolutionary demography
  • Infection Prevention and Control
  • Water Sanitation and Hygiene
  • behaviour
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