- Course: PhD in Low Carbon Technologies
- PhD title: Recommendations for enabling delivery of district heating in the UK: A Socio-technical systems perspective
Why did you chose to study for a PhD at the University of Leeds?
I liked the philosophy behind the Leeds Doctoral Training Centre in Low Carbon Technologies. As well as offering a wide choice of research areas to focus on, the centre offered opportunities to develop a broad skills base and gave you experience in industry and in public engagement. I had been working a few years before I came to Leeds for my PhD and it was really important to me to feel like the research I was doing was linked to applications in industry or the policy sphere.
Tell us about your research
I'm researching how we can enable delivery of low carbon heating in the UK. My work draws from engineering, economics and social science disciplines and the wide range of expertise that exist at the University of Leeds has been a great support and source of inspiration for undertaking such interdisciplinary research. I spend a lot of time talking with practioners like local authority officers, district heating developers, national government policy makers and gas distribution operators. Interaction with this range of people has helped to shape how my work has developed, and in return I've tried to make sure my research is accessible and relevant to help them in their work. In 2012 we received some funding from a fuel poverty trust fund to turn our research into a video and online tool to support the work of local authorities when they are thinking about developing low carbon and affordable heating technologies.
What is your favourite part of studying at Leeds?
The wide range of research that goes on in Leeds is really brilliant. There are regular seminars and conferences that you can attend and the breadth of expertise and approaches that you encounter really helps to enhance your research. The community within my research centre is unbeatable as well. There are interesting and intelligent people from all over the world here and I learn so much from the conversations that go on around me.
What activities do you take part in outside of your studies?
I've been lucky enough to integrate quite a lot of activities with my studies. I did a work placement at the University of Hong Kong in my first year, where I was editing a book looking at the progress in environmental protection during China's "mega events" such as the Beijing Olympic Games and the Shanghai World Expo. I've also worked with the Scottish Government managing an EU project called Stratego, where we ran coaching sessions for local authorities to support them to deliver district heating.
I also loved taking part in public engagement activities during my time at Leeds. We've run workshops for both children and adults at science festivals, made videos, wrote blogs and we even sent a group to run the Energy Factory in the science zone of the Green Man Festival. We focused on low carbon technologies and the choices that we have to make as a society about how we are going to mitigate climate change.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I want to keep working to deliver low carbon energy solutions and mitigate climate change. My ideal role would be working to influence national policy decisions around energy, either within an academic research centre or within a think tank or NGO.