GW4 CRUCIBLE 2021 Transitions to Net-Zero in the Time of Covid-19


Find out more about the GW4 Crucible 2021 theme and application process.


Dr Jesse F. Abrams Dr Jo Garrett Dr Okechukwu Okorie
Dr Ed Atkins Dr Adrian Gonzalez Dr Shawn L. Platt
Dr Jess Britton Dr Tessa Gordelier Dr Anush Poghosyan Hopes
Dr Ruth Cherrington Dr Rachel Hale Dr Neetesh Saxena
Dr Catherine Cherry Dr Pan He Dr David Shackleton
Dr Siân de Bell Dr Yolanda Hill Dr Elspeth Spence
Dr Lorna Duncan Dr Faryal Khalid Dr Yixian Sun
Dr Oscar Fitch-Roy Dr Christopher Lee Dr Eleni Toumpanaki
Dr Andrea Folli Dr Kristin Liabo Dr Stuart Walker
Dr Daniel Fosas de Pando Dr Liz Marks Dr Rebecca Windemer

Dr Jesse F. Abrams, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Exeter

Jesse Abrams is a Postdoctoral Researcher Fellow in the Global Systems Institute and Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Exeter. After receiving his M.Sc. in Environmental Physics and obtaining his Ph.D. in Geosciences in Germany he spent two years working as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research with a focus on ecological and biodiversity modelling in the context of conservation. His current research examines the use of innovative data science methods for integrating data from multiple sources to calculate SDG metrics and developing new data-driven assessments of sustainable pathways. Currently, Jesse is applying mathematical methods to address questions of ecosystem resilience, evaluate climate change risk, and model the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak. He is also interested in exploring new methods of data visualization for real world applications, with a focus on translating scientific results into easy-to-understand graphics.



Dr Ed Atkins, Lecturer, University of Bristol

@ edatkins_

Dr Ed Atkins is a Lecturer at the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol. His expertise lies in interdisciplinary work at the intersection of political economy, environmental governance, and social justice – seeking to understand what socially-inclusive environmental policy might look like.  His track record demonstrates an ability to cross disciplinary boundaries in tackling complex research questions, particularly with regards to the challenges of environmental change. Current interdisciplinary projects include international work investigating the links between climate resilience and patterns of equity and equality, work on understanding how Covid-19 has changed local community’s perceptions of climate change in Bristol and of the aviation sector, and new work exploring a post-Covid recovery in south-west England. All projects are focused on the use of deliberative, participatory methods to elicit localized stories and epistemologies that ‘make sense’ of environmental change and policy.



Dr Jess Britton, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Exeter


Jess is a Research Fellow in the Energy Policy Group at the University of Exeter working on the local governance needs for smart, flexible energy systems. Jess’ research is focussed on understanding the role of decentralised actors in achieving a net zero energy system, and how this relates to local, regional and national governance structures. This incorporates research on interactions between decentralised energy systems and political devolution, the role of local governments, as well as smart cities and how energy business models are changing. Her PhD examined the development of heat networks in the UK and Germany with an emphasis on the role of municipal utilities. She is currently an ESRC post-doctoral fellow and previous worked on the EPSRC project IGov (Innovation and Governance for future energy systems). 



Dr Ruth Cherrington, Research Fellow, University of Exeter

Ruth is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Circular Economy at the University of Exeter with over 10 years of experience working at the interface of business and academia. She is currently working on a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project that provides focussed support to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) based in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (C&IoS) helping them to realise their growth potential through innovation. The project aims to improve productivity and deliver economic growth by stimulating early stage Research Development and Innovation (RD&I) activity. Her research within this is looking at the role of innovation within circular economy across individuals and organisations. She is also interested in how certain values (such as environmental sustainability) impact and direct innovation and how emerging innovation ecosystems are supporting the businesses within them.



Dr Catherine Cherry, Research Associate, Cardiff University

Catherine completed a BSc in Environmental Science (2008) and MSc in Climate Change: Science and Society (2010), before moving to Cardiff University to complete her PhD in Environmental Social Science (2015). Using qualitative methods to explore public understandings and discourses surrounding climate change and energy issues, her research looks at how social understandings, values and imaginaries shape and interact with efforts to transition towards low-carbon futures. Catherine is now a Researcher Co-I at the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), where she leads a visioning project to explore public perceptions of transformational lifestyle change, both at the systems-level and in relation to four particularly challenging areas: food, mobility, consumption and comfort. She is also currently involved in ongoing research investigating the role of citizens’ assemblies in tackling climate change and is in the process of analysing the effectiveness of the recent Climate Assembly UK.



Dr Siân de Bell, Impact Fellow, University of Exeter


Sian is an interdisciplinary researcher with a background in ecology and public health. She studied BSc Biology at the University of Bristol before moving to the University of York for her PhD which investigated the links between freshwater blue space and health and wellbeing. In 2018, she moved to the European Centre for the Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) at the University of Exeter, where she is currently an Impact Fellow, working with stakeholders in the south west to support investment in nature for health. Sian’s expertise is in the integration of the health benefits of natural environments into environmental decision-making. She is interested in the translation of research to support decision-making and how this can inform inclusive decision-making processes.



Dr Lorna Duncan, Senior Research Associate, University of Bristol


Lorna obtained a BSc in Applied Biology at Coventry University and a PhD from her research into oestrogen production in hormone-dependent breast cancer at Imperial College, London. She then completed a PGCE at Roehampton Institute London and taught biology at secondary, further education and higher education levels. She also pursued her interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), first training as a naturopathic practitioner and then returning to research with a particular focus on CAM and medicines optimisation. Since joining the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol in 2011 she has gained additional skills in qualitative methodologies and now works as a mixed methods researcher. She is currently a senior research associate working on a trial of mistletoe for the alleviation of chemotherapy-related side effects in breast cancer, as well as a systematic review of self-management techniques for people with heart failure-related fatigue.



Dr Oscar Fitch-Roy, Research Fellow, University of Exeter

Oscar obtained a BSc degree in physics from Southampton University in 1999. Following a career in the marine and manufacturing sectors and after studying economics with the Open University and completing an MSc in energy policy at the University of Exeter, in 2011, he moved into the renewable energy industry as a public policy consultant. In 2017, he was awarded his doctorate from the University of Exeter based on EPSRC-funded research into the role of lobbying on EU climate and energy policy. Since 2015, he has been supported by consecutive awards from the EU Horizon 2020 programme to develop a research profile in the field of public renewable energy auctions. In 2020, he began work on a project funded by an ESRC New Investigator Grant that aims to explore the role of ‘institutional entrepreneurs’ in creating the conditions for new offshore wind energy industries. In future work, Oscar is especially interested in understanding and informing how strategic actors engage with and shape the politics, policy, and wider institutional fields that govern societies’ transition to a net-zero economy.



Dr Andrea Folli, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Cardiff University


Andrea obtained his Master degree (1st) in chemistry at the University of Milan (Italy) and went on to complete a PhD at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland after two years working as a new business and applications scientist for Sasol, one of the largest chemicals manufacturer in the world. After obtaining his PhD, Andrea moved to Denmark to work for the Danish Technological Institute, where he led a large European Consortium on solar-driven photocatalysis. Andrea is now working as a senior research associate in the School of Chemistry at Cardiff University. His most current research is looking at the role of the intrinsic magnetism of electrons in chemical reactivity and catalysis, examining ways to exploit it to improve materials for solar-to-chemical energy conversion and catalysts. Andrea is extremely keen to communicate and explore the role of green solar technologies in decarbonising our society, our economy and our lives.



Dr Daniel Fosas de Pando, Research Associate, University of Bath


Daniel graduated in Architectural Engineering at the University of Seville and went on to work in industry while specializing in building services and renewable energy. Thanks to the laCaixa fellowship, he completed a MSc in Environmental Design at the University of Bath. Here, he pursued a PhD in indoor overheating, which investigated building performance and health risks in dwellings and refugee shelters in collaboration with the projects COLBE and Healthy Housing of the Displaced. He now works as a research associate for the Active Building Center Research Programme in the area of design, delivery and performance evaluation of grid-supporting net-zero carbon buildings. His research examines how buildings mediate between their occupants and the climate to deliver comfortable, healthy and resilient conditions in a decarbonized society, having collaborated with researchers from the departments of engineering, computer science, social sciences and psychology.



Dr Jo Garrett, Research Associate, University of Exeter


Jo has experience in multiple disciplines, with a BSc in Marine Biology and a PhD in the effects of marine renewable energy on the environment. Jo’s research focuses on human-nature interactions including, including the effects people have on the environment, the ways people interact and the effects nature has on people. Jo is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter. For the past three and a half years, Jo has worked on the BlueHealth project, using large-scale survey analysis to explore links between aquatic environments and human wellbeing. From January 2021, Jo will be on the REGREEN project valuing Nature Based Solutions for human well-being.



Dr Adrian Gonzalez, Disglair Lecturer, Cardiff University


I have an interdisciplinary academic background with degrees in History (De Montfort University), War Studies (King’s College London) and Human Geography (Royal Holloway, University of London). As a political geographer, I explore natural resource governance and conflict, social participation, environmental justice, and sustainable development, particularly in Latin America and Africa. Underpinning my research is the exploration of how natural resources and environmental pollution generate injustice and inequality and how communities and other actors seek to address these issues. My most recent research is exploring the contestation between the Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Targets and the impact that this has on sustainability policy. I am currently a Lecturer in Human Geography and Planning at Cardiff University and was awarded the post through the prestigious “Darlithwyr Disglair” (Brilliant Lecturers) scheme for early career academics. I have previously taught at the Universities of York, London, and East London.



Dr Tessa Gordelier, Senior Research Fellow, University of Exeter

Tessa obtained her Renewable Energy doctorate at the University of Exeter and her Mechanical Engineering MEng at Bristol University.  She is a Chartered Engineer and Chartered Energy Engineer.  Following her MEng she began working in a renewable energy consultancy focused on domestic scale renewable energy systems and heat pump technology.  This was followed by 4 years as the Energy Manager at the University of West of England, with responsibility for carbon reduction, energy purchasing and energy legislation compliance across the universities four main campuses.   During this position she completed the European Energy Management Qualification.  Her passion for research and the sea led her back to university to complete a PhD in wave energy system reliability.  Since completing her PhD, she has worked across many projects in the marine renewable energy field as Research Associate, Research Fellow, and now as a Business Research Fellow supporting SMEs with innovation in this sector. 



Dr Rachel Hale, Research Associate, Cardiff University


Rachel obtained her BA (Hons) Humanities (Sociology), PGCE (PCET) and MSc Social Science Research at the University of Glamorgan/South Wales and went on to complete a PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Nottingham. She is now working as a postdoctoral researcher at Cardiff University. Her most current research is split into two areas.  One is examining the opportunities and dangers of the future impact of Covid-19 on the carbon footprint of scientific conferences and meetings.  The other is examining the role of nurses’ professional judgement in nurse staffing decisions.  Rachel is extremely keen to investigate where and how the carbon footprint of science could be reduced by utilising remote conferences and meetings, while ensuring the least danger to future science.



Dr Pan He, Lecturer, Cardiff University


Pan obtained her BS and MS degree in environmental science at Nanjing University before she completed her PhD study at University of Maryland in the United States. Before joining Cardiff University as a lecturer, she has also worked as a postdoc at Tsinghua University. She is broadly interested in exploring how human behavior affects the natural environment, and in examining how policy can lead to consumer behavior change that improves sustainability. Her current research concerns how the food consumption patterns result in specific interconnected environmental and health impacts and what are the opportunities and challenges in realizing dietary sustainability, empirically examining the effect of climate change and air pollution on human activities such as driving and tourism, as well as the effectiveness of environmental and energy policies at the micro-level. She is keen to communicate with scholars and stakeholders for interdisciplinary collaborations and engagement of policy design support.



Dr Yolanda Hill, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Exeter


Yolanda completed her undergraduate degree in Biology with Psychology at Queen Mary University of London, before undertaking her PhD in cardiac computational electrophysiology at King’s College London. She now holds a Fellowship from the Medical Research Council to study methods to improve the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. She collaborates with a number of clinicians, healthcare providers, medical technology companies and other academics in computer science and mathematics. One of her current projects involves developing a framework to facilitate remote patient care and monitoring and is particularly keen to explore ways in which the healthcare industry can move towards Net-Zero whilst improving efficiency in clinical care.



Dr Faryal Khalid, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Exeter


Faryal completed her BSc in Earth and Space Sciences at Jacobs University Bremen, Germany in 2014 specialising in Oceanography. She then received her PhD in Offshore Renewable Energy from the University of Exeter in 2019 focusing on establishing risk-return metrics to facilitate location-intelligent decision making in the offshore wind energy sector. She has been working on research and innovation projects with industrial and academic stakeholders in the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) sector since 2017. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Exeter demonstrating the performance of an innovative mooring component that improves the reliability of floating structures in the ORE sector. Her research interests include lifetime risk analysis, location-dependant offshore renewable energy device design, numerical modelling of operational marine field load conditions and physical component testing. 



Dr Christopher Lee, Landscape Decisions Fellow, University of Exeter

Christopher is an environmental physicist specialising in land use modelling and strategic landscape design.  He received his PhD in atmospheric physics from the University of Manchester in 2011.  His subsequent academic career has spanned natural hazard modelling, land use dynamics, and agri-environment policy design; alongside roles in the private sector as an agricultural valuer and rural surveyor, specialising in environmental land management and ecosystem services valuation. Christopher is a Landscape Decisions Fellow at the Land Environment Economics and Policy Institute at the University of Exeter.  His research interests focus on the combination of geophysical and social models of land use to explore the practical application and implications of landscape-scale land use change strategies, in particular relating to natural hazard and climate change mitigation.  As part of his role Christopher is embedded in Defra’s Environmental Land Management design team, providing land use modelling and expertise for the development of the UK Government’s agri-environment policy for England.



Dr Kristin Liabo, Senior Research Fellow, University of Exeter


Kristin obtained her undergraduate degree in sociology at the University of Tromso, Norway. She completed her MSc at the London School of Economics before working for the children’s charity Barnardo’s, and then as a research fellow at City University’s School of Nursing. After she worked on a study on research implementation she became interested in comparing the research priorities of researchers with those of the wider public, prompting the question ‘who decides what we should know?’ Her subsequent PhD research focused on lay collaboration in research, working with young people in care. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School where she leads the Patient and Public Involvement Team of the NIHR Applied Health Research Collaboration, South West Peninsula (PenARC). She co-leads the Planetary Health module on the Masters of Public Health at Exeter Medical School.



Dr Liz Marks, Lecturer, University of Bath

Liz gained her BA degree in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, and then completed her doctorate in clinical psychology (DClinPsy) at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London. She has worked as a clinician in the NHS for 10 years, specializing in complex, unresolvable physical health problems and the impact these have on people’s lives. She now works as a lecturer in Psychology at the University of Bath. Much of her research has focused on developing and testing novel interventions in tinnitus and non-cardiac chest pain (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). More recently she has been exploring the psychological burdens of another unresolveable and complex problem we all face: climate change. Liz wishes to both improve our understanding of the impacts of climate change and ecological degradation, and to find new ways of supporting individuals and communities in managing these impacts.



Dr Okechukwu Okorie, Research Fellow, University of Exeter

Okey obtained his BEng degree in Mechanical Engineering in Nigeria and went on to complete a MSc in Wales, United Kingdom and a PhD in Sustainable Manufacturing Systems in Cranfield University, United Kingdom. He has worked as a reliability engineer, a supply chain development analyst and begun a start-up focusing on supply chain optimisation. He is now working as a Research Associate and is the lead researcher for the EPSRC Circular 4.0 project investigating digital technologies nodes and interventions within high value manufacturing for a circular economy. His most current research is examining value, cost and factors of influence in driving circular business models adoption in HVMs as well as the quantification of identified metrics. Oke is extremely keen to understand, capture and measure the triple bottle line impacts in the transition to a circular economy, exploring this through simulation modelling.



Dr Shawn L. Platt, Research Associate, University of Bath

Shawn holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental engineering in the area of advanced infrastructure systems focusing on structural materials, and an MSc in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a concentration in structural engineering and mechanics. Shawn has over 25 years of construction experience supporting his academic and research development. Shawn is currently a Research Associate at the University of Bath focusing on bio and waste-based construction materials with respect to the indoor environment as well as disaster resilience of masonry structures with a view of delivering lifelong sustainable structures and communities. Shawn’s various interdisciplinary and international research interests have broadly focused on novel retrofitting and rehabilitation materials and methods with concentrations in non-traditional construction materials, vernacular architecture, and material interactions in complex systems as well as socio-economic impacts and policy development.



Dr Anush Poghosyan Hopes, Research Associate, University of Bath


Graduate with a PhD in Mathematics and MSc in Computer Science, Anush has a practical knowledge and expertise in predictive modelling, data mining and machine learning. She is an enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher with over 5 years of multidisciplinary research experience in the areas of energy efficiency, built environment, construction management, occupational health and safety, complex networks and network theory. Anush’s research interests include but are not limited to modelling and simulation of complex socio-technical systems, decision support systems and diffusion of low carbon technologies in power distribution networks.  She is now working as a research associate in the department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at University of Bath. In her most current research Anush is designing agent-based models of the interaction of building energy systems and occupants at district level to simulate the effect of these interactions on the overall energy demand.



Dr Neetesh Saxena, Lecturer, Cardiff University

Neetesh is a Lecturer at the School of Computer Science & Informatics, Cardiff University. Previously, he was a Lecturer with Bournemouth University (UK) and a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology (USA) and Stony Brook University (USA). He earned his PhD in Computer Science & Engineering from IIT Indore. His research focuses on cyber security, cyber-physical system security – smart grid and electric vehicle, and IoT security. He researches around electric vehicle security contributing it to net-zero carbonisation, securely computed load forecasting in the pandemic situations, and securely managing energy usage at household and businesses. He has done work on understanding the impact of complex attacks on the physical assets and their operations. Along with the technological aspect, Neetesh is keen to explore social, economic, environmental, psychological and human factors aspects to understand the mindset of cybercriminals and take necessary actions and recommendations as input while developing new secure solutions. 



Dr David Shackleton, Lecturer, Cardiff University

David Shackleton is a Lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University. Climate change is at the centre of his research and teaching. His first research project was a study of the environmental politics of modernist novels, which he is currently turning into a monograph called Anthropocene Modernism: Time, History and the Novel. His next research project is a study of Afrofuturism, an Afrodiasporic cultural movement spanning literature, film, photography and music. This project argues that Afrofuturism and much recent speculative fiction can help us to imagine more equitable transitions between energy regimes to a low-carbon future. He has recently designed a new Year 3 undergraduate module called ‘Visions of the Future: Climate Change and Fiction’. He hopes to collaborate with others who are interested in trying to comprehend the challenges posed by climate breakdown, and wish to devise innovative means through which to communicate new knowledge. 



Dr Elspeth Spence, Research Associate, Cardiff University


Elspeth received her MA in Psychology and MRes in Research Methods from Aberdeen University before completing her PhD at Cardiff University, which explored public understanding of ocean acidification. Currently she is working as a postdoctoral researcher as part of the Understanding Risk Group and the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation exploring public acceptability and support for carbon dioxide removal strategies, with a specific focus on enhanced rock weathering. Elspeth is interested in determining how local communities and publics perceive potential large-scale climate engineering strategies and their deployment in a range of locations particularly as there are a range of socioeconomic, ethical and justice issues. She believes it is crucial that public perceptions are incorporated in decision-making and policy development aimed at reducing the impacts of climate change.



Dr Yixian Sun, Lecturer, University of Bath


Yixian Sun is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in International Development at the University of Bath. Originally from China, he received his PhD in International Relations/Political Science from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, BA from Nanjing University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University before coming to Bath. Trained as a political scientist, Yixian conducts interdisciplinary, multi-method research on sustainable development and environmental governance. His work seeks to explain whether and how different governance initiatives can help emerging economies and developing countries achieve sustainability transitions. Yixian’s work appeared in major academic journals including Ecological Economics, Global Environmental Politics, Global Food Security, International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Nature Food, and the Review of International Political Economy. He looks forward to exploring the transitions pathways to net-zero in the post-COVID world.



Dr Eleni Toumpanaki, Lecturer, University of Bristol

Eleni completed a MEng in Civil Engineering with honours at the National Technical University of Athens in 2010. She holds a Master’s degree in Structural Steel Design and Sustainable Development from the Imperial College. She completed her PhD in concrete and composites (CFRPs) at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with the Empa Institute in Zürich. After a short journey in industry working as a Structural Engineer at Foster + Partners, she studied the mechanics of timber from nano- to macroscale in a multidisciplinary environment at the University of Cambridge. Eleni is a Lecturer in Civil Engineering. Her research interests lie in the optimised use of structural materials and how efficiently timber can be used to reduce the carbon footprint of infrastructure having as main drivers sustainability, durability and resilience. She is keen in a multidisciplinary approach to tackle climate change problems with a holistic overview.



Dr Stuart Walker, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Exeter


After obtaining a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Sheffield, Stuart worked in low carbon building engineering for three years before returning to Sheffield for a PhD in Tidal Turbine hydrodynamics. This led to a one-year EPSRC Fellowship undertaken partly at the University of Florence. In addition to the engineering challenges of marine renewable energy, Stuart is interested in the environmental impact and unforeseen consequences of defossilisation, renewable energy, and the move away from plastic. His current work is split between reliability assessment of tidal stream turbines to reduce the cost of energy, and the measurement of the environmental impact of low carbon energy technologies. Recent work he is most proud of includes working with the Medical Research Unit in The Gambia to reduce reliance on single-use plastic, and working with the UN to design PPE for refugee camps during the Covid-19 pandemic. Stuart is a chartered engineer, a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, a STEM Ambassador.



Dr Rebecca Windemer, Postdoctoral Fellow, Cardiff University


Rebecca obtained a BA degree in Geography from the London School of Economics. She then completed a MSc in Development Planning and Research at Reading University while working as a town planner. Rebecca left industry to undertake a PhD at Cardiff University in 2016. Her PhD explored the use of time-limited planning consents for onshore wind and solar farms including how decisions are made regarding repowering, asset life-extension and decommissioning. She is currently an ESRC postdoctoral fellow at Cardiff University, where she is sharing the findings of her PhD with academic and non-academic stakeholders as well as exploring the potential for wind farm abandonment. More broadly her research interests involve the regulation of energy infrastructure, how the planning system can help achieve NetZero targets, and how time is considered in planning.