Meet the 2017-18 Vice-Chancellor's Fellows
- Anya Skatova - Data Analytics and the Science of Wellbeing
Anya's project will focus on data analytics and the science of wellbeing. National wellbeing is a key priority area for government and policy-makers, with measures of subjective wellbeing adopted in the UK to index prosperity of the society.
These complement GDP as indicators of societal progress and act as success measures of policy interventions. Wellbeing is commonly measured with self-report questions, e.g., targeting life satisfaction and happiness.
Whilst high profile policy-makers push measures of subjective wellbeing as indicators of the progress of society, their self-report nature provides limited opportunities for exploring factors that affect changes in wellbeing. Anya’s project will address two main research questions:
(1) Can wellbeing be reliably indexed through machine records of behaviour?
(2) Can very large datasets provide additional information about the population’s wellbeing over traditional self-reports?
Anya’s project has the potential to change the way companies use large sets of human behaviour data; and the way this data is used by other stakeholders, including academia and government.
- Colin Nolden - Catalysing transformative processes for the development of a sustainable city business model - the case of mobility in Bristol
Colin’s research interests span energy policy, climate policy and sustainability transitions.Cities are at the heart of the global climate change challenge.
With mobility in Bristol as a case study, this research analyses transformative processes to shed light on the changing nature of city business models given the need for smart mobility to be socially acceptable, environmentally responsive and economically accountable, as well as holistically integrated into increasingly decarbonised energy systems and, ultimately, carbon markets.
Colin’s project seeks to enhance the necessary structures for holistic and participatory intermediation practices to enable city, local and regional authorities to shift their focus towards innovation with instead of simply for the people.
New approaches to intermediation including participatory tools and methods for changing mobility practices will be analysed through the frame: smart mobility + smart grids + smart governance = smart low carbon cities.
- Emma Williams - Cyber-security: How do we ensure users engage in secure behaviour
Based in the School of Experimental Psychology, Emma will be investigating the psychological mechanisms of secure cyber behaviour, in particular how people make decisions about whether to engage in secure behaviours considered to be time-consuming or challenging, such as secure authentication and validation processes or using multiple complex passwords.
Her research will involve close collaboration with the Cryptography and Information Security group within the Department of Computer Science. Emma’s project has implications for the development of secure behaviour within both organisations (e.g., the behaviour of employees) and the general public (e.g., engaging in online activities at home) and represents a key research area if cyber-threats against society are to be minimised.
- James Palmer - The Political Ecology of Advanced Bioenergy: Knowledges, Economies, Materialities
James’s project will deploy critical discourse analysis, interviews and public workshops to interrogate the techno-scientific and political-economic processes through which advanced bioenergy is being imagined and constructed, in Europe and in the Global South, particularly in the context of wider enthusiasm for a transition to a bio-based economy.
The research will also explore how such developments, in reconfiguring the materiality of plants themselves, are also serving to complicate the roles played by non-human, vegetal life-forms within pre-existing capitalist processes of value generation and wealth accumulation.
The project aims to advance a critical framework both for deliberating the terms under which advanced bioenergy should be developed and governed, and for rethinking the categories of labour, growth, ‘nature’, and indeed life itself within contemporary theories of capitalism.
- Jessica Hope - Development in response to Climate Change: An analysis of contentious politics and representation across North and South
Jessica will analyse how development is conceptualised and promoted in response to climate change, as the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 2015 Paris Agreement come into being.
Global development NGOs will be used as an entry point to firstly examine how social movement agendas are treated and included and secondly, to assess how such climate change/development politics are represented to the Global North in ways that influence understandings of sustainability and change.
- Joshua Habgood-Coote - Group inquiry and collaborative knowledge
Joshua’s project investigates how groups of people can work together to produce knowledge. Contemporary science increasingly relies on large-scale collaborative inquiries.
Work at the large hadron collider at CERN, the International Panel on Climate Change, and various citizen science projects (such as Galaxy Zoo) is driven by collaboration between large groups of researchers from many different disciplines.
Democratic society also relies on a well-informed public engaging conscientiously with the political questions which face a society, and at least some of the failures in contemporary democracy reflect ways in which democracy is failing as a collaborative inquiry.
As a philosopher, Joshua is interested in understanding the nature of the process by which groups of individuals collaborate to answer a scientific or political question, and in thinking about how a group can best employ the skills and knowledge of its members to answer the questions it faces.
- Louise Millard - Innovations in continuously measured data modelling in epidemiology
Louise is an interdisciplinary Data Scientist who has published both Computer Science and Epidemiology research contributions. Her project will research innovations in continuously measured data modelling in epidemiology.
Cohorts in epidemiology collect data about participants over a period of time, and are collecting ever increasing amounts of data. This includes ‘continuously measured’ data, where a device measures a trait such as physical activity, at regular intervals (e.g. every second) over the course of several days.
Currently, epidemiologists tend to use simple summary statistics in their analyses, derived from these ‘continuously measured’ data, such as the average levels. Louise’s project will develop methods to enable these data to be analysed more comprehensively.
This will enable epidemiologists to tackle new research questions, for instance, whether a 60-minute session of high intensity activity has the same health impact as six 10-minute sessions spread across a day.
- Malu Villela Garcia - Mission-led business: A new paradigm for bringing social and environmental goals to the core of firms’ strategies and operations
Malu’s main areas of interest are centred around the emergence of Mission Led Businesses (MLB), and their impact on corporate governance, organisation structure, and employment practices.
A key focus is the way in which social networks in localities and across transnational space influence the diffusion of MLBs.
Malu’s research project aims to exploring this through fieldwork in two contrasting locations, the cities of Bristol and Sao Paulo in Brazil. In this process, she will also be reaching out to the community of MLBs in these cities to build a network towards connecting research with practice.
- Marlon Seror - Economic growth and environmental degradation: Evidence from urban centres in China
Marlon’s research interests encompass development economics, labour - with a particular focus on migration—history and environmental economics. Policies that promote economic growth in the short run may have nefarious effects in the long-run on environmental quality and economic development.
This trade-off is particularly challenging in industrialising countries, where it crystallises in unfettered urban growth. Marlon’s research project proposes to investigate this trade-off empirically and study the impact of mass migration and a large-scale industrialisation plan on the spatial organisation of economic activity and environmental quality in Chinese urban centres.
- Nikolai Bode - Computational analyses of social behaviour for digital health solutions
Nikolai's research will focus on computational analyses of social behaviour for digital health solutions. Social interactions are fundamental to human nature. Therefore, ageing, mental well-being or physical disease likely impact on how people behave in social encounters, possibly long before the symptoms of conditions become apparent.
Digital health augments diagnosis and treatment in healthcare based on analysing automatically recorded physiological, behavioural or biological data. Currently, digital health emphasises data from individuals.
In contrast, Nikolai’s project builds on his work and long-standing fascination with social behaviour to demonstrate how sensor arrays for automated data acquisition in combination with novel computational analysis of behavioural signatures can be used to enhance healthcare.
Specifically, he will consider three complementary application areas, by investigating social behaviour in peoples’ homes, interactions in patient-doctor consultations and teamwork of healthcare professionals. Nikolai’s project will lead to a better understanding of the role of social interactions in healthcare and it will lay the foundations for directly applicable digital healthcare support systems.
- Sara Correia Carreira - Engineering a living and moving robotic skin for in vitro skin permeation studies
Sara’s project will step out of the conventional way in which in vitro models are designed. Currently, in vitro models are mostly flat and static, whereas biological systems are dynamic and three-dimensional.
She will develop an in vitro model of human skin that captures both its three-dimensionality as well as the dynamic strains it experiences. She aims to achieve this by interfacing lab-grown skin with soft robotic actuators, which can function as artificial muscles that stretch the skin.
Sara will investigate if the transport of drugs across the skin is different when it is experiencing these mechanical strains and if those strains can help to improve the structure of lab-grown skin, such that it better resembles “real” skin that could be used for transplantation.
- Sarah Daw - Unknowing Nature: The Development of Ecological Thinking in British and American Science and Literature from 1945
Sarah’s interdisciplinary project aims to provide a comparative study of the language of ecology in transatlantic popular science writing, journalism and poetry from 1945.
By tracing the transatlantic influence of American Cold War science on the writing of “Nature” across disciplines, this work will demonstrate that as a direct result of the popularisation of the century’s key scientific advances, “Nature” becomes, paradoxically, better scientifically understood and more conceptually opaque.
Sarah’s project will culminate in a monograph that provides a comprehensive exploration of changing representations of “Nature” in transatlantic literature and science writing from 1945. The book will also offer substantial reflections on the powerful, yet overlooked, legacy of the mid-twentieth-century period within the contemporary Environmental Humanities.