The inspiration for my research has come from a rather unexpected source: I grew up in Milton Keynes, and watched as the infrastructure was laid to support a population of a quarter of a million. Entire lakes were dug into the ground, millions of trees were planted, and tonnes of concrete and tarmac were laid down to create some kind of beautiful natural machine. The lakes, shaped in teardrops and connected throughout the city, were not just aesthetic; they were magnificent feats of engineering designed to hold vast quantities of excess water within the city. When initially applied in Milton Keynes, keeping water in a city to prevent flooding was a very novel idea and opposite to the national trend, but has now proven effective and is widely applied in the form of SuDS. As a child I was fascinated by all of this and spent my days exploring the parks and the libraries to learn more.
Nothing much has changed, and I still enjoy exploring nature and reading about these fascinating concepts. Yet now, I also add people to the mix. I have developed a great sense of empathy in regards to how the choices of others, and hierarchies across society, impact the decisions a person can make. Current risk assessments do not take into account the whole system over time, and undoubtedly the decisions of the past have left certain sectors of society more or less able to make decisions and improve their position in life.
Today, we live in a society in which responsibility is more widely distributed. Yet, some stakeholders have more awareness of this responsibility, and more power to manipulate the natural and social systems which they are part of. To ensure the dispersal of responsibility is not manipulated for the benefit of few, it is vital to develop methods which make the impact of flood risk management decisions more transparent. Transparency will enable authorities to better inform fair decisions, allow people to make the best decisions possible within the context they exist, and, where necessary, enforce accountability and social justice.
The research I am developing focuses on risk assessment, resilience and communication of risk. Creating both practical tools for those wishing to assess their risk and the impact their decisions have on others, and developing ideas to improve resilience of society as a whole in an environment of uncertainty.
- DPhil in Geography and the Environment, Oxford University (in progress)
- MPhil in Geography and Environment, Oxford University, 2012
- BSc Geography (1st class honours), Durham University, 2010