Katie McCausland

Project title:katie McCausland

Visualisation of GIS and BIM Sustainable infrastructure asset management

Partner Organisation:

Costain Ltd

First Supervisor:

Dr Geoff Griffiths

Second Supervisor:

Professor Jennifer Whyte

Project description:

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are used for the creation, analysis and management of spatial data, allowing the user to collate and view multiple sources of information on one map or screen. GIS is underused within the construction industry. However, Costain Ltd. has been steadily growing its GIS platform and capabilities for asset management. Costain's needs in terms of environmental impacts have been assessed through meetings and project research to narrow down the focus of the project "Analysis and visualisation in GIS for improved sustainability of large-scale infrastructure projects". The project will aim to identify the potential risks and impacts to biodiversity, ecosystem services and carbon emissions through the development of a sustainability toolkit.

The next steps for this project are testing of the data in order to provide Costain with an accurate view of their potential environmental impacts; this will involve the updating and validation of the existing Phase I Habitat Classification. This layer will be updated using high resolution satellite imagery, thus providing a more in date and accurate land cover assessment. In addition, a method for remotely assessing particular biodiversity offsetting parameters will be validated in conjunction with the remote ecosystem services assessment to reduce error. Once a toolkit has been created for the A465, it will then be tested on other sites to evaluate its accuracy.

The use of this toolkit will also be assessed for its useful ness throughout the company. This will involve interviews with staff from bid writers to on site engineers, allowing for needed changes and possible additions to the toolkit based on company needs.

Project poster:

Download Katie McCausland's project poster (964KB)

Student profile:

 I have always had a passion for the environment, as I have grown older and become more acquainted with ecology and conservation my interests have narrowed. The work I undertook during my undergraduate degree allowed me to apply myself to conserving natural resources. This drove my pursuit of the MSc with a thesis focused on the protection of biodiversity using spatial analysis. My MSc also introduced me to the concept of ecosystem services and their importance balancing the relationship between humans and nature. Although I still have interest in all aspects of conservation, my concentration has turned towards balancing conservation and development. As the human population rises within the UK, the amount of natural areas is decreasing; having a direct effect on ecosystem services. It is important for development industries to visusalise these effects, so this project allows me to use my ecological knowledge and technical ability to contribute to future urbanisation decisions made in natural areas from commercial building to wind farm production.

Conference Attendance and Participation:

McCausland, K.A., Griffiths, G 2015 (Abstract) SER World Conference: Towards resilient ecosystems: restoring the urban, the rural and the wild proceedings, "Analysis and visualisation in GIS for improved sustainability of large scale infrastructure projects - an industrial application" Society for Ecological Restoration, Manchester UK

McCausland, K.A., Griffiths, G.H., Whyte, J. 2016 (Extended Abstract) SIEP-IALE: Challenges of Anthropocene and the Role of Landscape Ecology Proceedings, "Landscape ecology and GIS to inform large infrastructure" International Association for Landscape Ecology. Asti Italy

McCausland, K.A., Griffiths G. H., 2016 (Abstract) 5th International EcoSummit Congress: "Biodiversity Mapping: Optimising conservation in large infrastructure projects" Elsiever, Montpellier France.

McCausland, K. A., Griffiths G. H. 2016 (Abstract) IALE UK: Landscape Characterisation, Methods and Application. "A Landscape Ecology Based Approach to Assessing Habitat Condition" International Society for Landscape Ecology. Reading UK

McCausland, K. A., Griffiths G. H., Whyte J. 2016 (Abstract) Construction Opportunities for Mobile IT: Digitally Building Britain "Ecological Analysis and visualisation using GIS to inform planning for large infrastructure" London UK

Journal Papers in final review:

"Visualising Biodiversity: piloting a GIS based environmental planning tool in the UK"

"The use of landscape metrics in management of Annex II species on large infrastructure in the UK"

Other and Outreach

Trainee of the Year Nominee - Costain 2015

Sessional Lecturer and Demonstrator in GIS and Habitat Mapping - Jan 2016 - Present

CETI Award winner: "Real-time Project & Facility Management, Coordination & Control category - April 2016" - April 2016

BIM4Clients: Co-created the "planting" section of the Asset Management Dictionary Document

Academic Mentor for Disabilities Office - September 2016 - March 2017

Eco-build Invited Speaker - March 2017

Nuclear Institute Young Speakers Competition Finalist - 2017

Nuclear Institute Ambassador for University of Reading - 2017

Landscape Institute Licentiate Member, Pathway to Chartership - Jan 2017

STEM for Britain Finalist - March 2017 (invited to participate in 2018)

NCE100 Technology Trailblazer Shortlisted - June 2017

IET Feature Article "Can Visualising Ecological Integrity Aid Large Infrastructure Planning?"- Summer 2017

Nominated for The Telegraphs "Top 50 Women Engineers under 35"

Associated/Relevant Research Groups/Centres:


Expected completion date:

 March 2018

Why did you chose Reading:

 I chose Reading because it is highly regarded within industry with long established links with companies such as Costain Ltd. This opportunity at Reading is providing me with vital industry experience while giving me the prospect of working with a globally innovative and influential company that could potentially change the planning process for large infrastructure.


 MSc - Landscape Ecology (Cranfield University, UK)

BSc - Wildlife Science (Purdue University, Indiana, USA)

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