UROP Project: Quantifying Reading's Urban Metabolism

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) offers undergraduate students the chance to gain hands-on research experience, and enables academics to test new ideas with selected undergraduate students. The School of the Built Environment received a grant to fund two UROP placements in 2017 co-supervised by two Principal Investigators from Architecture and Construction Management and Engineering; the project ran in June - July 2017.

The two students worked in collaboration with Reading Borough Council to quantify resource consumption in the local area. This project fell under the research area of "urban metabolism" which is a resource flow accounting application to quantify the needs of urban areas and explore how they can transition to more sustainable levels of resource consumption.

The students carried out an examination of energy, water, food inputs, and waste outputs (including solid waste and carbon emissions), as well as contacting various local utilities and government agencies to compile a complete list of the stated resource needs. Further to this they completed some resource demand mapping to explore areas of the city where fuel poverty might arise.

Hear what the students and their supervisors had to say about the project:

David Smith, BSc Geography (Human and Physical) student, said: "During my UROP project my primary responsibility was to focus on energy and food inputs in Reading. It was an invaluable experience, and I would highly recommend it to all students as it gave me a great confidence boost and has allowed me to develop skills which will be useful in my last year of university and in the workplace."

Jayke Morris, BSc Geography (Human and Physical) student, said: "My UROP project was an exciting and rewarding experience. I got the opportunity to explore further into a subject I am extremely interested in, and at the same time I was able to learn, develop and utilise multiple personal, professional and technical skills. UROP has positively impacted me as a researcher, and has given me the confidence to conduct quality research for my dissertation. For these reasons and more I would 100% recommend a UROP placement."

Dr Daniela Perrotti, UROP supervisor from Architecture said: "This project has unlocked potential for new forms of collaboration between our University's departments and key public actors in Reading. Urban Metabolism is an emergent field of study and more cross-disciplinary and inter-sectoral collaboration is paramount to foster the discourse between young researchers, scientists and local communities, and to co-design less resource-intensive cities."

Dr Eugene Mohareb, UROP supervisor from Construction Management and Engineering said: "This UROP project, with collaborators from Architecture, Geography, and Construction Management and Engineering, demonstrates the interdisciplinary strengths of these departments and benefits from their diverse research interests and skills."

Eugene and Daniela were both nominated by David and Jayke for the UROP Supervisor of the Year award, which recognises special dedication in the research supervision of the UROP project.

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