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New project explores campus-based research into air quality and climate change through ‘Living Lab'

A multidisciplinary Queen Mary team has received support from the Westfield Fund to demonstrate innovative opportunities to enhance the student learning on sustainability through campus-embedded research.

A green computer chip on a white table

The interlinked challenges of climate change and urban air quality are immediately relevant to students and staff at the Mile End campus, as well as to residents in the local area. But it can be difficult for specialists and non-specialists alike to relate slow or erratic changes in the physical environment to more immediate concerns around respiratory health and local impacts of global warming. 
The project aims for students and staff to collaborate on establishing a sensor-based environmental monitoring programme for the Mile End campus, providing physical resources and data to support sustainability education across a wide range of disciplines.  This will contribute to a wider initiative on greening the Mile End campus and developing it as a Living Lab for environmental sustainability. 

For a university, a Living Lab brings opportunities for students, academic staff, professional staff and external bodies to collaborate on projects looking at real-life sustainability problems through using the campuses as a tester site 

Interdisciplinary teams of students will collaborate with staff to embed a low-cost environmental sensor network within the campus to monitor temperature, humidity, heat stress and particulate pollution as indicators of air quality. This will open up new opportunities for teaching transferable skills through hands-on activities. 
Lisa Belyea, Professor of Biogeosciences at Queen Mary University of London, who leads the project said: How can we inspire our students to become the next generation of climate leaders? This project taps into high-profile issues around urban air quality and the local impacts of global warming and seeks to equip students with the hands-on experience and interdisciplinary and practical skills they need to tackle these interlinked challenges. The project relates to my research on climate change mitigation and carbon cycling in ecosystems, but it takes this research in a different urban direction. I’m really looking forward to learning lots of new things from students and staff across the university, and to helping kick-start a ‘living lab’ for sustainability education at Queen Mary. 

As well as Professor Belyea the project team includes academic representatives from the School of Geography- Professor Kate Heppell, Dr Stefan Poslad & Dr Eliane Bodanese from the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science as well as Dr Philip Tamuno, Queen Mary’s Head of Sustainability, and Tom Stockton, Sustainability Coordinator at the Students’ Union. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Westfield Fund project or living lab approaches, please   



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