King’s and the London Air Quality Network tackling air pollution

You often might not be able to see or smell air pollution, but it would be difficult for you not to have seen it in the news recently. Air pollution has been linked to illness and premature death. A recent report examining the impact of exposure to air pollution across the course of a lifetime estimated that in the UK, the air pollution we breathe causes an estimated 40,000 early deaths per year. The impacts of polluted air are worse for the most vulnerable people. Air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM), have been found to damage lung development in children and worsen existing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, particularly in older people. Furthermore, air pollution disproportionately affects the poorest in society who tend to live in areas near main roads with higher levels of air pollution. Continue reading

MoDS: Mapping Knowledge with Data Science (MSc + PhD Studentship)

Although we had some great responses to our initial call, we’re still looking for the ‘right’ candidate for this fully-funded studentship that is open to both undergraduate finalists as well as completing Masters students. The project involves the application of data science techniques (text-mining, topic modelling, graph analysis) to a large, rich data set of 450,000+ PhD theses in order to understand the evolving geography of academic knowledge production: how are groundbreaking ideas produced and circulated, and how does researcher mobility and institutional capacity shape this process? We’re looking for a great candidate (see ‘pathways’ below) with a demonstrable interest in interdisciplinary research – you will be working in collaboration with the British Library at the intersection between geography, computer science, and the humanities, and this will present unique challenges (and opportunities!) that call for resourcefulness, curiosity, and intellectual excellence. Continue reading

Urban Risk or Resilience? Opportunities for Improving Informal Settlements in Urban Africa

Event Panelists, Photo Credit: Wilson Center

Urban Risk or Resilience? Opportunities for Improving Informal Settlements in Urban Africa

“Most risk in African cities is not catastrophic. It’s not even episodic, but it is every day,” said Mark Pelling, a professor at King’s College, London, at a recent event on urban risk and resilience in sub-Saharan Africa. With rates of rural-to-urban migration reaching record highs, more than half of the urban residents in sub-Saharan Africa live in informal settlements, where they lack basic infrastructure and access to critical resources. Integrated projects like Pelling’s Urban ARK seek to build more resilient communities in cities and informal settlements.

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Urban ARK at IPCC Cities and Climate Change Conference, Edmonton

Urban ARK at IPCC Cities and Climate Change Conference, Edmonton

Several Urban ARK partners contributed to this event, including Mark Pelling (KCL and Urban ARK PI) David Dodman (IIED) (who sat on the organising committee) Hayley Leck (KCL) Lorena Pasquini and Jessica Lee (UCT), Shuaib Lwasa (Makerere University) and Mark Ojal (Nairobi Risk Partnership). The team helped to emphasise the importance and specific needs and opportunities offered by cities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mark Pelling presented a short statement as part of a plenary on science-policy interactions, the transcript for this is presented below:

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The Sustainable Development Goals

by Joseph Hirst

As a Geography BSc undergraduate, the natural environment holds a very important place in my heart. I wouldn’t study it otherwise! This love for the environment isn’t recent either- I was part of my secondary school’s environment team throughout my time there (including 6th form). It was no real surprise to see that I’d join the Geography Department Sustainability Champions team at King’s when I heard about its existence. Given my history, I was surprised to hear that much of the work of the sustainability champions scheme focused on the sustainable development goals, something I knew little about! These goals aren’t explicitly taught in the Geography BSc but, as I grew to learn, these goals are incredibly important for everyone – from the international community to a single undergraduate student. Continue reading

MoDS: Mapping Knowledge with Data Science

I’m really excited to announce the latest addition to our growing stable of computational geography research: a fully-funded ESRC studentship involving the application of cutting-edge techniques (text-mining, topic modelling, graph analysis) to a large, rich data set of 450,000 PhD theses in order to understanding the evolving geography of academic knowledge production: how are groundbreaking ideas produced, circulated, and ultimately succeeded, and how do issues such as researcher mobility and institutional capacity shape this process?

We’re looking for a stellar candidate (either undergraduate or Masters-level) with a demonstrable interest in interdisciplinary research – you will be working at the intersection between disciplines and this will present unique challenges (and opportunities!) that call for resourcefulness, curiosity, and intellectual excellence.

Project Overview

The British Library manages EThOS, the national database of UK doctoral theses, which enables users to discover and access theses for use in their own research. But the almost complete aggregation of metadata about more than 450,000 dissertations also enables us to begin asking very interesting questions about the nature and production of knowledge in an institutional and geographic context across nearly the entire U.K., and this anchors the project in quintessentially social science questions about the impact of individuals, work, and mobility on organisations and cultures.

However, textual data of this scale is solely interpretable and navigable through ‘distant reading’ approaches; so although it remains rooted in the interests and episteme of the social sciences, the research involves genuinely interdisciplinary work at the interfaces with both the natural sciences and the (digital) humanities! At its heart, this project is therefore an exciting example of ‘computational social science’ (Lazer et al. 2009) in that it involves the application of cutting-edge computational techniques to large, rich data sets of human behaviour.

Ultimately, this project seeks to understand changes in the U.K. geography of academic knowledge production over time and across two or more disciplines. All applicants are therefore expected to demonstrate an interest in the underlying social science research questions and (at a minimum) basic competence in programming. Additionally, the successful applicant for the 1+3 route would be expected to successfully complete King’s MSc Data Science programme, while the successful +3 applicant would be expected to demonstrate a degree of existing facility with core analytical approaches.

For more information on the project, please see here.

Studentship type

1+3 (1 year Masters + 3 year PhD) or +3 (PhD only), subject to candidate’s existing academic/professional background. For applicants with a social science background we are suggesting King’s MSc Data Science programme. For applicants with a natural science background we will need to discuss how best to achieve a grounding in the social sciences.

Application deadline

31 January 2018