We’re thrilled to be running another ECR Net Zero Conference in 2024, this time in collaboration with even more fantastic organisations working in the Net Zero space – C-DICE, CO2RE, EDI+, EDRC, ERA, IDRIC, IGNITE+, HI-ACT, Supergen Bioenergy Hub, SUSTAIN, TFI Network+, UKERC and UK-HyRES!
The conference will take place at the Birmingham Conference and Events Centre (Birmingham, B5 4EW), on Tuesday 27th – Wednesday 28th February 2024. It will provide an opportunity for ECRs to meet and network with peers from different research organisations within the wider net zero research community, and build a more collaborative, multidisciplinary community.
The two days will include a mix of keynote speakers, parallel sessions (skills and topic based) and a networking dinner. New to this year’s conference is the opportunity to present your work in our poster reception to stimulate discussion and find potential collaborative research pathways with fellow ECRs.
There is also an option to attend virtually. The event will not be fully hybrid, however, and only sessions taking place in the main room will be streamed.
Recordings and slides (where we have permission to share them) will be available below after the event.
Day 1 – Tuesday 27th February 2024
|Registration and coffee
Myles Allen (University of Oxford)
|Plenary session 1: EDI
During this interactive plenary session, we will explore why the ability to embed equitable, diverse, and inclusive practices into their research is a crucial skill for early career researchers to acquire in order to enable the just transition to a net zero society. We will provide guidance and insights into how to start embedding principles of EDI into your research.
By the end of the session, ECRs will be able to:
Speakers/facilitators: Jessica Gagnon (University of Manchester), Marco Reggiani (University of Strathclyde), Claire Scott (IGNITE+ and University of Strathclyde) and Molly Westby (EDI+)
|Public engagement to address net zero: Research into practice
Speakers/facilitators: Daisy Dunne (Carbon Brief), Karen Henwood (Cardiff University), Chris Jones (University of Portsmouth), Rhiannon Lamb (HI-ACT), Mikal Mast (CO2RE), Kate O’Sullivan (Cardiff University), Phedeas Stephanides (UKERC and University of East Anglia) and Gareth Thomas (Cardiff University)
|UK Multidisciplinary research in net zero
Speakers/facilitators: Carys Blunt (UKCCSRC), Nadine Moustafa (Imperial College London), Jen Roberts (UKCCSRC and University of Strathclyde) and Maud van Soest (UKCEH)
|How to write a narrative CV (Facilitated session by Centre for Facilitation)
Research funders are challenging the recruitment approaches of research leaders and for research funding, with a view to increasing diversity. Research careers are complex and rarely linear. To embrace the complexity of experiences and contributions made by researchers, and to help facilitate a better understanding of researchers’ careers at the point of selection, funders have introduced a new way of writing academic CVs: the narrative CV. Instead of simply listing your publications, awards and research highlights, a narrative CV gives you the opportunity to fully showcase your experience, achievements and publications in a more descriptive format.
What will you do during this interactive workshop?
Facilitator: Sandrine Soubes
|Networking and poster reception (view poster list here)
Day 2 – Wednesday 28th February 2024
|Arrivals and coffee
|Cost of net zero transition
Speakers/facilitators: Eilidh Forster (Bangor University), Michael Gargaro (University of Surrey), Collette Larkin (University of Edinburgh) and Daniel Taylor (Aston University)
|Build environment net zero/energy efficiency
Speakers/facilitators: Hui (Mia) Ben (University of Birmingham), Carol Maddock (Swansea University), Jose Ramirez-Mendiola (EDRC), Chris Twinn (Twinn Sustainability Innovation), Becky Waldram (SustainSteel) and Guangling Zhao (Swansea University)
|Business speed networking workshop
Speakers/facilitators: Amy Beierholm (University of Birmingham), Lennie Foster (ERA and C-DICE) and Iniobong James “IJ” Ikpeh (C-DICE)
|Plenary session 2: Global net zero ambitions
Panelists/facilitators: Charlotte McLean (IDRIC), Nadine Moustafa (Imperial College), Yacob Mulugetta (UCL), Imogen Rattle (University of Leeds) and Richard Simon (IEA)
Aaron Goater, Baringa
|Networking lunch and departures
Myles Allen, University of Oxford
Myles Allen is Professor of Geosystem Science in the Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment and Department of Physics, University of Oxford. His research focuses on how human and natural influences on climate contribute to climate change and risks of extreme weather. At a workshop in 2005, Myles introduced the notion of a finite carbon budget, implying net zero emissions of carbon dioxide are necessary to halt global warming. He has been working on the implications ever since, most recently on the case for Geological Net Zero, or a balance between ongoing production of carbon dioxide from geological sources with carbon dioxide capture and geological storage.
He has served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), most recently as a Coordinating Lead Author on the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C. He was awarded the Appleton Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics “for his important contributions to the detection and attribution of human influence on climate and quantifying uncertainty in climate predictions”, featured on the BBC’s “Life Scientific” as “the physicist behind net zero”, was awarded a CBE “for services to climate change attribution, prediction and net zero” and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Amy Beierholm, C-DICE and University of Birmingham
Amy Beierholm is the C-DICE Development Officer, based at the University of Birmingham. Amy comes to C-DICE via PLEXUS (Priming Laboratory EXperiments on infrastructure and Urban Systems, a UKCRIC project linking the UKCRIC facilities) and Liveable Cities (Transforming the Engineering of Cities to Deliver Societal and Planetary Wellbeing), as Project Manager. She has also supported iBUILD (Infrastructure Business models, valuation and Innovation for Local Delivery), Assessing the Underworld and Pipebots (Pervasive Sensing for Buried Pipes). At university, she studied mechanical engineering and aeronautics.
Hui (Mia) Ben, University of Birmingham
Dr Hui (Mia) Ben is a Research Fellow at University of Birmingham. Prior to this, she was a Research Associate at Newcastle University and University of Cambridge. She holds a doctorate in Architecture from the University of Cambridge, looking at domestic energy retrofit. With a background in sustainable architecture, she focuses on the interactions between occupants and building energy retrofit. Her research aims to enhance understanding of energy retrofit adoption, supporting policy-makers in promoting energy efficiency. She has a diverse academic background, including an MPhil-Res from the University of Cambridge, an MA from the University of Liverpool, and a BArch from Wuhan University of Technology. Mia has also been involved in architectural practices, volunteered at GreenBRIDGE and Scroope Journal, and collaborated with the Living Laboratory for Sustainability during her time at Cambridge. Her work is well-published in international journals, and she has presented at various local and international conferences.
Carys Blunt, UKCCSRC
Carys Blunt has been the Finance and Centre Manager at the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC), based at the University of Sheffield, since 2016. Her role encompasses leading the Early Career Researcher (ECR) programme, running the flexible funding calls, managing the extensive events programme as well as the financial management of the Centre. Prior to working at the UKCCSRC, Carys has held a few different roles within the University including within the Department of Finance. She has also worked extensively in the outdoor industry, and preserving the outdoors has been a key driver to wanting to support the transition to net zero.
Daisy Dunne, Carbon Brief
Daisy Dunne holds a BSc in biology from the University of Bristol and a science journalism MA from City, University of London. She was The Independent’s climate correspondent from November 2020 to 2021. Prior to this, she was Carbon Brief’s science writer from 2017 to 2020. Daisy Dunne returned to Carbon Brief in January 2022 as their “special correspondent”.
Tolulope Falope, Cranfield University
Tolulope Falope is currently carrying out doctoral research at Cranfield University with a focus on solar energy integration and energy management systems. On campus, he serves on the organizing committee for the Early Career Researchers Network, leading the communications department.
Eilidh Forster, Bangor University
Eilidh Forster is in her final year of a PhD in Forestry at Bangor University, where she researches the carbon impact of forestry value chains by combining forest growth modelling and life cycle assessment. This includes analysis of different types of forest, forest management and wood uses. Multiple papers from her research have been published in Nature Communications. She now also applies this knowledge in the Science and Evidence team at Drax, as Head of Forest Carbon, to help ensure the business has the knowledge and evidence it needs to operate sustainability.
Lennie Foster, ERA and C-DICE
Lennie Foster is the Skills Manager for the ERA (Energy Research Accelerator) Skills Academy, and C-DICE (Centre for Postdoctoral Development in Infrastructure Cities and Energy), helping provide world-class doctoral and postdoctoral development programmes respectively. These programmes aim to grow a pipeline of world-class talent to meet green growth and Net-Zero challenges. She joined the first cohort of EDI+ Fellows in October 2023, which brings together EDI champions from diverse energy research institutions to design, implement, and review an intervention to improve equality, diversity, and inclusion with the aim of making real change in EDI in the energy research sector. This externally funded fellowship buys out 1 day a week of her time to concentrate on EDI related issues.
Jessica Gagnon, University of Manchester
Dr Jessica Gagnon is a lecturer at the University of Manchester and she has worked in higher education in the US and UK for 20 years. She is a sociologist of higher education whose research is primarily focused on inequalities, particularly in STEM. Her recent projects include the RSC-funded LGBTQual+ project; the EPSRC-funded IGNITE+; the NERC-funded E-DIAL project; the EPSRC-funded STEM Equals project, and the SLiC-funded See Yourself in STEM project. She grew up in a working-class, single-mother family and is the first in her family to attend university.
Michael Gargaro, University of Surrey
Michael Gargaro is a final-year PhD researcher at the University of Surrey in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen. His research investigates the land sparing potential of vertical farming for supporting bioenergy with carbon capture storage deployment. Michael graduated from Durham University in 2019 with a BSc in Environmental Geoscience, going on to Imperial College London where he graduated in 2020 with an MSc in Environmental Technology, specialising in Environmental Economics and Policy. Prior to his PhD, Michael worked as a life-cycle assessment practitioner for LCAworks, developing bespoke workbook LCAs for UKRI and Innovate UK funded projects.
Outside of his PhD studies, Michael is involved in a cross-university UKRI funded project on transforming the UK food system, as well as his role as a committee member for the SHARE network, where he actively maintains memberships, as well as being a direct link with SHARE partner ambassadors.
Aaron Goater, Baringa
Aaron Goater currently leads work on industrial decarbonisation and hard-to-decarbonise sectors at the consultancy Baringa, which he joined in November 2022. He was previously at the UK Climate Change Committee for six years where he led their work on industrial decarbonisation, fuel supply decarbonisation, trade and consumption emissions (and pulled together their analysis on CCS), and during his time at the CCC he provided influential advice to Government on the setting of the UK’s Net Zero target and Sixth Carbon Budget. Aaron also previously worked at the UK Parliament for five years, providing impartial energy advice to MPs and peers, and at the British Geological Survey, modelling geological CO2 storage – a topic in which he holds a PhD.
Mel Green, UKCCSRC
Mel Green is the Communications Officer at the UKCCSRC and Communications Lead for the conference. Since completing a Masters in Public Relations, she has had a number of different communications roles at Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Leeds and now at the University of Sheffield (UKCCSRC). She loves the challenge of good communication. And Lego.
Karen Henwood, HI-ACT and Cardiff University
Professor Karen Henwood is a Co-Investigator for HI-ACT on WP4, Social and Political Intervention. Professor Henwood is based in Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences and its Understanding Risk Research Group. She works on how it is possible for people to meet the challenges posed to themselves and society by the dynamics of environmental risk and socio-cultural change, including infrastructure and technology transitions in decarbonising energy systems.
Iniobong James “IJ” Ikpeh, C-DICE
Dr Iniobong James “IJ” Ikpeh is the Impact Hub Development Officer for C-DICE. IJ has led research on regulatory compliance in water supply as well as managed projects that shaped policy implementation in water supply and housing for local communities. IJ has experience working with researchers having led the Doctoral Representative team and served as Research Event Coordinator to support over 200 Doctoral Researchers at the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, Loughborough University.
Chris Jones, University of Portsmouth
Dr Christopher R. Jones is an Associate Professor of Applied Psychology at the University of Portsmouth. He has a BSc in Psychology (University of Birmingham, 2002), an MSc in Psychological Research (University of Sheffield, 2003) and a PhD in Social Psychology (University of Sheffield, 2007). His research interests focus on public perceptions and acceptance of new energy technologies, and understanding the psychological bases of behavioural inconsistency in relation to environmentally significant behaviours. He is the ‘social’ research theme lead for the UK-HyRES hub and is currently a co-investigator on interdisciplinary research projects in off-grid electric vehicle charging (FEVER) and innovations in residential-sector heating (GasNetNew).
Joshua Lait, University of Exeter
Joshua Lait is a final year EPSRC PhD student based at the University of Exeter. His doctoral research draws on insights from the social sciences and examines sustainable energy and mobility transitions in the UK education sector. He has also held an energy research fellowship funded by UKERC at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. The research fellowship explored the emerging role of longer duration energy storage in the UK’s energy system.
Collette Larkin, University of Edinburgh
Collette Larkin is a final-year PhD researcher at the University of Edinburgh within the Institute of Materials and Processes, having graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2019 with an MEng degree in Chemical Engineering. In partnership with Repsol, Collette’s research focuses on decarbonising transport through designing, developing, and testing hollow fibre-based adsorption systems for on-board CCS applications. Before starting her PhD, Collette worked at Arup as a Graduate Fire Engineer, co-ordinating with a multidisciplinary engineering design team to develop fire strategies for projects across a range of sectors. Outside of her PhD studies, Collette is a committee member of SHARE. She is responsible for identifying the soft skills the SHARE network desires and subsequently, organising training workshops/events.
Neil Lowrie, Transforming Foundation Industries Network+
Neil Lowrie is based in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield and manages the Transforming Foundation Industry Network+, in partnership with the universities of Manchester, Leeds and Swansea. A metallurgist by background, he has been involved in research grant support and management for a number of years, predominantly in the area of materials science and engineering. Prior roles included managing a Centre for Doctoral Training in Interdisciplinary Energy Research (E-Futures) where he managed 70 PhD students’ professional skills training programme.
Carol Maddock, Swansea University
Carol Maddock is an early career researcher based in the Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research (CADR), Swansea University. Her interdisciplinary research draws on expertise in health, public health and community health development. Postdoctoral experience has led to interests and experience in co-production and participatory approaches to public engagement and involvement throughout the research process and more recently where this is related to climate change issues.
Recent research focused on examining older adults’ well-being outcomes and motivations around moving/living in low carbon homes (ABC); exploring the potential of community participation in delivering integrated sustainable energy system solutions in rural villages in India (SUNRISE) and a participatory evaluation of the impacts of the SUNRISE Solar Oasis Building on villagers in India which resulted in a community produced film shown at the British Academy (BA) summer showcase (2023); and separately Understanding Older People’s PerspecTives and Imageries of Climate change (OPTIC).
Nadine Moustafa, Imperial College London
Dr. Nadine Moustafa is a Research Associate at Imperial College London, where her research focuses on carbon capture and storage technologies in a range of different applications, including power and industry and for CO2 removal from the atmosphere. She is the programme and policy officer at the Coalition of Negative emissions. She also works in sustainability in different industries including the fashion and aviation industry and clean energy in the form of nuclear power.
Kate O’Sullivan, Cardiff University
Dr Kate O’Sullivan is a Research Associate based in the School of Social Sciences and Understanding Risk Research Group at Cardiff University. Currently she is working as part of the social science team led by Prof. Karen Henwood and Prof. Nick Pidgeon on the Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) Demonstrator project, part of the UKRI funded Greenhouse Gas Removal Demonstrator (GGR-D) Programme. Her background is in human geography and her research interests centre around the relational and multi-scale interplay between humans and environment, and the implications for how places are understood and experienced. Research has included the exploration of decarbonisation for peripheral communities in Wales with a focus on energy and spatial justice. This work highlighted connections between spatial structures and the distribution of costs and benefits of decarbonisation.
Jose Ramirez-Mendiola, EDRC
Jose Ramirez-Mendiola is a Research Fellow at the Energy Demand Research Centre. He is also a member of the Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Group, based at the School of the Built Environment at the University of Reading. His work focuses on the development of Energy Demand Modelling and Data Analysis tools to support Demand Flexibility research, and the transition to Net-Zero energy systems.
Imogen Rattle, University of Leeds
Imogen Rattle is a research fellow working on low carbon industrial strategy at the University of Leeds. Her work for IDRIC focuses on the factors driving the decarbonisation of industrial clusters globally. Her previous experience includes roles at the department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Environment Agency.
Marco Reggiani, University of Strathclyde
Dr Marco Reggiani is a Research Associate at the University of Strathclyde. Marco’s research is situated within the fields of urban end environmental studies, social justice, and education. This has included exploring issues of peripherality and sustainability, the experiences of LGBTQ+ people and women in STEM, and designing initiatives to remove barriers to inclusion for historically marginalised and excluded individuals. He leads the RSC-funded LGBTQual+ project and collaborates at the EPSRC-funded STEM Equals and IGNITE Network+ projects. He is the award-winning author of two illustrated books about Japanese cultures and everyday lives.
Jen Roberts, University of Strathclyde and UKCCSRC
Dr Jen Roberts is the UKCCSRC Deputy Director and Early Career Lead. She is a Senior Lecturer in the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and Deputy Editor-in-Chief for the open access journal ES3 (Earth Science, Systems, and Society). In addition, Jen sits on the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) Directorate and UKRI’s Science Advisory Group for the CO2 Storage Research Facility.
Claire Scott, IGNITE+ and University of Strathclyde
Claire Scott is the Project Manager of the IGNITE Network+ and is based at University of Strathclyde. She has been working in higher education for over 30 years, most recently as project manager of several Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks for International PhD students, where EDI is an important component and her initial interest started. The IGNITE Network+ is a four year £1.25M EPSRC funded project to tackle the lack of diversity in energy research by harnessing the talents of researchers from all backgrounds. The aim is to help the energy research community develop an inclusive and welcoming culture that ensures equal opportunities for all and in which everyone can thrive.
Richard Simon, IEA
Richard Simon is an energy modeller working on industrial decarbonisation at the IEA, focusing on technology development and the metals sector. Prior, he worked on industrial decarbonisation, negative emissions and carbon capture for a UK-based low carbon energy consultancy.
Sandrine Soubes, Centre for Facilitation
Dr Sandrine Soubes is a coach and facilitator for the research environment. She previously worked as a research scientist in the USA (National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland) and the UK (University of Sheffield) studying the bacterial cell cycle, the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, cell differentiation and early patterning in the developing brain. She has two Doctorates (one in Parasitology and one in Education) and hosts the Podcast “Research Lives & Cultures”.
Since 2019, she has worked as an independent consultant, supporting researchers and research leaders navigate the complexities of the research environment. What rocks her boat is creating spaces for conversations.
Maud von Soest, UKCEH
Dr Maud van Soest is a soil scientist specialising in biochemical interactions and particle transport within a landscape or ecosystem at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. She has a strong interest and experience in doing research in the Arctic and permafrost soils too: how complex arctic landscapes have developed over time and continue to change at varying rates and spatial scales. More recently, she started questioning the role that scientists play when accessing vulnerable landscapes, like the Arctic, “in the name of science”. Is research a justification to travel and take samples even, whereas tourists are being criticized for going to the same places? Or can travellers really become ambassadors of change?
A lot of her work at UKCEH is based at the Plynlimon Research Catchments in mid-Wales, where she contributes to long-term monitoring and novel experiments like Enhanced Rock Weathering Greenhouse Gas Removal and AI4SoilHealth. Her activities take place in the field, laboratory and behind her computer.
Phedeas Stephanides, UKERC and University of East Anglia
Dr Phedeas Stephanides is a Senior Research Fellow at UKERC’s Public Engagement Observatory and member of the Science, Society & Sustainability (3S) Research Group at the University of East Anglia. He is an environmental social scientist conducting critically constructive research on the intersections of ecological, technological, and political change. His work closely engages with contemporary debates on the role of civil society in innovation and progress, particularly in sustainability contexts. He has developed this interest through research in three core areas: (a) publics and their roles in socio-technical transitions to a low-carbon energy system, (b) social movements and community organisations creating radical solutions to climate change and sustainable development, and (c) smart grid technologies and their impacts on everyday practices. A key focus of his work is on “remaking participation”, including through the development of new approaches to mapping diverse forms of participation in these contexts.
Daniel Taylor, Aston University
Dan Taylor is a final year PhD Researcher in the Systems Research Group at the Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute, based at Aston University. His research focuses on the social, political and economic factors impacting biomass policy design in the UK, to understand how they impact the sustainability of biomass use to achieve net zero.
Dan graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2019 with an MSc in Environment, Development and Politics. Before starting his PhD, Dan worked as the Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Supergen Bioenergy Hub. During his time at the Hub, he collaborated with industry, academia, policy, and society to further develop the UK’s bioenergy sector and co-ordinated the Supergen programme’s engagement in COP26.
Dan is a Program Co-Chair on the Supergen Bioenergy Hub’s SHARE Committee for early career researchers.
Gareth Thomas, Cardiff University
Dr Gareth Thomas is a Postdoctoral Researcher on HI-ACT’s work package ‘Social and Political Perspectives’ and is a Research Fellow at Cardiff University. His most recent research has examined issues of justice, vulnerability and social acceptability relating to transitions towards more flexible energy systems, and the ways identities and experiences rooted in place shape citizens’ concerns and desires for transitions towards a low carbon economy.
Chris Twinn, Twinn Sustainability Innovation
Chris Twinn set up his own specialist practice – Twinn Sustainability Innovation – ten years ago after 28 years at Arup, latterly as Arup Fellow and director. He delivered his first zero carbon development more than 25 years ago and brings a wealth of experience in practical design, construction, and policy, from years working around the world. Chris is an EDGE think-tank core member, LETI member, Sustainable Development Foundation board member, Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard Governance Board member, Honorary Fellow of the RIBA, a CIBSE Fellow and on CIBSE publication and special interest groups. Chris leads the LETI Retrofit-2 workstream due to publish a new guide on “Retrofit at scale: how Many, how Deep, at what Cost” later this year.
Becky Waldram, Swansea University
Dr Becky Waldram works at Swansea University, as the Impact & Engagement Manager for the SUSTAIN Future Steel Manufacturing Research Hub. This project focusses on greener, cleaner and smarter steelmaking technologies. Within SUSTAIN, she works with the academic research teams across the Hub’s themes of Carbon Neutral Iron & Steelmaking and Smart Steel Processing to disseminate the research findings to the wider academic and industrial communities. Becky also participates in outreach activities with school groups and families to raise awareness of Materials Science & Engineering and the SUSTAIN project.
Molly Westby, EDI+
Molly Westby is the project manager for the EDI+ Fellowship and Network grant in the anthropology dept at Durham university. EDI+ is a fellowship scheme, which enables fellows to create interventions to improve an aspect of EDI in their own organisation. EDI+, in collaboration with IGNITE, are offering quarterly network events and a newsletter. Her own background is in medical anthropology and have also worked in equality, diversity and inclusivity in the corporate arena.
Guangling Zhao, Swansea University
Dr. Guangling Zhao obtained a Ph.D degree in Environmental Management from Aalborg University, Denmark. She is now employed as Technology Transfer Fellow- Techno-economic and LCA of Electrochemical Energy Storage as part of the Energy Storage Group which sits within the Sustainable Product and Engineering of Innovative Functional Industrial Coatings (SPECIFIC) at Swansea University. Her research interest is sustainable assessment of energy conversion (PV, biomass), storage technologies (battery, electrolysis/fuel cell), and energy storage integration. She specialises in lifecycle assessment, material flow analysis, resource efficiency and waste management. She works on lifecycle assessment and lifecycle cost analysis of building energy systems focusing on decarbonising energy consumption.