The challenges and opportunities of urban living covers a huge spectrum of disciplines and fields of research.

As such, many areas of the university are active in research either focuses directly on urban issues or related indirectly. Recognising this diversity, one of the objectives of the Urban Living Research Theme is to identify opportunities for synergy and to bring colleagues together to work in cross-disciplinary groups towards research bids and development of innovative approaches. 

Urban Living Awards 2018-19

The Awards offer seed funding to stimulate cross-disciplinary research activities, focused on building capacity or developing research proposals. The Awards are open to academic and research staff, and to PGR students, but must involve staff or PGRs from at least two departments/schools and include more than one distinct discipline. 

We are thrilled to announce that the third round of was hugely successful this year. The competition closed in February 2019 and we received a number of high quality proposals; we were able to fund six colleagues to carry out their chosen research project. These six projects will help to further develop the Urban Living Research Theme and the research involved covers the areas of interest relating to all three Faculties.

Details of the awarded projects are below. 

Project title: Implications of contemporary urban living on mental health and acute distress

PI: Dr Paul Hanna - Psychology, FHMS

CoI(s): Dr Chrissie Jones - Psychology, FHMS; Dr Anna de Jong - School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, FASS

Brief description: This project will undertake a systematic review of existing research in urban living and mental health/acute distress, focusing on poverty, community fragmentation, social isolation and disconnection from nature. The project aims to articulate the research gaps arising from a previous lack of focus on contemporary urban living in terms of the environment, stressors and lack of community based spaces as mental health resources.


Project title: Hedge Design for the Abatement of Traffic Emissions (HedgeDATE)

PI: Professor Prashant Kumar - Civil and Environmental Engineering, FEPS 

CoI(s): Dr Kayleigh Wyles - Psychology, FHMS; Dr Jeewaka Mendis - Surrey Clinical Research Centre, FHMS; Dr Ben Field - Biosciences and Medicine, FHMS; Mr Yendle Barwise - Civil and Environmental Engineering, FEPS; Mr Arvind Tiwari - Civil and Environmental Engineering, FEPS; Mr KV Abhijith - Civil and Environmental Engineering, FEPS; Dr Sachit Mahajan - Civil and Environmental Engineering, FEPS; Dr Gopinath Kalaiarasan - Civil and Environmental Engineering, FEPS 

Brief description: Building upon Surrey's extensive expertise in green infrastructure (GI) and leveraging some significant ongoing research projects, the aim of HedgeDATE is to establish an interdisciplinary, university-wide alliance to refine and disseminate advice on GI implementation via technological innovation. One output of the project will be to design and construct a web-based application incorporating Surrey-led research findings on GI design for air pollution abatement which end-users can refer to for advice. 


Project title: Sounds and the City - Acoustic detection of open windows in indoor environments

PI: Dr Christian Kroos

CoI(s): Yin Cao - CVSSP, FEPS; Dr Philip Coleman - Institute of Sound Recording, FEPS 

Brief description: The research in this project will be a first step towards mapping urban noise pollution experienced indoors and finding ways to reduce its negative impact in peoples' homes.Using the methods of dataset acquisition, perception experiments and machine recognition, the aims of the project are to determine the degree of reliability with which an open window can be recognised by humans and machines under varying circumstances based on acoustic cues only and to investigate whether the findings for humans and machines can inform one another to be used for further application-related research.


Project title: Exploring EV user charging preferences

PI: Dr Nikolas Thomopolous - School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, FASS

CoI(s): Dr Saber Fallah - Mechanical Engineering, FEPS; Dr Iis Tussyadiah - School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, FASS; Dr Athina Ioannou - School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, FASS

Brief description: This project will explore and evaluate demand and user preferences for Electric Vehicle (EV) charging schemes and solutions. A web-based EV user survey will be conducted to assess the preferences of current EV users (>200) to inform new business models. The data gathered will be from a variety of different perspectives such as diverse conurbation sizes, geographic locations, socio-economic backgrounds and diverse vehicle type. The survey will also explore user views about innovative business models for future cities. 


Project title: The effect of cycle lanes on cyclists' exposure to pollution due to road vehicles

PI: Dr Marco Placidi - Mechanical Engineering Sciences, FEPS

CoI(s): Professor Prashant Kumar - Civil and Environmental Engineering, FEPS

Brief description: This project combines field measurements and wind tunnel studies by performing high-fidelity wind tunnel experiments and combining these with field measurements. The project will involve a collaboration with Transport for London (TfL) which will provide the team with an accurate 3D map of the required urban environment.


Project title: The moderating role of tourist travel volume on urban destinations' traffic congestion - a pilot study

PI: Dr Anyu Liu - School of Hospitality and Tourism, FASS

CoI(s): Professor Ning Wang - Institute for Communication Systems (ICS), FEPS

Brief description: The aim of this project is to investigate the moderating role of tourist travel volume from demand and supply perspectives using big data analysis. The research will use mobile phone position and traffic flow data to analyse the equilibrium between tourist transportation demand and public transportation supply. 



Due to the success of the first round of the scheme, we launched the second round of the programme during early 2018. 

We are delighted to announce that we once again received a number of very high standard applications and awarded four grants. The four projects/activities funded will help to further the ongoing development of the Urban Living Research Theme and involve researchers from all three Faculties and researchers at all levels.

Details of the awarded projects are below. 

Project title: Green Infrastructure and Health Mapping Alliance of Surrey Academics (GREENMASS)

PI: Professor Prashant Kumar - Civil and Environmental Engineering (FEPS)

CoI: Professor Simon de Lusignan - Clinical and Experimental Medicine (FHMS)

CoI: Professor Angela Druckman - CES (FEPS)

CoI: Professor Derk Jan Dijk - Clinican and Experimental Medicine (FHMS)

CoI: Dr Birgitta Gatersleben - Psychology (FHMS)

CoI: Dr Anne Skeldon - Mathematics (FEPS)

Brief description: The aim of the GREENMASS project was to establish a cross-disciplinary, University-wide alliance to understand links between Green Infrastructure (GI), such as trees and hedges and public health in urban areas. The relationship between GI interventions and health problems such as respiratory diseases, hospital admissions and mental and cardiovascular illnesses was explored. 


Project title: The development of a multi-disciplinary bid to explore the impact energy theft is having on efforts to provide sustainable, equitable and economic energy for all in developing countries

PI: Dr Tom Roberts - Sociology (FASS)

CoI: Professor Matt Leach - CES (FEPS)

Brief description: The aim of the project was to support the development of a large multi-disciplinary research proposal to the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) during summer 2018. The project aimed to enable the existing consortium of British and Indian researchers to recruit additional partners in sub-Saharan Africa and to provide them with support to build capacity to engage with a global research project. 


Project title: State of the art review on the impact of urban living, including lifestyle and social factors, on vitamin D status for ethnic populations

PI: Marcela Moraes Mendes - Department of Nutrition (FHMS)

CoI: Dr Andrea Darling - Department of Nutrition (FHMS)

CoI: Dr Kathryn Hart - Department of Nutrition (FHMS)

CoI: Professor Susan Lanham-New - Department of Nutrition (FHMS)

CoI: Professor Richard Murphy - CES (FEPS)

CoI: Professor Steve Morse - CES (FEPS)

Brief description: The project aimed to contribute to the development of further research on the impact of ethnicity and urban environment on risk of vitamin D deficiency. The review aimed to outline the need to investigate the role of urban living to address vitamin D deficiency in different ethnic groups whilst promoting the improvement of urban living in order to develop a healthier community. 


Project title: Increasing sustainable travel behaviour in urban environments: proactive and reactive responses to environmental images in a digital setting

PI: Dr Candice Howarth - School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (SHTM) (FASS)

CoI: Iis Tussyadiah - SHTM (FASS)

CoI: Chris Jones - Psychology (FHMS)

CoI: Joe Kantenbacher - SHTM (FASS)

CoI: Stella Wan Tian - SHTM (FASS)

Brief description: The project aimed to explore the impact of climate change and air pollution images on sustainable travel behaviour intentions in an urban context. It also aimed to examine whether the images increase salience to sustainable transport solutions and are effective in increasing sustainable urban transportation behaviour intentions. 



The inaugural Urban Living Awards scheme ran during spring 2017 and we received a number of high quality applications from all three Faculties involving researchers at all levels. We chose to fund the three projects/activities which offered the greatest value to the advancement of Urban Living at the University.

The projects covered diverse areas of interest including costume cultures (cosplay), design innovation and an investigation into whether living in urban areas is bad for mental health. 

Details about the winning projects are below. 

Project title: Pilot study and workshop for costume cultures in contemporary Britain

PI: Dr Rachel Hann, GSA (working with Sociology)

Brief description: This was a feasibility study involving ethnographic fieldwork at costume play (cosplay) conventions, exploring how costume cultures afford a particular mode of cultural participation in contemporary British urban culture. Following the feasibility study, a one-day workshop was held at Surrey at which a multi-disciplinary team discussed and agreed a framework for development of a bid to the AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship. 


Project title: Design innovation in the urban living environment

PI: Professor Lampros Stergioulas, Surrey Business School (working with Computer Science and Sociology)

Brief description: Cities offer the resources, technologies, tools, strengths, knowledge and availability of new business ventures to generate and catalyse innovation but also face large challenges of sustainability and economic and social justice. New approaches are needed to exploit and manage the complexity for the benefit of, and with, urban communities. The project aimed to publish a policy/position paper and will set up a Surrey-led Urban Design-enables Innovation community hub to bring together research, policy and practice. 


Project title: Is urban living in England bad for your mental health? 

PI: Professor Simon de Lusignan, Clinical and Experimental Medicine (working with CES and Psychology)

Brief description: Using the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)'s Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) health dataset, held at Surrey, this project aimed to explore whether living in an urban setting has a detrimental effect on common mental health problems. The project aimed to produce a journal publication and catalyse a multi-disciplinary research programme. 

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