Lois graduated from her BSc in Psychology at the University of Bath with First Class Honours in 2020. Lois developed a keen interest in environmental psychology when she worked for Bath Council on their Clean Air Zone implementation project. Since then, Lois has worked with several other local councils (e.g., Cornwall and Bristol City Councils), conducting research to help them implement new transport policies and reduce car dependency. Broadly, Lois' research seeks to understand and remove the barriers to support of transport climate policies, using a variety of novel methodologies. Lois is also interested in facilitating a ‘just transition’ in climate action, by considering minority, vulnerable groups in environmental research. Lois is passionate about her work having real-life implications, for policies and the public.
During the first year of the PhD, I have learned many new skills, collaborated with new academics and governmental stakeholders, partaken in public engagement, and published research. My first PhD paper, which is currently under review at the Journal of Environmental Psychology, was a major focus of the first few months of the PhD. Alongside this, I worked on a side project developing a measure of Environmental Knowledge, that is now under review at the journal Heliyon.
Throughout this year, I have learned new statistical methods and how to code in R. Developing more advanced statistical and coding skills has created opportunities to collaborate on other research projects, by helping with analysis. For example, I was a co-author on a paper about Climate Anxiety with colleagues at the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), which was published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. I have also been invited to join other research projects, such as a paper developing a new measure of Climate Distress, which has been submitted to the highly-ranked journal Lancet Planetary Health.
Honing my research skills and building my network has opened other doors – such as the opportunity to lead a consultancy project for Cornwall Council, aiming to reduce car dependency amongst their employees. I developed my qualitative skills, by designing, leading, and analysing data from 10 focus groups. This process involved communicating with the Council’s travel team, the Board of Executives, and academics. I was fortunate to lead other research assistants, and had the opportunity to present our findings to the Council’s Board. This required impartially and concisely communicating our analyses and policy recommendations to non-experts, requiring public engagement skills. I have also built connections with other local Councils, including Bristol– who have shared data with me for a research project, and Bath, for which I was fortunate to discuss my research with the MP of Bath. By sharing my findings with policy makers, I hope to contribute to the development of well-accepted policies that are fair for all societal groups.
Alongside communicating my research to Council stakeholders, I have engaged with the public. For example, I have spoken on the radio three times, and was interviewed for a newspaper piece. Throughout this year, I have also taken on more leadership roles. I am currently leading the Environment, Transport, and Sustainability research group, which involves the organisation of internal and external seminar speakers, and lab groups. I have enjoyed networking with other environmental researchers. In particular, I’ve been fortunate to have Dr Christina Demski from CAST join my supervision team this year.
Another highlight has been my success in securing research funding. I have won three different funding applications, which has enabled me to attend a coding course, and fund participant recruitment costs.
In addition to my first PhD paper, I have also designed and collected data for my second and third PhD projects, and have submitted an abstract to present at the International Conference of Environmental Psychology next year. Presenting here will extend the skills I developed this year presenting at internal conferences, such as the Bath Psychology and AAPS Conferences.
I am proud to have passed my PhD confirmation, having received helpful feedback. Finally, I was recently awarded a prestigious funded placement at the Climate Change Committee, to join their new ‘People’ team, aiming to integrate behavioural insights into Climate Change policies. This will allow me to understand how research, like my own, is translated into robust policy recommendations. Overall, the first year of my PhD has been a steep learning curve, but has been overall a rewarding and enjoyable experience. I am excited to continue my research and gain more new experiences in 2023.