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Research Focus

Dr Emma Campbell is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University, Belfast. She uses a range of design-research approaches to reimagine sustainable and resilient systems, spaces and lifestyles to address our climate and biological emergency. Emma's research focuses on collaborative, transdisciplinary climate regeneration design-research applied to real-world contexts using circular and nature-based solutions. 

Research Projects:

AHRC Green Transition Ecosystem - 'Future Island-Island' (2024-2025)

Emma is a named researcher and co-lead of a work package on organic waste ecosystems alongside project PI for QUB, Professor Greg Keeffe, in this £4 million collaboration with Ulster University and Glasgow's School of Art. Future Island-Island translates the best design-led research into real-world benefits and is focused on enabling a circular mindset in Northern Ireland. Emma and Greg's work package will use co-design and engage with an ecosystem of creatives to explore transitions to food, energy, water and material circularity on Rathlin Island.

EU Horizon 2020  - 'UPSURGE' (2022-2025)

UPSURGE aims to address climate neutrality, air pollution and urban resilience through the implementation of different nature-based solutions (NBS) in five European cities: Belfast, Breda, Budapest, Maribor and Katowice. In her role as Demonstration Assessment Manager, Emma has worked closely with project PI, Professor Jennifer McKinley (Geography) and Professor Greg Keeffe (Architecture), and a small team of colleagues to facilitate the co-design, construction and implementation of NBS in each city. Emma has worked particularly closely with Belfast City Council (BCC) to co-design and implement community and research gardens on a site in South Belfast. Since 2022, Emma collaborated with BCC's Climate Team to develop and host co-design workshops for over 90 stakeholders including citizens, local government, environment groups, businesses, students and researchers. Emma has hosted talks and workshops on co-designing NBS for QUB's Architecture and Climate Change courses (2024) and at conferences in London and Hamburg (2023). Emma's efforts were recognised with a Citizenship and Outreach award by QUB's Postdoctoral Centre in 2023.

QUB Agility fund - 'Resilient Shrimp' (2023-2024)

Emma worked with Professor Chris Elliott at the Institute of Global Food Security in QUB's School of Biosciences as the lead Research Fellow on the Resilient Shrimp project. Funded internally, the project aims to enhance research quality and international partnerships to support the development of high-impact research projects and outputs. The project has focused on the challenges and pathways to resilient aquaculture, taking shrimp production as a case study.  Since May 23, the project has expanded to include partners from academia, non-profit organisations, industry and government in Thailand, Singapore, Australia and the UK, with expertise in food security, nutrition, disease, mycotoxins, aquacultural production, architectural design, geography and remote sensing. Emma was awarded ~£1000 from Safe Food to attend and present this project at the ASEAN ASSET conference in Bangkok. A review paper framing challenges and strategies to resilient shrimp production is due for publication.

Innovate UK-funded - 'Ideal Home' (2021-2022)

Emma was the lead Research Fellow working with project PI, Professor Greg Keeffe, and a transdisciplinary team of architecture and animal welfare researchers on the Innovate UK-funded Ideal Home Project in partnership with Moy Park, the UK's largest poultry integrator and JF McKenna. The project applied a research-by-design methodology to evaluate, model and recommend best practices in poultry house infrastructure to increase productivity, improve animal welfare and help the poultry sector meet net-zero emissions by 2040. The outcomes have helped Moy Park to develop a climate transition strategy that holistically considers the future of poultry production spaces, resource use and operational management. Reflections on the value of research-by-design to unpack and reimagine complex systems were published in 'Sustainability' Journal.

DfE funded PhD - 'Repacking the Supermarket: Food-Retail Evolution and Futures' (2017-2021)

Emma’s PhD research considered the emergence, development, and potential futures of supermarket shopping. Her final thesis brings together thematic insights to reimagine a range of different food-retail futures. This research has been published in several book chapters and a conference paper and forms the basis of Emma's TEDx talk 'Can bees help us to design sustainable supermarkets?' (2021). Emma has also presented at conferences and workshops globally and locally, from Doha to Vancouver, Nicosia to Belfast.





Since 2017, Emma has taught architectural design, technology and history and theory on both the Bsc and MArch courses at QUB Architecture.


  • Stage 1 - Coordination
  • Stage 1 - Architectural Design and Communication
  • Stage 2 -History and Theory

Emma worked closely with her colleagues to apply for external funding from the Department for Education to support stage 1 students in their transition into higher education. The award helped her and her colleagues to develop an innovative live-build project with local artists based on her research on the circular economy. A follow-up survey and focus group evidenced a mature understanding of circular economy principles which was further evidenced in the final stage 1 student project of semester 2. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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