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Research Focus

Emma 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 systems and spaces that address our climate and biological emergency. Emma is particularly interested in applied climate regeneration design using circular economy principles and nature-based solutions in co-creation settings.

Emma currently works on the EU Horizon 2020-funded UPSURGE project which aims to address climate neutrality, air pollution and urban resilience on several demonstration sites across five European cities including Belfast. Emma manages the demonstration assessment committee, tasked to facilitate the co-design, construction and implementation of nature-based solutions in each city. Recently, she developed a number of co-design workshops with stakeholders in collaboration with Belfast City Council.

Previously, Emma worked on the Innovate UK-funded Ideal Home Project in partnership with Moy Park, the UK's largest poultry integrator. The project applied a research-by-design methodology to evaluate, model and recommend best practice in poultry house infrastructure with an aim 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.

Emma’s PhD research applied a similar methodology to consider 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. 

An experienced public speaker, Emma has presented her research at conferences and workshops globally and locally, from Doha to Vancouver, Nicosia to Belfast. In Spring 2021, she recorded a TEDx talk called ‘Can bees help us to design sustainable supermarkets?’ which discusses how the principles of circularity might be embedded in a future food shopping experience.




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 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


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