Dr Sarah Bell


Photo of Sarah Bell

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Job title: Senior Lecturer
Division: Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
Organisation: University College London
Tags: Fellowship: LWEC Fellowship, Researcher, University College London
Related theme: Engineering LWEC


Sarah Bell is an environmental engineer and Director of the Engineering Exchange at UCL. Her research addresses the relationships between engineering, infrastructure and society in order to address urban sustainability and resilience.

My Fellowship

Infrastructure systems such as water, transport and energy are vital to British society and the economy. Designing infrastructure for the future is a very complex task that needs to take into account the values, experiences and requirements of local communities and everyday people. Engineers and experts are good at developing technical solutions to well defined problems, but they have not been as successful at understanding the needs and expectations of local communities. Engineers need new tools to be able to better understand and account for social factors in their designs.

Local communities will also have important roles to play in adapting to climate change and other uncertain events in the future, so it is important that local communities and engineers come together to decide what is important in designing future infrastructure. This fellowship will help Dr Sarah Bell to learn from good examples of how local communities can be involved in infrastructure decisions. Her research team will work with communities and engineers to define methods and tools to allow for better integration of community needs and ideas into infrastructure design.

These tools and methods might include checklists or surveys to quickly understand what communities need and what they want for the future, calculators to help engineers working with communities to quickly calculate the environmental impacts and costs of different ideas for infrastructure, and risk assessments to understand the problems that might occur if communities are not involved in engineering design and the benefits that might be possible if they are.

Career benefits of Fellowship

The LWEC Fellowship provides time and resources to focus on developing research in partnership with community and industry stakeholders.