Director of Sustainable Science Groups
Name: Luciana Miu
Current Career Status: PhD candidate
Institution:Imperial College London
I am a new-start PhD candidate at Imperial College London, researching the opportunities for developing an efficient, low-carbon residential sector in the UK. My academic background in environmental science (BSc) and sustainable energy (MSc), as well as my experience working as a Project Coordinator at the University of Edinburgh’s Department for Sustainability, has provided me with a deep understanding of not only the role of science and engineering in promoting sustainability, but also the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. As such, I have populated my academic and professional pathways with efforts to bring together diverse people to collaborate on solving global challenges, from creating educational programmes to attending conferences and summer schools, from Edinburgh to Zurich to Shanghai.
My enthusiasm for the idea of holistic, interdisciplinary solutions to global issues has also endowed me with a huge passion for travelling, which is also my main hobby. Wherever I go, I strive to gain a deep experience of the local/regional perspective, to better understand what needs we should be addressing when developing impactful solutions for sustainability. I am also passionate about theatre and music, and the role of the arts in creating positive, cohesive communities of culture.
Statement of Interest
- Why do you wish to stand for your chosen position?
- How do you plan to support the mission and aims of NESSE in your position, if elected?
- Your experience in networking organizations, international projects, or any other experience that has prepared you for serving on the Executive Board of NESSE.
I believe that the development of real-world solutions to current global challenges is reliant on the flourishing of innovation and ideation hubs. In these hubs, networks of like-minded professionals can become cemented around common goals for solving sustainability challenges, providing unique opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration. Often, these hubs draw together people working in the same institution, with very similar objectives for their work, but who had not crossed paths and thus not explored potentially vital opportunities for collaboration and co-creation. The principle of these hubs is well-embodied by the Sustainable Science Groups of NESSE, which I believe to be a crucial initiative to populate the global academic environment with nodes in the wide network, where people can physically come together and share ideas, experiences and their enthusiasm for advancing the sustainability agenda. Besides these important opportunities for discussion, sharing and collaboration, I also believe that the Sustainable Science Groups offer significant potential in inspiring young science and engineering researchers to take their research out of the lab and into the world, learning how valuable of a difference it can make.
The huge potential of the Sustainable Science Groups network can only be achieved if it is appropriately managed, and if the needs of the groups are adequately identified and addressed by the NESSE Executive Board. If I am elected, I plan to work closely with the existing groups to identify their development needs and how NESSE might be able to support them to expand to their full potential. This will involve discussing with them their plans for the upcoming year, and their experience of the past year, in terms of achievements and shortfalls of their group. If common terms between the ideas, expectations and limitations of the groups are identified, this could form the basis of strategic-level action on the part of NESSE, in order to improve the experience of the Sustainable Science Groups network. The ideas, expectations and limitations of the groups will thus be communicated to the NESSE Executive Board, along with suggestions on actions that could be taken, as well as a timeline for implementation over the coming term.
For existing groups and interested emerging networks, I will also work to continue the development of online resources for setting up, managing and expanding a Sustainable Science Group. In my previous work at the University of Edinburgh’s Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability, I was responsible for delivering workshops and writing guidelines for event management and student engagement activities, and would be happy to deliver something similar to the Sustainable Science Groups, should this be of interest. I would also be interested to use contacts from my former studies and work to formulate webinars, online resources or short courses on the management of networks (including aspects as basic as managing a mailing list or sending newsletters). Finally, my previous work at the University of Edinburgh also involved working closely with the communications and media production team of my department, to promote the work being done through events and student engagement activities. I would be interested in further producing video, photo and text resources for promotion of the Sustainable Science Groups and their achievements.
I am also be committed to the expansion of the Sustainable Science Groups network around the world. Scoping out interested parties is a difficult endeavour, particularly when it involves something as organic as a group based on research interests, however I intend to use my existing contacts at various universities (including the University of Edinburgh, TU Berlin, Sciences Po and Tongji University in Shanghai, with the UNEP-Tongji Institute) and assess the potential to seed a group at these institutions. I would also be delighted to work with existing NESSE members to scope the potential of forming Sustainable Science Groups at other universities.
Finally, I strongly believe that my academic and professional experience have shaped me to be a good candidate for the position of Director of Sustainable Science Groups. I have experience with setting up and managing networks of students based on a common interest in sustainability, including the Student Forum for Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Sustainability Jam. These networks have been highly successful and remain very active in bringing together students sharing a passion for sustainable improvements of their campus. My exposure to the International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability (2013, Shanghai), the Danish Agency for International Education Summer School (2013, Copenhagen) and the ETH-Sankt Gallen Energy Systems in Transition Summer School (2016, Zurich) has also deepened my understanding of international collaboration and the importance of international network development. These experiences have, I believe, actively shaped my enthusiasm for interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-disciplinary research, which I would love to take forward in the position of Director of Sustainable Science Groups.