CASA recruits high-calibre students from a diverse range of educational and professional backgrounds. Hear from a selection of our graduates in their own word showcasing some of their work after CASA.
MSc Smart Cities & Urban Analytics
Kirsten Zeller 2016-2017
I was attracted to apply for CASA’s MSc in Smart Cities and Urban Analytics due to its emphasis on understanding the city through a trans-disciplinary and complex systems lens, whilst using an arsenal of programming, spatial analysis and statistical techniques to explore this perspective of the urban realm.
Prior to joining CASA in 2016, I had primarily conducted research and editorial work related to urban environmental sustainability in the third sector and academia in Kenya, Berlin and London. With a social sciences and humanities background (BA in anthropology, geography and journalism and an MA in Critical Media Studies), the learning curve was undeniably steep. However, the curriculum struck a balance between being both accessible and challenging for students with a diverse range of experiences and interests. It offered a broad scope of material and analytical tools which have since proven to be highly applicable. The weekly seminars additionally presented a handy window into data-led work taking place across sectors. The dedication and sincerity of the lecturers and others in the department, as well as collaborating with and learning from fellow students was above all invaluable.
CASA aided me to collaborate with Westminster City Council’s Business Intelligence team on my dissertation, which regarded noise and the role of busking in the West End’s night time economy. This opportunity allowed me to tackle a tangible, real-world problem within a local government context employing both quantitative and qualitative approaches. I was able to offer policy recommendations for the borough’s night time economy strategy which was still in its early stages. Eager to continue working in this vein, I began working for the local authority as an Analyst. In this role, I am able to inform evidence-based approaches to policy and more effective service delivery through various forms of data and spatial analysis, as well as contribute to the council’s formulation of strategies relating to data and “smart” applications of technology in the city. This MSc programme undoubtedly enabled me to think critically about the processes by which the Smart City promise is interpreted and shaped both in the short and long term.
Camilla Desideri, 2015-2016
After attending my MSc Smart Cities and Urban Analytics I started working as Urban Development and Smart Cities Researcher at Siemens in London. I am currently working on some personal projects on traffic data mapping and visualisation. The experience at CASA was a positive launching pad to the Smart Cities modelling field. It gave me the necessary skills to deal with data analysis and visualisation but mostly helped me realising there are many different ways to solve a problem. The best extra-gain of studying in the most prestigious U.K. department for Urban Analytics research, is the network of relationships built during this year. I had the opportunity to meet and study with inspiring students, lecturers and staff with whom I still relate for professional and life tips.
MRes Spatial Data Science & Visualisation
Heidi Mok, 2014-2015
My experience at CASA was a deep dive into the shared worlds of spatial analysis, GIS, visualisation, programming, statistics, models, and systems thinking. It was challenging but also tremendously rewarding to learn from such a diverse group of lecturers and fellow students.
The program taught me how to make connections across disciplines in order to discover new methods for solving spatial problems. Since completing my masters, I travelled to 11 countries and made it a point to map out my itinerary along the way. Now I’m working as a service designer in Toronto. In my role, I often encounter projects where I’ll need to communicate complex information through visualisation. Building on the skills I learned at CASA, I’m able to explore new programmatic ways of visualising data using Processing.
I now have an expanded toolkit of knowledge, resources, and techniques that will help me tackle a wider range of projects, wherever my career takes me! I’d recommend this course to any curious person out there who is interested in gaining a breadth of knowledge in the worlds mentioned above, while also wanting to pursue a research topic that you can really sink your teeth into.
Balamurugan Soundararaj, 2012-2013
Balamurugan Soundararaj completed his MRes in September 2013. With a background in urban and regional planning, prior to joining CASA, Bala had worked in various sectors ranging from retail, real estate consulting, traffic and transportation planning to architectural conservation, and was looking for a course which connects the common theme in his varied areas of interest – the degree provided him with necessary theoretical knowledge as well as practical skills and introduced him to recent developments in research and practice in the field.
Bala said: “The year I spent in CASA was one of the most intense and productive ones I have spent learning, practising and building new, interesting ideas around analysing and visualising built environment. Being immersed in such an inspiring place with some of the brightest minds pursuing varied research interests had an immense influence in my thought process and approach towards research and problem solving.
"In addition to the classes and projects, being amidst numerous events, lectures, seminars and conferences taking place in and around the department provided the potential to be in the middle of a constant flow of information, ideas and people. The design of the course had a perfect balance between research, learning and practice which encouraged innovation and provided me with numerous options to pursue after the course”
Since graduating, Bala has been working as a research associate with UCL, School of Construction and Project Management for the Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Transport for London, UCL and Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) in evaluating, designing and implementing collaborative teams for complex infrastructure projects through organisational network analysis.
This project is a part of the ongoing attempt to bring both industry and academia to create a ‘network’ based theory and practice in project management which can be used by managers of large, complex infrastructure projects to ensure efficient design of the organisational structure and timely interventions preventing adversarial behaviour and enhancing project performance.
Nicola Clark, 2011-2013
Nicola completed her MRes in 2013 having studied for the qualification part-time for two years whilst also working in monitoring and evaluation for The Prince’s Trust.
Having previously worked as a research consultant in the regeneration sector, Nicola was looking for a course that would further develop her research and analysis skills and enhance her knowledge of spatial analysis and visualisation tools and the ways in which they could utilised to enhance projects aimed at tackling social exclusion.
Nicola said: “I found UCL and particularly CASA to be a really innovative and inspiring place to study, learning new techniques in social and spatial data analysis and visualisation techniques and working closely with a host of experts in the sector.
"As part of a group I was involved in building a 3D augmented reality model of the campus incorporating live data feeds. Through my dissertation I explored how developments in open data, big data and geospatial analysis could be utilised by the charity and voluntary sector and the challenges this sector frequently face in this“.
Since graduating, Nicola has been working for The Children’s Society as their Data Strategy Manager. The Children’s Society is a national charity aiming to transform the lives of disadvantaged children and young people. Nicola’s role as Data Strategy Manager involves ensuring the right operational performance and data and analysis is available and used to drive decision-making across the organisation.
Nicola oversees four Analysts working across the country. Their data analysis informs and provides evidence for decisions about targeting and design of services and products and supports business development. The Children’s Society offers internships and volunteering opportunities.
Jack Harrison, MRes ASAV 2011-2012
I completed the CASA MRes Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation course in its inaugural 2011/12 run.
After handing in my dissertation in September 2012 I've been working as a Product Developer at the Ordnance Survey, where I help to prototype new data products and services for the business. We use a wide range of changing and new technologies in our team, and the culture of experimentation & novel ideas at CASA was a great foundation for this way of working.
One of my current side projects is an end-to-end Twitter streaming analysis platform using open-source software like MongoDB and D3.js - you can follow its progress through tutorials on my blog or via its GitHub repo. I tweet regularly at @jhrrsn and I'm happy to answer any questions about the MRes, OS or spatial/visualisation queries in general!
Flora Roumpani, MRes ASAV 2011-2012
I am Flora Roumpani and I was part of the 2011-2012 CASA MRes in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualization. Before joining CASA, I studied architecture engineering in the University of Patras in Greece and later on I worked as a Planner for 4 years. I was always interested in the future of the city, virtual environments and exploring the ways in which cities evolve, which is why in my MRes dissertation I worked on the development of urban modelling theories within interactive 3D enviroments.
MPhil/PhD Advanced Spatial Analysis
Daryl Lloyd, PhD Advanced Spatial Analysis, 2005
Daryl has been a member of the Government Statistical Service since 2005. He has written, contributed to or edited numerous government statistical reports and releases across a range of subjects from housing to transport accessibility.
He spent almost ten years at the Department for Transport, heading up the road safety statistics team for around half that time. In this role, Daryl was responsible for the collection, quality assurance, analysis and publication of all data on road traffic collisions for the whole of Great Britain. As part of this, he acted as the UK’s representative to the EU’s CARE group and was on the strategic advisory panel of the OECD’s IRTAD road safety data group. One of the high points of his time at DfT was winning the 2016 Royal Statistical Society’s Excellence in Official Statistics award.
Since moving to DFID in 2017, Daryl has had responsibility for results and data analysis of multilateral effectiveness and currently leads on the collection and disability disaggregated data.
Although he no longer formally works on GIS or geospatial analysis, Daryl is part of DFID’s geospatial community of practice and is actively working with parts of the organisation, especially country offices in places like Afghanistan, to help build their capacity and capabilities.
Daryl completed his PhD at CASA in 2005 and worked with us as a Research Fellow between 2003 and 2004.