The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


People in focus: Beth Morgan passes PhD

29 June 2016


Last week, Beth Morgan passed her PhD with minor amendments. C&PM spoke with Beth to learn more about her motivations and what lies ahead.

You’ve just finished your PhD – congratulations. What were you trying to find out and what made you interested in your area?

I was looking at how BIM (Building Information Modelling) is being used in the construction industry. My interest in this partly stems from my working experience. I have worked in the industry for about 15 years before I came here. In the early 2000s, I led Constructing Excellence’s research department. We worked in a very early BIM Level 1 project called Avanti in 2000. I wanted to find out more about how BIM is being used in projects and how the UK Government mandate has effected this. I wanted to know why it taking so long to adopt BIM and what we can learn from it. 

What did you find?

I looked specifically at an organisation and how, over the period 2000 to 2015, they were implementing BIM, what worked, and what didn’t work. I found that when you looked at their practices, and how people are looking at BIM in projects when they were supported by policies, standards and guidelines, they were able to use it a lot more effectively than when there was misalignment between them. My research is really calling for people to pay more attention to how things work at the coalface.

How long has it taken to complete your PhD?

I actually started in 2012 and I did my first year at Imperial College with Andy Davies and when he moved here I came with him in 2012. I passed my viva last week!

How are you hoping to take your research forward?

I’m hoping to carry on doing some more research with different departments at UCL, looking at how BIM is being used in more advanced ways. That will involve presentations at a lot of conferences and publications. I am particularly interested in more practitioner-oriented publications and conferences.

Is there anything else that lies ahead in addition to that?

Well I hope to be able to do more research with business about BIM. It’s a fascinating area. On a personal basis, I’ve got two young kids and they finish school for the summer holidays soon. So I’m looking forward to spending summer with them and not thinking about my PhD!

Do you want to stay in advisory or academic circles?

On a professional basis, my interest has always been looking at the juncture between practice and theory, or business and academia, and involvement with policy as well. I would really like to stay in that space. I see these studies as a springboard to do this.

Finally, how have you found the school in terms of their engagement with your research and the support it has given you?

The school has been very helpful and it’s been really good to get involved in wider initiatives at UCL and at The Bartlett, of which there are many. I think that’s something that the school and its students could build upon in the future, drawing on its position as The Bartlett, one of the leading schools of the Built Environment internationally. The diversity of the students and staff at UCL make it an incredibly rich, interdisciplinary university – it gets enormous value from this diversity.

I also think engagement with major conferences, such as IRNOP last year which was hosted by the school, provide fantastic opportunities for research students to talk about your work. I think little things like giving your students business cards - especially research students - and encouraging them to see themselves as professionals is very important, especially when you are undertaking research with business because they expect that.