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Dr Catalina Spataru

Dr Catalina Spataru

Associate Professor

Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
18th Oct 2010

Research summary

Catalina specialises in whole energy systems and resource nexus modelling for governance and decision making, policies analysis, SDGs, scenarios under different climate conditions and disasters risk reduction. She is the Head of the Islands Laboratory at UCL https://islandslaboratory.com, a unique initiative that aims to assess sustainable solutions in a circular economy under different climatic conditions for island nations worldwide. She has made contributions on sustainability concepts, strategies, decision making and policy. In inverse chronological order examples of her work:
  • a simulation model for islands (ISLA model) to assess future changes in energy demand and supply under different climate conditions (2015-2018), expand to water, materials (2018-2019), resource allocation in case of disaster risk reduction (2019) and waste to energy, applied to more than 200 islands;

  • a dynamic water-energy-land model (IDA3/5) (2013-2016) to analyse trade-offs between resources under different climate change scenarios 
  • GLoDiesel model a simulation software designed for analysis of interconnections between regions (islands, countries) (2010, 2018)
  • worked towards the development of a in-house dynamic energy model (DynEMo) (2010-2013), and a scalable dynamic energy model (DEAM) (2013-2015) simulating half hourly energy flows for consumers connected to substations to determine possible future loads imposed to plan upgrades with Prof Mark Barrett.
  • a framework to assess the impact of coupling energy networks for Europe 
  • a decision making tool for safety and risk assessment of end users following releases of NG/H2, probability assessment of leakages and explosions (2005-2009), work used to define a Decision Support Tool by EC for EU countries, to assess the socio-economic aspects of H2 addition to NG system. 
  • energy models at micro distributed level and a Smart Home tool (2007-2010) with a friendly user interface to determine potential savings due to behavioural change and technologies upgrade
She tested indoor localisation systems for people tracking and activity recognition including wireless networks, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and cameras (2008-2011)

Teaching summary

She is currently leading and teaching two modules:

  • Smart Energy Systems Module (MSc EDE) (since 2013- ), a multidisciplinary module which she proposed and developed to provide students with an understanding of methods, concepts and practice of current and future whole energy system dynamics, offering a combination of theory, practical case studies, with interactive exercises, use of data and development of a model for islands.
  • Metrics, Modelling and Visualisation of the Resource Nexus module (MSc Sustainable Resources) (since 2015- ) an interdisciplinary module developed to provide an understanding of trade-offs between resources (water, energy, land, food, materials) in a circular economy, with focus on sustainable islands
Between 2005-2013 she taught lectures on mathematics, fluid mechanics, renewable energy and policy for MSc students, lab demonstrations (PV, Wind Turbines) for undergraduate; lectures for TMI module (2012-2015); co-run Energy Systems Modelling module (MScEDE) (2011-2014); delivered lectures part of UCL Engineering IEP yr1 Sustainable Energy Challenge (2014-2015);  lead and taught the module Communication Skills (MRes EDS) (2015-2019).
She supervises various MSc, Mres and PhD students. Some of them took the models she developed and extend/apply them in their research. For example, DEAM algorithms were included in the PhD model SpDEAM of Ed Sharp which calculates hourly loads at a spatial resolution of 0.5degrees Latitude/Longitude; IDA3 used by Theo Semertzidis in his PhD to run various future scenarios for water-energy nexus in Brazil. 

Biography

Catalina is an Associate Professor in Global Energy and Resources and the Head of Islands Laboratory. She received several awards and fellowships during studies (e.g Socrates-Erasmus) and for excellent research (e.g Award Trevithick from Institution of Civil Engineers) (see achievements). She was invited as a visitor senior research fellow at MIT, USA (2014) and a visiting professor at Nuertingen-Geislingen University Germany (2017). She is often invited as a speaker, acknowledged by a variety of stakeholders. She delivered talks and lectures in universities (e.g Princeton University, Stanford University, MIT) and professional circles (e.g. Cheltenham Science Festival UK, European Business Summit Brussels, UN Environmental Management Group Nexus Dialogues Series), at conferences (e.g IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference). She organised public engagement events in collaboration with New Economics Foundation and funded by Royal Academy of Engineering. She regularly engaged with media being interviewed (e.g BBC) or cited (e.g Sunday Telegraph)She has been part of advisory board for conferences (e.g Nexus 2018: Water, food, energy and climate); regularly act as expert review panel for the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development Brazil, National Research Agency France, Franco-German panels, expert reviewer for Innovate UK, examiner for Phd students (Sweden, Finland, UK). She was member of the WEC Scenarios Study Group. She is the regional representative of the IEEE Women in Power (R8- Europe).  

She made contribution to international reports, e.g. World Energy Council Scenarios Composing Energy futures to 2050; Global Systems Science Orientation paper part of EU-FET consultation process. 

Publications