UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Dr Julia Tomei

Associate Professor

Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Jul 2012

Research summary

Facilitating access to modern energy services has become a key arena for international governance, as highlighted by its inclusion in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I am interested in how these policy initiatives translate into local level outcomes, particularly in light of the vast resources that are being spent on interventions to widen access to modern energy services. 

I have three key areas of interest: first, I focus on energy equity, justice, and the provision of modern energy services to the poor. Here, I view energy as an enabler for better lives rather than as an end in itself, and my research investigates the differential impacts of energy within and between households, communities and nations. 

Second, my research examines local and community engagement with renewable energy technologies, and how energy interventions can be tailored to meet the needs of the end users. 

Finally, I am interested in the governance of land, specifically related to bioenergy and biofuels, and in the sustainability outcomes for local communities in producer countries. 

My work engages with research users from policy, academic and industry and examines the practical and policy mechanisms that can advance sustainable development. My research draws on qualitative and quantitative social research methods, which I have applied in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.  

I am a member and co-founder of the cross-faculty UCL Energy & Development Group https://www.ucl.ac.uk/energy-development/ and have been the ISR’s Ethics Coordinator since 2016.

In 2020, I was seconded to the UK Department for International Development (now the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) where I was a policy advisor in the Climate and Environment Department. 

Teaching summary

I currently teach on the MSc Sustainable Resources: economics, policy and transitions (SREPT) where I convene a module on 'Resource Governance in the global South'. This is a research-led module that examines various resource use issues in low and middle income countries from different disciplinary perspectives.

I also teach on the MSc Economics and Policy of Energy and Environment (EPEE) and co-convene a module with Professor Jim Watson.  Our module 'Energy, Environment and Resources in Developing Countries' covers key theories and frameworks that enable an enhanced understanding of energy, resources and development.

I also supervise PhD students with a focus on energy and resources in LMICs.


University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow | 2019
University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2014
University College London/Imperial College
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 2005
University of Leeds
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 2002


I am a social scientist whose research focuses on the livelihood, social and political dimensions of energy and resources in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). I have been at UCL since 2010 and work with colleagues from different disciplines across the University.

I read Biology at the University of Leeds, where I became interested in the interactions between people and the natural environment. This led to an MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College London where I specialised in ecosystem management. For my dissertation, I undertook research in the Peruvian Andes investigating agricultural biodiversity - specifically potatoes and maize. This highlighted the challenges climate change poses to communities in LMICs and beyond, and continues to influence my career and research interests.