UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Freya Roberts

Freya Roberts is a Project Manager at the UCL Climate Action Unit who joined the Faculty in January.

Freya Roberts - UCL Climate Action Unit

1 March 2022

When did you take up this position? What was your position beforehand? 

I spent 2021 on a part-time secondment as a Project Manager for the Climate Action Unit. At the end of 2021 it was clear the Unit’s work was ramping up and needed more resources, so I joined the team full-time in January 2022. 

Before that, I worked supporting a research theme in the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL for five years doing admin, communications, events, publications and overseeing funding. This job gave me a broad skill set and helped me understand how the UCL machinery works. 

Before UCL, I worked as a climate science researcher and writer for the website Carbon Brief and had some other interesting jobs including running a bakery and being a PA to a private family.

Tell me about your work at UCL - how do you spend your days, and what makes your role different to similar positions elsewhere? 

My job with the Climate Action Unit is a bit of everything – in a way that often happens with small teams and start-ups. My main task is to keep track of all the projects the Climate Action Unit is running. 

The projects range in size and length: sometimes it’s a few workshops, sometimes a bespoke programme, sometimes a collaboration with a partner organisation or UCL department over several years. 

I help plan out the work packages, I keep an eye on progress and deadlines, and I make sure we are keeping everyone informed. I also do all the internal operations for the Climate Action Unit – finances, funding, networking, website, communications, writing and editing. 

Last year I became a climate risk communications fellow for the COP26 University Network which has enabled me to branch out into writing publications, delivering online workshops and generally dipping my toes into academic waters!

Can you tell us about any current or future projects that you're looking forward to working on?

In February an article I wrote for the Environment Magazine was published online: it’s about the way people communicate about climate risk and is (I hope) an easy read if you want to get a flavour of the team’s work. 

I enjoy taking academic content and making it more enjoyable for non-expert audiences to engage with – it builds on the skills I developed as a science writer earlier in my career. Last week I tried my hand at podcasting – so in the near future you’ll be able to hear me discussing how the human brain engages with the idea of climate risk (which is one of the Climate Action Unit’s priority areas). 

Currently I’m writing up the findings from a two-day workshop the team has just run for the National Trust in Northern Ireland as they implement new decision-making processes for adapting to climate change. 

In the next few months I’ll be involved in a project helping an engineering company to pivot its transport division to a low-carbon working model, another project with a consultancy to set up a programme of coaching for their executive board, and visiting Chatham House to run some policy simulations with them as part of the Climate Action Unit’s Policy Pathways tool.

Finally, tell us about your non-work life. Do you have any hobbies, or favourite places to go in London? 

My favourite place to go in London is probably the reservoir in Green Lanes, north London. It is the best spot to be at on a sunny day, for an open water swim within 10 mins walk of a tube station. 

In the winter months when it’s a bit colder I’m more likely to be found at London Fields Lido for a heated swim. 

When I’m not at work I like to be outside, doing something physical – whether that’s bouldering, cycling, swimming, running, surfing or paddleboarding – I’m not too fussed. 

I also spend a lot of time walking my family’s cocker spaniel – ideally via nice cafés or pubs if the dog is willing to sit still for five minutes (I live in hope…)