UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


STEaPP Spotlight on... Associate Professor Ellie Cosgrave

24 June 2020

Ellie Cosgrave

How long have you been at STEaPP? What does your role involve?

I’ve been at STEaPP since the beginning, so nearly seven years. I joined as a postdoctoral researcher on the Liveable Cities research programme where we looked at transforming the engineering of cities to create liveable communities. When we think about engineering’s role in creating sustainable places with high wellbeing, we often focus on the places themselves and the infrastructure rather than how the engineering worldview needs to be transformed. These key themes have fed into my current role as Associate Professor in Urban Innovation and Policy where I explore radical approaches to engineering design through my work on gender and choregraphing the city.

Day to day, I am heavily involved in teaching in the Urban Innovation and Policy MPA where we explore the different factors of policy making and innovation that go into creating the cities that we live in today. As Director of the Urban Innovation and Policy Lab I convene work in STEaPP and across the wider university around key issues of urbanisation.

What drew you to STEaPP and UCL?

STEaPP’s applied approach to research is incredibly important, as is being part of a community that sees working in practice as an essential part of their research.

How does your research feed into your teaching (and vice versa)?

For me teaching and research are really interwoven. Class is as an opportunity to collectively explore some of the topics I’m grappling with in my work and debate the key issues.

Through the Group and Individual Projects we’re able to do extended pieces of work with great policy stakeholders who we may not have had the chance to otherwise work with. It’s a great opportunity to expand your networks. We’ve worked with the Greater London Authority, the World Cities Culture Forum, UN Habitat, and companies such as ARUP, to explore issues that are important to those stakeholders and that feed into my own work.

What inspires you?

The thing that inspires me the most is brilliant people. I really enjoy working with, and learning from, people who have a drive and a strong sense of what they want to achieve in the world. You can learn, work together and create amazing things.

Who influenced you?

I’m easily influenced so pretty much everyone I meet I am affected by! Over the past five years or so I’ve been really inspired by feminist scholars and have devoured anything I see. Especially Audre Lorde.

If you could give one piece of advice to your teenage self, what would it be?

You’re fine. Calm down.

What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?

  1. Be aware of the urges and forces that inspire you and follow those.
  2. Hone your reflective practice. Take time in the week or in the day to reflect on how things went, your behaviour, other people’s behaviours, how well things worked and what you would like to do differently.
  3. Enjoy yourself.

What three words would you use to describe STEaPP?

Applied. Energetic. Boundary-pushing.