UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy

Washbourne 2016

Dr Carla-Leanne Washbourne

Lecturer in Environmental Science and Policy
+44 (0)20 3108 9428

Research Summary

Carla is an interdisciplinary researcher and practitioner working at the interface of science and public policy. Her work seeks to understand how decision-making and planning in urban settings is influenced by prevailing knowledge systems, centred on urban environment and sustainability topics.

Carla is member of the UCL City Leadership Laboratory and a Co-Director (Green Infrastructure) of the UCL Engineering Exchange, which works to proactively match local community needs with UCL research expertise. She is a Research Associate at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO), Johannesburg.

A collaboration with GCRO, the University of Melbourne and UN-Habitat is developing theoretical and practical understanding of the role of urban observatories as a component of urban knowledge systems and their contribution to local and global decision-making. Other current projects include an investigation of the knowledge and skills landscape in the design, development and management of urban green spaces and mechanisms for improving planning and policy implementation. Carla is working with stakeholders across a variety of technical and decision-making contexts to understand how different approaches in engagement with and communication of knowledge can optimise its appropriate use.

Carla has an interest in science communication and science advice as a practice in policy settings, particularly in the legislative context, developed through work within the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) and the (UK) Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).


Carla graduated from Durham University with a BSc (hons) in Natural Sciences (Earth Sciences and Archaeology) and Newcastle University with an MSc in Engineering Geology (2009) and a PhD in Geosciences (2014). Her PhD research investigated the potential for engineering soils to act as carbon sinks, promoting carbon capture and storage. This work, and involvement as a researcher on two EPSRC Impact Award grants designed to engage stakeholder groups, developed her knowledge and interest in environmental policy and its application to the earth sciences.

She has previously worked in the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology as a Physical Sciences, IT and Communications Adviser and undertaken policy internships within the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) (January - March 2013) and environmental regeneration charity Groundwork North East (July - August 2010) where she investigated the potential for temporary use of vacant urban land, engaging with stakeholders in industry, local government and the third sector, producing strategy and toolkit documents.

Carla is driven by a desire to encourage engagement between researchers and a range of interest groups, and is very interested in public perceptions of science. She has worked on a broad range of science communication projects, including hosting and delivering public lectures, hosting student placements at Newcastle University via the Nuffield Bursaries scheme, acting as the founding co-editor of Newcastle University’s student-led science magazine {react} assisting in cross-disciplinary exhibitions at cultural venues and developing a particular passion for research-based stand-up comedy, performing throughout the UK and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013 and 2014.

Teaching Summary

Carla completed her Professional Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher and Professional Education (2015, UCL) and has a passion for developing high-quality, engaging educational experiences. As well as contributing to the general development of STEaPP’s education programme, and occasional professional teaching roles, specific responsibilities include:

  • Module lead: Communicating Science for Policy (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Module co-lead: Integrated Analysis of Socio-Technical Systems (2015, 2016)
  • Cohort co-lead for How to Change the World (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018). Cohort mentor (2017)


Dr Carla Washbourne