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Small Grants for Academic Year 2012/13

The Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities Small Grants Scheme has awarded five awards for the academic Year 2012—2013. The scheme awards up to £5,000 per project, funding projects that lead to, or support, cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Proposed projects must be innovative and aimed at achieving research impact (through scholarly output, public engagement, influence on policy and practice, enterprise activity and/or translational research). Collaboration must be between staff based in different UCL departments, and can involve external partners.

Details of the awards made in 2012/13 Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities Small Grants Scheme are shown below:

The suburban food basket: the role of spatial setting and social context in providing access to healthy food


  • Dr Shaun Scholes (Health and Social Surveys Group, UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health)

Main collaborator:

  • Professor Laura Vaughan (Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)

Additional collaborators:

  • Dr Jennifer Mindell (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health)
  • Dr Angela Donkin (UCL Institute of Health Equity)

Food-related ill-health in the UK is responsible for about 10% of deaths and illnesses and costs the NHS an estimated £6 billion annually. Money, transport, the availability of healthy food, cooking facilities and knowledge and skills all affect people’s ability to eat a healthy, balanced diet.

This study aims to involve secondary school pupils in understanding and evaluating the issues which influence our diet, and define a ‘healthy food basket’ which is appropriate for different social and cultural groups. The project will also survey students to identify how often healthy food items are bought and how easy it is to buy healthy food in their local communities.

A paper describing the pilot study, the main findings, and methodological lessons learned will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. The project team will also present the findings at a year 10/11 (GCSE cohort) assembly (or support pupils in doing so) to inform students of academic research as a potential career option.

You can find out more by visiting:

Blackouts prevention and solutions through multi-disciplinary techniques (B-PAS)


  • Dr. Catalina Spataru  (UCL Energy Institute)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr. Hervé Borrion  (Department of Security and Crime Science)

Additional collaborators:

  • Dr. Ivan Wall (Department of Biochemical Engineering)
  • Prof. Perry Elliott, (Young Institute of Cardiovascular Science)
  • Dr. Pier Lambiase (Cardiology Department Heart Hospital)

This project aims to develop new techniques for managing the risk of power blackouts in emerging energy grids. Healthcare, security and financial systems across the world depend on reliable power supplies, which are vulnerable to disturbance from natural hazards and technological failure.

This project aims to understand how complex systems react to disturbances, to support improved forecasting and contingency planning by drawing on power engineering, energy, mathematics, medicine, operational research and security, to develop new approaches to modelling power blackouts.

Two workshops with experts from a range of different disciplines will enable us to understand why systems fail and what we can learn from different systems. Collaborators will co-author a research paper aimed at wider academic dissemination.

Assessment of alternative transport models for Havana


  • Dr Emily Morris   (Institute of the Americas)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr Julio Davila   (Development Planning Unit)

Additional collaborators:

  • Prof. Nick Tyler (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
  • Dr Juan Llanes Guerra (Centro de Estudios del Medio Ambiente (CEMA), University of Havana)
  • Antonio Villasol (Ministerio del Transporte)

The aim of the project is to design and assess alternative transport strategies for Havana. The project will consider the most efficient modes of transport for people and goods, and the role of transport in promoting public health, reducing CO2 emissions, reducing import dependency and creating a safer and more liveable city.

The project will highlight Havana’s need for a climate-friendly transport strategy by strengthening collaboration between UCL-based researchers with the aim of influencing changes in urban transport policy in Havana. The participation of a researcher from Havana University’s Centro de Estudios del Medio Ambiente (Centre for Environmental Studies) and confirmed interest of the Cuban Ministry of Transport means not only that UCL research collaborators will have unique access to the information on Havana’s transport challenge, objectives and constraints required to refine the research question, but also that the work can feed directly into policy-making in Cuba.

Cities for Human Locomotion


  • Dr Stephen Marshall (Bartlett School of Planning)

Main collaborator:

  • Prof Nick Tyler (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

Additional collaborators:

  • Dr Catherine Holloway (Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering)
  • Prof Michael Batty (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis)
  • Dr James Cheshire (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis)

The ‘City for Human Locomotion’ is the vision of an urban environment designed to expedite travel on foot, by bicycle, wheelchair and other human-powered modes (rollerblades, skateboards, scooters, etc.).

Currently there is a vicious circle whereby the lack of knowledge about the full potential for human-powered modes leads to a lack of provision; this discourages use of these modes; and their invisibility hinders the political will to cater for their use. This situation could be turned around, if we could assemble and integrate more knowledge on all these fronts.

The primary aim is to assemble baseline knowledge about the different human-powered modes, especially those about which less is known (e.g. wheelchair use, rollerblades, skateboards, etc.), their potential conflicts and synergies, and their potential roles in a sustainable ‘city for human locomotion’; hence to gauge the potential for where future research would best be directed.

 Bartlett news story about Cities for Human Locomotion

Behaviour change: reducing waste


  • Prof. Susan Michie (Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology)

Main collaborator:

  • Richard Jackson (UCL Estates)

Additional collaborators:

  • Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
  • UCL Human Resources
  • UCL Union

Our study will bring together environmental expertise and behavioural science to investigate how people can be encouraged to reduce the amount of waste they produce, choose reusable rather than disposable products, and recycle their rubbish.

The study will investigate current waste trends and a survey to understand the factors that affect our likelihood to recycle or throw away our rubbish. This will be the basis of co-designing a prototype intervention with a building users group established for this purpose. This study will produce a prototype intervention, outcome measures and a building users group that is planned to lead to a subsequent pilot of implementing the intervention and evaluating its impact in a controlled trial to pilot the methods and feasibility of a controlled trial and methods for measuring the impact of the intervention.

The Small Grants Scheme includes all four Grand Challenges: Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

Page last modified on 03 jul 13 16:22