urf cover

Undergraduate Research Fellowships

in the Department of Geography and Environment

Supported by the LSE Eden Fund and the LSE Regular Giving programme

A great opportunity to strengthen bonds with the department’s professors both on a professional and personal level.

Axel Gross, Undergraduate Research Fellow

What is the Undergraduate Research Fellowship scheme?

The Department of Geography and Environment Undergraduate Research Fellowships (URF) scheme seeks to engage students with the research of our academic staff.

Undergraduate Research Fellows gain an invaluable insight into the work of an academic in conducting and disseminating research.

What does an Undergraduate Research Fellow do?

During (up to) 70 hours of paid work, students contribute to a research project, enabling academic staff to improve their research and its impact.

We are excited to present a diverse range of fellowship opportunities, which include a variety of tasks such as conducting literature reviews, planning events and interviews, and analysing datasets.

How do I get involved?

All undergraduates receive an email in Michaelmas Term outlining the URF opportunities available that year. If you would like to apply for a project, you need to fill in a short application form, demonstrating why you are interested and well-suited for your chosen project. Students are typically notified in early Lent Term regarding the outcome of their application. 

What are the 2021/22 opportunities?

Take a look at our 2021-22 URF opportunities (pdf).

Meet our 2021/22 Undergraduate Research Fellows

Global Supply Chains and Informalisation of Agricultural Labour Markets

alexander-han

How do changes in global food production systems affect local labour markets? Burgeoning qualitative research posits that adverse incorporation in global supply chains has pauperized working conditions in Western countries pushing vulnerable agricultural workers into informality. This study wants to provide a quantitative test of this hypothesis.

Undergraduate Research Fellow

Alexander Han (pictured)
BA Geography, second year

Academic supervisor
Dr Davide Rigo

The Political Ecology of Clothing Resale Platforms in the United States

jennifer-zhan

The project analyses the lived experiences of second-hand clothing resellers in the United States. Drawing on literature in political ecology and platform/gig economies, we will study how reselling shapes and is shaped by precarity. Moreover, we are also keen to understand to what extent resellers are motivated by environmental sustainability.

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Jennifer Zhan (pictured)
BSc Environment and Development, final year

Academic supervisor
Dr Nora Sylvander

Valuing Policy Benefits of Restrictions on Use of PFAS ("forever" ) Chemicals

This project will assist with research on policy appraisal of regulations governing chemical use, specifically PFAS (so-called “forever chemicals”). These chemicals are ubiquitous in clothing, furniture and household products and provide a variety of functions such as stain/ water repellents. But increasingly policy thinking, in the EU and UK, is turning towards restrictions on use of these substances. The basis for such restrictions is persistence in the environment and toxicity/ harm (notwithstanding substantial uncertainty). There is growing policy interest in whether regulations might be targeted towards “non-essential uses” of PFAS rather than “essential uses”

Undergraduate Research Fellows
Fabienne Gaim-Marsoner 
BSc Environment and Development, final year

Charlotte Bradford
BSc Environmental Policy with Economics, final year

Academic supervisor 
Prof Giles Atkinson

Knowledge Exchange and Impact - Research on Urbanisation, Planning and Development

This project will help promote academic activities and research outputs produced by the members of the departments Urbanisation, Planning and Development research cluster. The work would involve, but not limited to, maintaining the cluster web site and social media (e.g. @LSEGeogUPD), and creatively devising initiatives to maximise the outreach of the UPD research cluster's research expertise

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Tilly Mason
BA Geography, final year

Academic supervisor
Prof Hyun Bang Shin

Transition Pathway Initiative

The Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) is a global, asset-owner led initiative which assesses companies' preparedness for the transition to a low carbon economy. Rapidly becoming the go-to corporate climate action benchmark.

Using publicly disclosed company information sourced and provided by TPI’s data partner, FTSE Russell, it:

1. Evaluates and tracks the quality of companies’ management of their greenhouse gas emissions and of risks and opportunities related to the low-carbon transition;

2. Evaluates how companies’ planned or expected future carbon performance compares to international targets and national pledges made as part of the Paris Agreement;

3. Publishes online the results of this analysis through a publicly-available tool hosted by its academic partner, the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Undergraduate Research Fellows
Richard CiLai Shen 

Academic supervisors
Prof Simon Dietz and Beata Bienkowska

Housing Policy and Affordable Housing

hannah-simpkins

This project will involve conducting a literature search covering various housing policies and their economic outcomes (i.e., policy evaluation studies) as well as studies relating to the mounting housing affordability crisis in the UK and elsewhere (i.e., the phenomenon). Apart from identifying and downloading relevant studies, the URF is expected to summarise various key studies. These summaries serve as inputs for the review article

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Hannah Simpkins (pictured)
BA Geography, second year

Academic supervisor
Prof Christian Hilber 

Lebanon Unsettled


Lebanon Unsettled will establish, through student workshops and collaborative research, a publicly accessible archive of the recent urban protests in Lebanon. It will place the 2019 uprisings in their larger historical and geographical context. Through utilizing several new and enlarged archival collections, at USEK and beyond, this project will reread Lebanese history through urban revolt from the Ottoman era to the present day. By engaging scholars at LSE and across the scholarly community, this project puts urban protest in Lebanon into dialogue with protests in the Arab region but also across the globe from Asia to Latin America

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Anna Kiszley
BSc Environmental Policy with Economics

Academic supervisor
Dr Deen Sharp

Pro-Poor’ and 'Fit-For-Purpose’ Land Administration Approaches to Land Tenure Security in the Global South

victoria-frost

In this project we will explore how two specific policy ideals of ‘Pro-Poor’ and 'Fit For-Purpose’ land administration are related to certain advances in understandings of tenure security, for instance considering concepts such as ‘continuum of property rights’; ‘legal pluralism’; ‘bundles of rights’; and ‘tripartite vision’ of property rights. We are seeking concrete support to complete a literature review, which provides a brief description of the two policy approaches. 

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Victoria Frost (pictured)
BSc Environment and Development, second year

Academic supervisors
Dr Erica Pani and Dr Martina Manara

 

Indoor Air Pollution, Real Time Information and Behavioural Change

cora-buentjen

The adverse impacts of (outdoor) air pollution have received substantial academic and policy attention over the last few decades. However, indoor air pollution is often overlooked in academic research and policy discussions. Through a partnership between Camden Council, the London School of Economics (LSE), and the University of Southern California, this study will observe the scale of indoor air pollution in homes throughout Camden (London) and examine possible strategies to reduce exposure and improve the health and wellbeing of Camden residents.

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Cora Buentjen (pictured)
BA Geography, final year

Academic supervisor
Dr Sefi Roth


 

Journal of Geography and Environment

madeleine-herring

The student Fellow(s) will work with the Chief Editor and the Houghton Street Press office to set up a new student journal.

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Madeleine Herring (pictured)
BA Geography, second year

Academic supervisor
Dr Thomas Smith

Connected Coasts: Mapping Emerging Literature on Indian Ocean Geographies

I have set up a podcast named Alainagaram (meaning ‘City of Waves’ in Tamil, an Indian Ocean language) which will be launched by end of October.

The undergraduate research fellow will be employed primarily in developing graphic material – in the form of posters or illustrative maps depending on their creative interests – for the above two projects. For example, the first series of the podcast requires an accompanying illustration that gives a quick overview of the specific coastline the series covers.

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Yin Wu
BA Geography, second year

Academic supervisor
Dr Niranjana Ramesh

 

Repair Cultures in the UK: Exploring Local and Transnational Practices of Reuse and Repair

This research looks at how reuse, repair and DIY have more recently become a significant part of environmental movements in the west, and how repair cultures seek to intervene in debates on waste reduction, climate change and the circular economy. Research will begin with a survey of electronics repairers in London, going shop to shop to collect information on their work history, training processes, and connections to other repairers.

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Thaïs Nuvoli

Academic supervisor
Dr Julia Corwin

 

Literature Review on Green Innovation and Electrification

caterina-bartelloni

This project will involve collecting and organising information available in the academic and policy literature regarding green innovation policies and green technologies in general. We are particularly interested in better understanding the timing, key actors and policies that have shaped the beginning of the move to electrification. Finally, another area focuses on the potential for technology- and sectorbased approaches to climate agreements.

Undergraduate Research Assistant
Caterina Bartelloni (pictured) 

Academic supervisor
Eugenie Dugoua 


 

Gentrification and Discrimination in London's Housing sector

 

maisie-zheng

The purpose of this project is to examine the interaction of gentrification and discrimination in London’s private rented sector. Specifically, through approximately 25 qualitative interviews we want to know the extent to which private renting sector ‘gatekeepers’ - landlords, estate agents and house-sharers - discriminate on noneconomic bases, namely race and class.

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Maisie Zheng (pictured)

Academic supervisor
Lois Liao


 

Improving the Effectiveness of Formal Land Delivery in Urban Tanzania

 

neeshaa-cheong

We are conducting research on the Twenty Thousand Plots Project of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Starting in the early 2000s, this project delivered about 40,000 planned and surveyed plots in Dar es Salaam where unplanned settlements covered 80% of the city area. We are interested in analysing outcomes of urban development and social inclusivity. What features of project design and urban planning produced better outcomes of housing and infrastructural development, land market and land prices? What is the socio-economic profile of residents in these formal areas compared to the unplanned surroundings? Results from this study can offer important contributions to urban policy in developing countries.

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Neeshaa Cheong (pictured)

Academic supervisors
Prof Vernon Henderson and Dr Martina Manara


 

Flatlining nocturnal geographies of LGBT+ East London

 

This project investigates how LGBT+ nightlife venues have shifted (in a number of ways --location, character, clientele, etc) in the wake of increasing gentrification, prevalence of queertargeted geosocial apps, and now the pandemic. The aim will be to document which venues have closed, which new ones have opened, and what other kinds of spaces or events have emerged beyond traditional 'gay bars' that serve a queer public.

Undergraduate Research Fellow
Sasha Holdway

Academic supervisor
Dr Ryan Centner 


 



Hear from past Undergraduate Research Fellows

Q&A with Axel Gross

Can you tell us about the project you worked on?

The project is entitled “the technological relationship between microtechnological firms and the extraction of resources in Central Africa”. The main objective is to establish global production networks of all the steps in the production of new technologies. From the extraction of resources (such as cobalt, tantalum etc…) in African mines, to the finished products across the world (whether it be batteries used in electric cars, apple products, Huawei phones etc). This is particularly interesting as it is a key starting point for future policies focused on African inclusive growth, as well as highlight the paradox of the “green revolution”.

How did you find your experience of working with your project supervisor, Prof Simona Iammarino?

This is a great opportunity to strengthen bonds with the department’s professors both on a professional and personal level.  I had a great time working with Professor Simona Iammarino, and even got the chance to present our co-authored paper (with Andreas Diemer) at the annual Regional Studies Association in Santiago de Compostela. This possibility, as well as the connection with Simona really enriched my first year as an undergraduate at the LSE.

What would you say to a geography student who is thinking about applying for a research fellowship?

I strongly advocate applying for a research fellowship, as you get the opportunity to work on a subject you’re interested in with academics from the department. They are amongst the best in the world in their respective fields, and you have the chance to learn from them. They are all very kind and supportive and make this experience a real pleasure. I was quite stressed about the skills required when applying, but you learn in a non-stressful and reassuring environment. In addition, you are paid for this position as a research fellow, which is always a good prospect as a university student.