Staff Spotlight: Sarah Lindley
In our latest Staff Spotlight for the Aug-Sept newsletter, we ask Sarah Lindley about her research, career highlights and more.
What is your career highlight so far?
My career highlight has to be becoming a Professor of Geography last year. It was also a great honour to be one of only two UK-based contributors to the IPBES African regional assessment. I was part of a group of more than 100 scholars and practitioners tasked with assessing knowledge on biodiversity and ‘nature’s contributions to people’ across the whole of the African continent. Each member brought a different perspective – geographically, thematically and in terms of disciplinary specialism. The work was challenging, enjoyable and inspiring in equal measure.
Tell us about your current research and what you see as your key academic challenges over the next five years.
I’ve got a few urban environmental research projects at the moment. The two that I’m most involved with right now are: GHIA about urban green infrastructure and its value for older people; and UDARA which is about urban air pollution exposure and heath in Indonesia. Although they seem very different, they are both about human-environment interactions and each has a core spatial focus. I confess to being a map-loving geographer – there are always plenty of maps in my research work! Indeed, mapping is also key to my other work too, such as the climatejust.org.uk resource. In the next 5 years I’ll be working hard with the research teams on all of my current projects – each project has ambitious goals, but also a fantastic and extremely committed team of co-investigators and researchers.
What is the dream scenario for you in terms of the impact of your work?
Even influencing one decision to prevent the loss of an area of urban greenspace would be fantastic. My research agenda has always put me at the science-policy-practice interface and my aspiration has always been for my projects to have a positive impact on both environment and society. My dream scenario would be to have the time to do all of the extra leg work that I know is needed in order to make things happen in the real world.
What do you see as the benefits to working in a broad research institute like MUI?
I’m no stranger to working across disciplines – it’s been a hallmark of my research since I joined the university as a Postdoc back in 1999. However, it’s great that the University is now setting up structures to facilitate cross-disciplinary endeavour. Working with MUI, and also MERI and MICRA too, helps to make connections which just wouldn’t otherwise occur. It’s also useful to have a ‘window’ on research activities which can help to reach a wider audience, including policy-makers and practitioners.
If you could take one book to a desert island what would it be?
When I was growing up, I loved reading my Dad’s Pears' Cyclopaedia. I’ve just discovered that the last very last volume was the 2017-18 edition so I’d better take that.