Katherine Ascott

University of Warwick


Impact and use of geo-resources underneath cities for resilient urban design.


Jon Coaffee (Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick)

Deodato Tapete (Urban Geoscience Team, British Geological Survey)

Stephen Jarvis (Computer Science, University of Warwick)

Stephanie Bricker (Urban Geoscience Team, British Geological Survey)

PhD Summary

Sub-surface resources are becoming increasingly relied upon to meet the demands of our growing cities. However, not all sub-surface resources are renewable and they are frequently interdependent with other city systems. How can urban design (meant as the form of the city) help cities to make best use of geo-resources? This PhD will answer this research question by developing a new ‘geoscientific-thinking’ model of urban design, to assess quantitatively how present and future cities can utilise natural resources to become more sustainable and withstand environmental pressures associated with urban growth and densification.

What inspires you

From small beginnings, collecting pebbles from beaches on family holidays as a child, my fascination with the natural world grew up with me and has taken me on to a research career into understanding how the natural resources of our world can be used for a sustainable future.

Previous activity

For the past two years I have been working in industry as a geologist for a land development consultancy firm, where my role was to assess the environmental and geotechnical characteristics of a site for a proposed development. This included conducting desk top studies and intrusive site investigations on a range of greenfield and brownfield sites across the UK.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

In industry I have encountered a diverse range of site development proposals, which in some cases moderately integrate the use of geo-resources, or tackle geo-hazards to achieve a forward-thinking urban design. However, this is not always the case, and it is becoming increasingly evident that in order to effectively tackle this issue a new method of analysing urban design from a geo-resources perspective is required. Through doctoral research there is an opportunity to develop a model that would ultimately lead to more sustainable and resilient urban design in the context of future cities initiatives.

Why did you choose CENTA?

I applied for this CENTA studentship because the project captivated my interest the moment I read the proposal. In addition to researching a topic I am passionate about, CENTA provides an opportunity to gain diverse training and research skills as well as network with researchers from a range of backgrounds with mixed experiences.

Future plans

Studying here will diversify my career prospects by refining my expertise of a relevant topic whilst broadening my range of transferable skills. I plan to utilise these skills in the future either in industry or if the opportunity arises, into post-doctoral research.