People 2021-05-04T19:14:55+00:00

Meet Our Team

Our Management Team

Martin Mayfield, Director
Martin Mayfield, DirectorProfessor of Engineering Design
Martin leads the Urban Flows’ work on energy, air quality and the modelling of urban processes as complex systems. He is currently leading the Observatory work on developing our digital models, data capture and the exploration of methods to identify features of the built environment. His current work includes the exploration of the relationships between decarbonisation, power grid characteristics and thermal energy demand across scales in order to establish how cities can efficiently decarbonise their energy systems. His objective for the Observatory is to understand the flow of energy, resources and materials across scales and systems in order to help cities reduce their total impact upon the planet.
Daniel Coca, Director
Daniel Coca, DirectorProfessor of Nonlinear and Complex Systems
Viewing modern cities as systems-of-systems, Daniel is interested in developing a framework for integrating, analysing and modelling in real-time the data generated by large heterogeneous arrays of sensors across multiple spatial and temporal scales, to help understand the emergent properties of cities, to characterise their performance – especially city resilience and robustness – and to provide a quantitative basis for designing urban policies and forecasting their impact through exploratory simulation analyses and optimization.
Danielle Densley Tingley, Director
Danielle Densley Tingley, DirectorLecturer in Architectural Engineering
Danielle leads Urbans Flows’ work on resources, with a particular interest in construction materials. She is using Urban Flows’ remote sensing equipment, including LiDAR, visual and thermal imaging to understand our built environment better and in particular to answer the question: what is Sheffield made of? More broadly, Danielle is interested in reducing the whole life carbon of the built environment by optimising the use of materials, across scales from building design through to systems of materials in cities and countries.
Steve Jubb
Steve JubbChief Technical Officer
Steve is responsible for the delivery and operation of the sensing and data collection systems that are the basis of the observatory. With a background in the Telecommunications industry and having studied environmental and energy engineering, Steve has a broad interest in the way infrastructures form and support cities and urban living. In particular, he intends to gain a detailed understanding of how wireless networks, that are becoming increasingly important to support urban systems, are affected by the structural environment.

Our Research Team

Hadi Arbabi
Hadi ArbabiLecturer
Hadi’s work and research interests sit at the interface of data-driven urban engineering and planning. Hadi’s overall body of research focuses on the challenges relating to resource consumption and productivity in urban systems often in the context of planetary resource capacity and climate change. Their previous research focused on providing new insights on the effects of spatial scale on urban economic performance balance and the extent to which it is influenced by mobility infrastructure across spatial scales. Hadi’s broader research activity and interests include but are not limited to network analysis of intra- and inter-city urban flows, infrastructure and planning, and city morphology, stocks, and metabolism. Hadi has a keen interest in policy impact of these urban challenges and takes a spatially multi-scale approach to studying them.
Buick Davison
Buick DavisonProfessor of Structural Engineering
Buick is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He joined the academic staff in 1993 after a number of years in practice as a Structural Engineer where he gained first-hand experience in the design and construction of numerous projects including sports stadia, factories and multi-storey buildings. Buick’s research interests lie in the behaviour of steel-framed structures, in particular the influence of joints connecting steel frames together influence the overall behaviour of the structure. He also focusses on sustainability issues in structural engineering by investigating the environmental burden of construction practices.
Dr. Abigail Hathway
Dr. Abigail HathwaySenior Lecturer - Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Abigail’s research aims to ensure that in the drive for energy efficient buildings we maintain healthy indoor environments for the occupants. Her interest in the role of human activity on indoor air has developed to consider a variety of built environments. Her main interest is in the interactions of people with their building and the resulting impacts on air flow across the building envelope and between interior spaces. This includes researching the role of automated building systems to improve the comfort and quality of internal environments at low energy cost.
Virginia Stovin
Virginia StovinProfessor of Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management
Virginia’s research focuses on Urban Stormwater Management and Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS); how we can develop engineered drainage systems using natural components such as soil and plants to manage storm flows generated by urban constructs such as buildings, pavements and car parks. Virginia looks at the technical performance of vegetated SuDS (particularly green roofs and ponds) and Green Infrastructure, aiming to understand the processes that control the quantity and quality of urban runoff in order to develop fit-for-purpose models of those processes and generate novel strategies to enable storm water to be managed more effectively and sustainably.
Dr Giuliano Punzo
Dr Giuliano PunzoLecturer, Transport Lead
Giuliano’s background is in the broad area of control theory and complex systems. After a degree in aerospace engineering, he briefly joined industry, before completing a PhD in swarm engineering in 2013. His interests include networks and graph theory, robotics, control theory, consensus and complexity. Giuliano’s post-doctoral appointments include teaching and research at the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde and Sheffield. Within the Urban Flows Observatory, Giuliano is leading on the transportation theme, investigating the role of urban infrastructure to enhance mobility, their resilience in the face of increasing demand pressures and ageing, and how communities, cities and regions are shaped by access to and type of transport available. This research looks at both the developed and the developing world.
Lu Zhuo
Lu ZhuoLecturer
Lu’s research focusses on multi-hazard disaster risk management and system modelling. This incorporates multi-disciplinary knowledge into a dynamic and unified modelling framework to increase the resilience of cities against extreme hydrometeorological events (such as floods and landslides) caused by changing climates. Lu aims to numerically model the impact of these hazards on infrastructure networks, on people and on possible rescue and mitigation efforts. She helped with the development of HazardCM, which is a unique software that assesses and numerically models cities and their resilience to natural hazards such as flooding.
Oktay Cetinkaya
Oktay CetinkayaResearch Associate
Oktay’s research interests include energy harvesting-aided wireless-powered communications for the Internet of Things.
Richard Johnson
Richard JohnsonResearch Associate
Richard has a PhD in energy storage in urban systems. He is interested in the effects of energy storage location and operation mode(s) on its sizing and on the benefits it is able to provide to the distribution system. He is currently working as a Research Associate on the Active Building Centre.
Dr Maud Lanau
Dr Maud LanauResearch Associate
Maud’s research has previously focused on weighing the importance of urban built environment stocks for sustainability, using the Danish city of Odense as a case study. As an industrial ecologist, Maud uses the systems perspective to investigate how to reduce the environmental impacts of cities and their built environment. Her interests include socio-economic metabolism (including urban metabolism), material flow analysis and material stock analysis.


Xinyi Li
Xinyi LiResearch Associate
Xinyi is a research associate in digital urban characterisation. Her work focuses on maintaining a sustainable built environment via improving building performance and reducing building whole life carbon emissions. Her research interests include: whole life carbon assessment, building stock modelling, building energy simulation and machine learning.
Ling Min Tan
Ling Min TanResearch Associate
Ling Min’s work focuses on understanding and formulation of the effects of city economic and energetic characteristics on their resource consumption. Her research interests include industrial ecology related areas such as urban metabolism, circular economy, ecological network analysis, and designs for sustainable urban systems through optimising the patterns of resource consumption and improved resource efficiency.


Wil Ward
Wil WardResearch Associate
Wil is working on developing machine learning workflows for the efficient retrofit of residential buildings to increase energy efficiency. Previously, he worked in Physics, Statistics and Computer Science departments, researching physically-informed probabilistic machine learning techniques, in particular Gaussian processes, for solutions to non-linear dynamical problems. He is also the founder and former network coordinator of the Sheffield Machine Learning Research Network, involved in promoting community for researchers using machine learning in the University of Sheffield. The role involved organising events, tutorials and promoting machine learning in the university.


Rohit Chakraborty
Rohit ChakrabortyPhD Candidate
Rohit’s PhD project is titled as “Low Cost Internet of Things based Sensor Networks for Air Quality” under the supervision of Professor Martin Mayfield. This project is funded by Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. As a Grantham Scholar researching on climate change, Rohit’s main aim is to develop models and techniques that will afford significantly improved monitoring and communication of the pollution level in cities without the need to significantly invest in monitoring equipment.
Menglin Dai
Menglin DaiPhD Candidate
Menglin’s research involves proposing an integrated data capture approach for the detection of insulation absence, defective installation, thermal leakage, and presence of moisture that can be deployed across cities, which utilises machine learning to automate identification in big datasets.


Charles Gillott
Charles GillottPhD Candidate
Charles’ PhD attempts to develop a framework of assessment for use in the determination of the reserve structural capacity of existing buildings. This will be extended to include additional factors influential upon the extension-potential of common buildings; forming a typology-based framework used to assess the impacts of hypothetical vertical extension schemes at various urban scales. Charles’ wider research interests are centred on the circularity of the built environment and ensuring sustainable development through whole-building adaptation and re-use.


Qianqian Li
Qianqian LiPhD Candidate
Qianqian’s interest is in complex networks and their application to infrastructure systems. Her PhD focuses on analysing the resilience of critical infrastructure system under extreme climate change.


William Mihkelson
William MihkelsonPhD Candidate
Will’s research project focuses on quantifying construction materials required for housing and key infrastructure and relating this to development levels to understand how the relationships between them vary across different geographic locations and scales. Next steps of his research will then explore how the use of alternative resources could reduce the carbon footprint of human development. The work will bring about novel insights in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through a new hybrid method. Will’s wider interest concerns the transition from a linear to a circular economy, exploring solutions to achieve sustainable cities and communities through the design of buildings and infrastructure.


Dr. Said Munir
Dr. Said MunirPhD Candidate
Said has several years’ experience in air quality monitoring, data analysis and modelling both in the UK and abroad. For the Urban Flows Observatory in Sheffield, Said is working on the design and deployment of air quality sensors network (AQSN). The aim is to set up a dense air quality monitoring network made of several layers: A layer of highly accurate reference AQ sensors, a second layer of high quality AQ sensors, and a third layer of low-cost IOT (internet of things) sensors. Furthermore, an instrumented van will be used to monitor air quality on various roads, between and next to sensors, to provide better spatial coverage and a source of data for sensor calibration. Said will analyse the data, develop high resolution maps and a land-use regression model to determine the main drivers of air quality in Sheffield.
Alexander Roocroft
Alexander RoocroftPhD Candidate
Alex’s PhD project is titled “Pro-active Traffic Management though short-term, long-range state estimation”. His focus is to use a Graph and Game theory approach to modelling traffic flows using the MIDAS data collection system of the UK strategic road network, aiming to lead towards improving intelligent transport infrastructure that can meet the new challenges of smart cities and Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV). His PhD is part of the A*STAR scholarship program. Within this programme, the second and third years of the PhD will be spent in Singapore working alongside the A*STAR IHPC research team.


Yulan Sheng
Yulan ShengPhD Candidate
Yulan’s research focuses on automatic characterising housing energy performance for further retrofits purpose.


Our Experts

Dr. Mauricio A. Álvarez
Dr. Mauricio A. ÁlvarezLecturer in Machine Learning
Mauricio is a Lecturer in Machine Learning in Computer Science at the University of Sheffield. Mauricio is interested in machine learning in general, its interplay with mathematics and statistics and its applications. In particular, his research interests include probabilistic models, kernel methods, and stochastic processes. He works on the development of new probabilistic models and their application in different engineering and scientific areas that include Neuroscience, Neural Engineering, Systems Biology, and Humanoid Robotics. His work on the Urban Flows Observatory is broadly related to the use of data analytics for learning models of environmental variables that can be used for exploratory and predictive tasks. More recently, he and his team have been using spatial statistics to analyse datasets of air pollution.
Dr. Paul Brindley
Dr. Paul BrindleyLecturer in Landscape Planning, Department of Landscape
Paul is a landscape planner with an interest in applying geocomputational analysis to explore spatial and statistical relationships relating to the provision and equality of urban greenspace. He has over fifteen years expertise of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and uses his extensive experience of computer programming to automate operations in order to implement them at scale. He is currently involved in the NERC funded project – Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature (IWUN – http://iwun.uk) where he is applying statistical and spatial analysis to explore the health and wellbeing benefits associated with urban greenspace.
Dr. Alastair Buckley
Dr. Alastair BuckleySenior Lecturer in Organic Electronics
Alastair leads the Sheffield Solar research group. As part of the Urban Flows Observatory, his team provide services relating to solar photovoltaic power flows within the GB electricity networks. These include national and regional real-time and historic out-turns and 7 day-ahead forecasting. Alastair has a background in technology development in industry and academia, and is Senior Lecturer in the Physics Department at The University of Sheffield.
Professor Fabio Ciravegna
Professor Fabio CiravegnaProfessor in the Department of Computer Science; Head of OAK Group
Fabio is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield and Head of OAK Group. His research concerns large-scale data acquisition and management. Since 2005, he has been the director of three EC funded projects totalling over €20M and involving 45 partners from academia and industry, and Principal Investigator (PI) in many other projects (4 European, 3 EPSRC, four industrial/governmental and four Innovate UK). Fabio is the designer and lead engineer of a technology for tracking health and wellbeing via mobile phone that has been adopted by Public Health England (with over ½ million downloads to date). He has a patent on terminology recognition in the aerospace domain that has led to the creation of a tool in use to over 10,000 employees at Rolls-Royce Plc. He is also co-creator of two spin-out companies, K-now Technologies Ltd, and the Floow Ltd on large scale data analysis and management (currently one of the 10 fastest growing companies in the UK).
Professor John Clark
Professor John ClarkProfessor of Computer and Information Security
John has researched predominantly in the application of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and search/optimisation approaches to solving problems in the field of highly dependable systems, with particular emphasis on software, security and safety. The Urban Flows Observatory offers challenges in several of his interests in dependability, e.g. the security of Internet of Things technology, data analytics, and opportunities to apply optimisation approaches in systems development.
Professor Hamish Cunningham
Professor Hamish CunninghamResearch Professor in Computer Science
Hamish is a Research Professor in Computer Science at the University of Sheffield. He has been a software engineer, researcher, open source developer and Principal Investigator on some 25 research grants, and in 2014 he ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to produce the MoPi mobile power board for the Raspberry Pi. He has published widely, sits on a number of editorial boards and reviews project proposals for the EC, EPSRC, BBSRC, ESRC, NWO and others. His team produces the GATE open source platform for language and knowledge research, which is used by organisations as diverse as the BBC, WHO cancer research and the Financial Times, and which has attracted around €20 million euros of direct research funding. Cunningham is currently researching open IoT devices for domestic aquaponics, and is a management committee member of the COST network EU Aquaponics Hub and the owner of a small greenhouse full of fish.
Dr. Iñaki Esnaola
Dr. Iñaki EsnaolaSenior Lecturer; Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering
Iñaki received an M.S degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Navarra, Spain, in 2006, and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 2011. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering of the University of Sheffield, and a Visiting Research Collaborator in the Department of Electrical Engineering of Princeton University. He has previously been a Research Intern with Bell Laboratories, Alcatel-Lucent, New Jersey, and a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University. His research interests include information theory and communication theory with an emphasis on the application to smart grid problems.
Dr. Thomas Hain
Dr. Thomas HainProfessor of Speech and Audio Technology; Head of Speech and Hearing Research
Thomas has a research track record of more than 20 years in machine learning and artificial intelligence related to modelling of signals. He has a background in electrical engineering and among his interests are representations for processing multi-modality, as obtained from rich sensory networks. With respect to the Urban Flows Observatory, a particular interest is research into construction of dynamic modelling frameworks that can adjust computation (e.g. prediction) and data agglomeration dynamically according to network structure and capacity.
Professor Beverley Inkson
Professor Beverley InksonProfessor of Nanomaterials
Beverley leads the Sheffield NanoLAB in Materials Science and Engineering. She uses state-of-the-art Microscopy to determine the structure, chemistry and functionality of materials down to a nanometre scale (0.000,000,001m!). She is developing these cutting-edge technologies to optimise analysis of the PM10, PM2.5 and PM1.0 particulates in Sheffield Air. Building on joint work with the City Council over the last three years, the new Urban Flows Sensor Technology will be an important step forward in this work, and will enable quantification of AIR quality right across the city. We will be benchmarking the Sensor Network measurements with PM Characterisation, to develop effective measurement and modelling protocols, a database of Sheffield air composition, and supply evidence for Air Quality Management strategy.
Professor Anna Jorgensen
Professor Anna JorgensenChair in Urban Natural Environments, Health and Wellbeing
Anna’s research focuses on the health benefits of urban natural environments. She is interested in the ways that engaging with parks and green spaces can make a real difference to our physical and mental health and help to reduce health inequalities. She leads the IWUN project- Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature- which works to maximise the health impacts of networks of urban green space – green infrastructure – through landscape planning, design and management.
Alberto Manni
Alberto ManniVisualisation Infrastructure Design and Management.
Alberto is ACSE’s technical manager, working on the design and maintenance of the department’s infrastructure. He’s collaborating with the Urban Flows Observatory through the specification, procurement, installation and running of the visualisation infrastructure, including the refurbishment of the control room (Sir Henry Stephenson Building – Room 211) and the Video Wall array of HD screens, the Observatory’s main visualisation device.
Professor Lyudmila Mihaylova
Professor Lyudmila MihaylovaChair of Signal Processing and Control with the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering (ACSE)
Lyudmila is an expert in the areas of multi-sensor data fusion and processing. She and her team are working to develop novel methods for autonomous intelligent systems: for sensing, tracking, anomaly detection and decision making with applications such as transportation, manufacturing, navigation and surveillance systems.
Professor Timothy O’Farrell
Professor Timothy O’FarrellChair in Wireless Communications
Tim has a research track record of over 20 years in wireless communications systems. The focus of his research is on physical layer signal processing, radio resource management and wireless network planning for 5G and IoT. He has pioneered research on energy efficient mobile cellular communications, the mathematical modelling of medium access control protocols for WiFi, iterative block coding for wireless transmission and spreading sequence design for spread spectrum communications systems. In respect of the Urban Flow Observatory, Tim is interested in the deployment of ultra-dense wireless (sensor) networks with low energy consumption and high spectral efficiency.
Dr. Patricio F Ortiz
Dr. Patricio F OrtizResearch Software Engineer
Patricio is currently a Research Software Engineer at the Automatic Control and Systems Engineering Department at the University of Sheffield. His interests within the Urban Flows Observatory project are the interdisciplinary usage of air quality data, particularly applied to human health issues, data quality control, data visualisation, databases and semantics used to characterise the data. Patricio, a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Toronto, worked on various astronomy projects including the International Virtual Observatory and ESA’s Gaia as well as on Earth Observation projects using satellite data (Globtemp). He is also the author of “First Steps in Scientific Programming”.
Professor Colin Osborne
Professor Colin OsborneProfessor of Plant Biology; Associate Director, Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures
Colin leads work on trees within the Urban Flows Observatory. He is a plant biologist with interests in how ecosystems regulate the flows of carbon, water and energy between the atmosphere and the land. His role within the observatory is to coordinate research on the benefits provided by city trees, woodlands and other green spaces for carbon sequestration, the mitigation of flood risk and air pollution, the wellbeing of people, and other ecosystem goods and services. Colin works on these issues with colleagues from the Departments of Animal and Plant Sciences and Landscape.
Professor Darren Robinson
Professor Darren RobinsonDirector of Research: School of Architecture; Chair in Architectural and Urban Sciences
Darren is passionate about research conducted at the interface between social physics (people), building physics (buildings) and urban physics (networks, city); and at multiple scales: from the performance of individual buildings in their urban context and the how this is influenced by occupants; through the performance of entire complex urban systems and how their interactions and spatial and functional structures can be improved to maximise metabolic efficiency; to the modelling of national stocks of buildings and how they can be decarbonised. His focus in the observatory is on validation of urban irradiation models for energy simulation.
Dr. Ramsay Taylor
Dr. Ramsay TaylorUniversity Teacher
Dr Ramsay Taylor is a University Teacher in Multidisciplinary Engineering Education. Having studied Computer Science at the University of Kent, he was then employed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) in the Safety Critical Systems team. His interests are in computer systems that are embedded in other engineering. At DSTL this was mainly aircraft, but the Diamond Smart Building project has brought his focus on to buildings and urban environments. He is particularly interested in the infrastructure that supports capturing and processing the data from these systems — both the networking and sensors themselves, and the database systems that retain and present the data to allow useful research.
Professor Philip Warren
Professor Philip WarrenProfessor of Ecology, Animal and Plant Sciences
Philip Warren is an ecologist with interests in biodiversity and ecological processes, particularly at the community and landscape scale. Much of his work has been involved with understanding the ecology of urban systems, including work on the role of domestic gardens for biodiversity, the management of urban rivers and the relationship between the form of the urban environment and the ecosystem services (benefits to people) it delivers. His interest in the Urban Flows Observatory is particularly focused on how better monitoring of urban systems can inform our understanding of how the built urban environment interacts with the ‘green space’, which constitutes a significant fraction of urban areas, and how this knowledge might allow us to design more biodiverse, sustainable and healthier cities.
Thomas Wilkes
Thomas WilkesPostgraduate Researcher
Tom’s background is primarily in Earth Sciences. In 2014 he received an MSci degree in Environmental Geoscience from the University of Bristol in 2014. In 2015 he embarked on a PhD in Volcanology at the University of Sheffield. This research involves the development of low-cost remote sensing equipment for monitoring volcanoes. As part of this project, Tom has built a UV camera, spectrometer and thermal imaging camera. All of these instruments provide a low-cost alternative to equipment which is already commonly deployed on volcanoes and could significantly reduce the cost of volcano research and monitoring. This interest in remote sensing has led Tom to undertake his current research as part of the Sheffield Urban Flows Observatory project.
Dr. Jon Wilmott
Dr. Jon WilmottSenior Lecturer in Sensor Systems
Jon spent over a decade designing thermal imaging cameras and other remote sensing instruments at AMETEK, Inc. before moving into Academia with an EPSRC Established Career Fellowship. His research focuses on pushing forward the boundaries of optical sensing technology. In the Observatory, this currently involves augmenting accurate temperature fields with LiDAR. His other work includes single pixel imaging with novel sensors and high speed microscopic thermal imaging for additive manufacturing. He has published papers on diverse applications from practical instrumentation for realising the benefits of the new definition of the kelvin, to measurements of the dynamics of volcano lava lakes.
Dr. Mohammad Zandi
Dr. Mohammad ZandiSenior University Teacher; Director of Learning & Teaching
Mohammed joined the University of Sheffield to carry out research for a PhD in coal combustion and its environmental impacts after completing a degree in Chemical Engineering, followed by an MSc with Distinction from the University of Bradford in Advanced Chemical Engineering. He was awarded the 2005 Foxwell Memorial Prize for his research on Leaching Behaviour of Trace Elements in UK Pulverised Coal Ash Fly. In 2008, Mohammed joined the Environment Department at Tata Steel RD&T. His research focus was alternative fuels for iron making and CO2 sequestration technologies. In January 2010 he re-joined the University of Sheffield and led the Energy Institute Yorkshire branch until 2018. In 2015, in response to the local government’s report on the fuel poverty in Sheffield, Dr Zandi funded Project ACE to increase awareness of energy efficiency and tackle fuel poverty in Sheffield.