School of Geography

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Emily O'Donnell

Assistant Professor in Climate Change, Science and the Environment, Faculty of Social Sciences



Emily holds an MSci in Geographical Sciences from the University of Bristol in 2006 (First Class Hons) and PhD in Geography (carbon cycling in subglacial environments) from the University of Bristol, where she received the award for Best Research Degree Thesis in the Faculty of Science in 2012/2013 and a Postgraduate Commendation for Excellence in a Doctoral Thesis. After completing her PhD, Emily lectured in Physical Geography at the University of Bristol and moved to the University of Nottingham in 2013. Emily was a postdoctoral researcher and project manager on several national and international interdisciplinary research projects, exploring the multiple flood risk benefits of Blue-Green Cities (Blue-Green Cities), transformative change in urban flood risk management (Urban Flood Resilience), and multifunctional blue-green infrastructure for climate change adaptation (Blue-Green Futures).

Expertise Summary

My research experience spans the following areas:

Urban Flood Risk Management

Blue-Green Cities

Climate Change Adaptation

Blue-Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Drainage Systems

Social Learning (e.g. Learning and Action Alliances)

Public Perceptions

Stakeholder Engagement

Teaching Summary

I teach on the degree programmes for Geography (BA/BSc) and Environmental Leadership & Management (MSc), on the following modules:

Environmental Knowledge to Action (GEOG4096, GEOG4097, GEOG 4098) (module convenor)

Planet Earth: Exploring the Environment (GEOL1002)

Research Tutorial (GEOG2030) (module convenor)

Climate Change Decision-Making in Context (GEOG4095)

Tutorial (GEOG1005)

Dissertation supervision

Research Summary

My research specialises in urban flood risk and water management, Blue-Green Cities, social learning, and stakeholder engagement. I am interested in how cities are addressing current and future urban… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

My research specialises in urban flood risk and water management, Blue-Green Cities, social learning, and stakeholder engagement. I am interested in how cities are addressing current and future urban water challenges associated with climate change, urbanisation and ageing infrastructure, and how visions may be developed for Blue-Green urban futures; where multifunctional Blue-Green infrastructure (e.g. green roofs, swales, rain gardens and ponds) is delivered by cross-organisational collaborations to generate environmental and societal co-benefits. My research uses novel toolkits to evaluate and monetise the social, environmental and economic benefits of Blue-Green infrastructure (in flood and non-flood periods) and identify the implicit and explicit perceptions of professionals and communities towards drainage infrastructure and the use of public greenspace. I work closely with UK local government and industry stakeholders to explore options for multifunctional blue-green infrastructure that can deliver benefits to the environment, society and the economy while creating environments resilience to flood risk and future climate change.

Past Research

I have been involved in several national and international research consortia exploring how urban flood and water management could be transformed to address the impacts of climate change while delivering co-benefits to the environment, economy and society. I have led the research on four interdisciplinary projects:

  • Blue-Green Cities (2013-2016, EPSRC) that developed new strategies for managing urban flood risk as part of wider, integrated urban planning intended to achieve environmental enhancement and urban renewal
  • Urban Flood Resilience (2016-2021, EPSRC) that aimed to enable the coordinated planning, design and operation of closely coupled urban water systems necessary to achieve transformative change in urban flood risk and water management
  • Blue-Green Futures (2019-2021, British Academy), a UK-USA-China-Netherlands collaboration the explored how multifunctional infrastructure could address water challenges under Blue-Green futures
  • River Leen (2019-2021), investigating how the delivery of Blue-Green infrastructure could drive economic growth and place making, funded by the University of Nottingham Interdisciplinary Research Cluster Initiative.

School of Geography

Sir Clive Granger Building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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