A LoLo student’s summer

A LoLo student’s summer
14th October 2016 Nafsika Christa Drosou

October is the start of the academic year for busy LoLo MRes and PhD students, but what are their summers like? Nafsika Drosou from Loughborough University wanted to make the most of her last summer as a PhD student and have fun while doing so. Her goal was two-fold. Firstly, she aimed to disseminate information about her mixed method PhD project by presenting her work in two prestigious international conferences – each primarily focused on technical and qualitative aspects of her work. Moreover, she sought to apply the inter-disciplinary research skills gained through the LoLo CDT, as well as Loughborough University’s School of Civil and Building Engineering 30-day researcher development training.

dscn0025Nafsika presented the technical aspect of her work, on assessing actual daylighting performance of classrooms in-use, at the 32nd Passive and Low Energy Architecture (PLEA 2016) Conference held in Los Angeles (paper available here). Apart from meeting the researchers whose work her PhD builds on, Nafsika toured art galleries in the Arts District, attended a concert at the famed Hollywood Bowl and visited a historic architecture site, the bold and striking Salk Institute.

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An invitation to tour the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) test beds (building efficiency simulators), including the most recent and state-of-the-art FLEXLAB, brought Nafsika to the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). An informal presentation of her project and Loughborough University’s work on daylighting led to ties with LBNL researchers, as well as with UCB students who eagerly introduced her to local PhD life. On the side, there were trips around San Francisco Bay, long walks through San Francisco and a visit to the city’s newly expanded Museum Of Modern Art.


dscn9907aIn early September, Nafsika presented the qualitative aspect of her project at the 4th European Conference on Behaviour and Energy Efficiency (BEHAVE 2016) held in Coimbra, Portugal (paper available here). Participants included social scientists, as well as numeroudscn9914s engineers keen to investigate real world problems by applying user-centered and mixed method approaches. A visit to the University of Coimbra (one of Europe’s oldest) and a couple of days enjoying the architecture of Lisbon’s historic quarters concluded the trip to Portugal.


img_0045Warming up for the new academic year, Nafsika headed to London to attend two inspiring and informative events. The first was BRE’s BEinspired: Stories that push boundaries. The evening brought together 11 women’s networks from the architecture, engineering and construction industries to discuss career and life balance aspirations and obstacles (highlights video here).

20160922_163321The second was the Lighting for Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016, the highlights of which were a compilation of the latest research findings, an innovative lighting product and input from an optician’s perspective. Between conferences there was time to visit two building related exhibits: V&A’s ‘Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design’ and New London Architecture’s 1:2000 scale interactive model of central London.

The model is housed within The Building Centre, which is also the venue of the forthcoming 7th LoLo Annual Colloquium. This, along with the CIBSE ASHRAE 2017 Technical Symposium, themed ‘Delivering Resilient High Performance Buildings’ and hosted by Loughborough University make up Nafsika’s highlights for the final months of her PhD.

Article by: Nafsika Drosou, LoLo PhD student
Photo credits: author and BRE (no. 7)