Name: Dr Miriam Ricci
Research institution: Centre for Transport & Society, Department of Planning and Architecture, University of the West of England
Research career length: 8 years
Research Council: Previously funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Location: Bristol, England
Brief summary of research: Evaluating policies that promote sustainable mobility and transport
MSc in Physics, University of Turin, Italy
PhD in innovation studies on the industrial applications of electron accelerators, University of Turin, Italy
Marie Curie Doctoral Fellowship at the Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester
Lab assistant at the FIAT Research Centre, Italy
Internship at the European Parliament, Science and Technological Options Assessment Unit
British Energy (UK) plant safety and control engineer
PhD in innovation studies
Research Fellow at Salford University, on a multi-disciplinary project on the hydrogen economy (funded by EPSRC)
Research Fellow, Centre for Transport & Society, Department of Planning and Architecture, University of the West of England
“Research is like playing football. You have a team of players, each with their individual strengths and capabilities that need to work together, but each of them also needs to follow their own specific training programme and develop their skills independently”
My research looks at the impact of a range of policies that promote active travel. These include programmes to promote walking and cycling, or making use of new technologies that reduce our dependence on oil, including using hybrid buses and cars. I also investigate what the public thinks about the changes to people’s lives arising from these policies.
My career so far has been unusual, in that it has taken me in various different directions, and has built on my ability to work across subjects. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Physics in Italy, where I was born, and went on to work as a temporary laboratory assistant at the Fiat Research Centre. I was looking to work abroad and gained an internship at a science and technology unit at the European Parliament, followed by a job at British Energy (UK), where I worked for a year.
I was, and still am, passionate about all science, but at this stage I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, so I tried various things, including a brief spell at Imperial College, London. I then decided to return to Italy and apply for a PhD , looking at how industry could make use of electron accelerators - a type of particle accelerator, which creates a beam of accelerated electrons that can be then used to process various types of materials in a wide range of industries. I gave my doctoral studies an 'international boost', and got a Marie Curie doctoral Fellowship at the Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester. While completing my doctorate, I was offered a job as Research Fellow at Salford University, on a project looking at how we might provide our energy needs using hydrogen. This was a different area of research but my ability to understand and work in physics and social sciences, proved to be a real advantage.
For me, some of the most fulfilling things about my research includes, investigating topics that matter for society, learning new things and working with very knowledgeable and helpful colleagues. I enjoy meeting other researchers at conferences and seminars, and meeting people in the wider world on projects that involve local authorities or in the commercial sector.
Working in research is like being paid to become a better individual and becoming more knowledgeable. It provides the opportunity to solve problems, ask the right questions and seek the answers that are valuable for society.