Ellie wins top prize for research that prompted Darnall tree planting
Ellie, who completed the six-week Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) project with Dr Nicola Dempsey, interviewed residents in the east Sheffield suburb, to find out how they felt about existing, and potential new, street trees.
By teaming up with Sheffield Street Tree Partnership (SSTP) and Sheffield City Council, Ellie’s work resulted in ten new trees — including oak, elm, birch, field maple, magnolia and Turkish hazel — being planted around Senior Road, Catley Road and Handsworth Avenue.
The SURE scheme offers funded opportunities for undergraduate students to work in partnership with an academic staff member on a dedicated research project during the summer vacation.
I have learnt so much over the project, which is all thanks to my amazing supervisor, Dr Nicola Dempsey, the project team Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Street Tree Partnership. This is an irreplaceable experience that I can take with me in my career.
MLA Landscape Architecture
We spoke to Ellie about her experience
Tell us a bit about your SURE project - what was its aim and how did you go about researching it?
My project explored residents’ perceptions about existing trees and the potential for new trees in their streets in Darnall, a suburb of Eastern Sheffield. The research focused on how residents perceived streets with and without additional trees.
To gather information, I showed residents ‘before and after’ visuals highlighting the difference in streetscape.
We co-designed the project with the Sheffield Street Tree Partnership (SSTP), a coalition of Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG), the Woodland Trust and other stakeholders. Following several meetings with the Partnership, we designed a short questionnaire to:
- Explore residents attitudes to urban street tree planting
- Ascertain if residents of Darnall would want to change their own street tree planting
- Identify the barriers and catalysts of planting new street trees
- Explore how residents respond to visualisation as a method of data collection
To encourage participation in the questionnaire, I put posters up around Darnall. I then analysed the data and presented the results to the project team.
What skills and knowledge do you feel your project helped you to develop that you wouldn't have otherwise?
I have learnt so much over the project which is all thanks to my amazing supervisor, Dr Nicola Dempsey, and the project team Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Street Tree Partnership.
It has taught me invaluable communication and team work skills. I listened to the council's aims for the outcome of the project and was able to draw my own conclusions of the project. It also taught me how to conduct my own research, which was a rare and fantastic opportunity, whilst still being in the 2nd year of my undergraduate degree.
This is an irreplaceable experience that I can take with me in my year in industry and my later career.
How did you feel when you found out you had been awarded best output?
I was very shocked! I knew there were so many SURE participants from all different departments who were researching such interesting and innovative projects. I would never have thought that my own work would have been rewarded, but I am obviously very pleased and grateful for the opportunity from the SURE team, the Department and University.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I would also like to thank Sheffield City Council, in particular David Wain, as the successful project led to funding to allow me to plant 10 trees within my target area, Darnall.