Simone Farris

Department of Landscape Architecture

PhD student

Full contact details

Simone Farris
Department of Landscape Architecture
Arts Tower
Western Bank
S10 2TN

A little about me

“How old is this tree? Why there is no grass under it?” I believe those were the questions I asked when, in my infancy, I found myself in a public garden, facing a towering specimen of strangler fig (Ficus macrophylla). Such curiosity is often transitory in children, in time fading away in favour of other interests. For me it was different, and curiosity still drives me today: in everything I do, I can see the chance to learn something new.

Studying Natural Sciences at the university further refined my approach, giving me methods based on observation and evidence, but more importantly the capabilities to understand phenomena at a wider level, interconnecting different points of view from many disciplines.

Through my dissertation work, in which I analysed the flora of the Architecture campus and proposed enhancements for its green space, I experienced how my curiosity could also result useful to the community. Collaborating with fellow students in a project named UniCaVerde, and thanks to our local government initiative, in 2018, some of my dissertation ideas were implemented into the campus garden, planting over 250 new trees and bushes. A renewed garden, ecologically efficient, where present and future students can relax and socialise.

This experience made me realise how much biological diversity can be found within our green spaces, no matter how mundane they might look. It also raised new questions about the importance of such diversity can have on human health, as it underlies most of the ecosystem services our cities rely on.

Current research

In 2019 I was offered the golden opportunity to undertake PhD studies here at the University of Sheffield, thanks to a 1+3 Award from the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP). Therefore, I was also able to complete a Master of Arts in Social Research, which equipped me with solid bases to effectively approach and understand phenomena from the social world.

This research project will focus on the positive effects which urban biodiversity may generate on citizens’ psychophysiological wellbeing. Through experimentally controlling biodiversity levels while monitoring mood and heart rate variability, I aim to better understand the processes produced by the brain-body interactions when we spend time in urban green spaces. However, attention will be also paid to social aspects, such as preferences and perceptions about nature and nature connectedness and how these may act as moderators in the biodiversity/wellbeing relationship.


2019-2020 MA in Social Research, University of Sheffield

2013-2015 Master Degree in Science of Nature, University of Cagliari, Italy

2009-2013 First Level Degree in Natural Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy

Research interests

Urban Biodiversity, Greenspace and Wellbeing, Heart rate variability, Perceptions of Nature, Nature connectedness.

Research group


Dr Ross Cameron (University of Sheffield)

Dr Nicola Dempsey (University of Sheffield)

Dr Kirsten McEwan (University of Derby)