Dr Sara Tilley joined the OPENspace research centre at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in January 2014, primarily to work on the three-year Lifelong Health and Wellbeing funded project, Mobility, Mood and Place (MMP). She is now Study Manager and Research Fellow on OPENspace’s NIHR-funded research into the effectiveness of the Forestry Commission Scotland woodland improvement programme, Woods In and Around Towns (WIAT).
A Transport Geographer, Sara is interested in exploring the links between mobility in the urban environment and health and wellbeing, especially in younger and older age.
Her PhD in Ageing and Mobility at the University of St Andrews was funded by a CASE Studentship awarded by the ESRC in partnership with the MMM Group (formerly MRC McLean Hazel), a leading transport consultancy. Her performance led to further funding from the ESRC to undertake a Scottish Government internship, to a postgraduate conference award from the University of St Andrews and to a role as a Senior Researcher with the MMM Group in Edinburgh. She has also worked within the private sector, including for major firms, URS and Jacobs.
Sara has co-organised a number of conferences and presented her work at many more, including at the Association of American Geographers (AAG), San Francisco, April 2016, International Association People-Environment (IAPS) conference, Lund, July 2016 and at the RGS-IBG International Conference in London, September 2016.
She has also been invited to talk at the Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford in March 2017, as well as at a range of different events including the Academy of Urbanism in October 2016, Transport Scotland’s Research Seminar Series in December 2015, University of Edinburgh ‘Big Idea’ Podcast in March 2015 and Future of Cities: Glasgow, hosted by Prospect Magazine in association with the Government Office for Science in February 2015. From 2015 - 2016 she was also a member of an expert working group ‘A Square Go at Cities’, an initiative by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) to promote development of public realm and cultural infrastructure spaces in Scotland’s cities.
Sara has delivered seminars in quantitative and qualitative research methods to Masters in Landscape Architecture (MLA) and Landscape and Wellbeing (MSc) students in ESALA.
Just prior to joining OPENspace, she was awarded grants totalling £11,000 by the Design Council for Stages 1 and 2 of the Knee High Design Challenge, which seeks to improve the lives of children under five through design. During her time at ECA, she has been awarded Research Alliance kick starter funding for the community engagement ‘Blethering on a bus’ project (with Ryan Woolrych at Heriot-Watt University), and - with OPENspace colleagues - a CHSS Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant for the ‘Habitats for Happy Ageing’ project, and a Devolved Researcher Funding Award to run a Research Ethics Symposium for ECA colleagues.
For their contribution to the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, OPENspace was named runner-up in the Most Outstanding Team category of the CHSS College Recognition Awards 2015.