Meet the university team tackling climate change through video gaming

30th Apr

University of Hull students and staff have supported a major digital conference that used gaming to increase awareness of climate change.

Victoria Bessonova and Hannah Marsden – both students at Aura’s Centre for Doctoral Training – were joined by MSc Renewable Energy lead Dr Simon Waldman as mentors at Climate Jam, which started on Earth Day on April 22 and ran until May 2.

Games at the Climate Jam covered a wide range of concepts, including Capturing the Wind, Clean Energy Jobs and Climate Justice.

Hannah Marsden is a chemical engineer, researching the possibility of recycling waste clothes to produce carbon nanomaterials that will be used as additives in wind turbine blade manufacture. 

She said: “I’m really interested in how scientific concepts are communicated and I think gaming is a great way to make ideas more engaging and easier to understand. During our PG Dip year at the Aura CDT, we worked on our communication skills and I’m looking forward to developing these further.

“The Aura CDT, and Energy & Environment Institute as a whole, have shown me lots of innovative ways that research can be shared with wider audiences.”

Hannah, Victoria and Dr Waldman acted as mentors at the Jam, sharing their knowledge and expertise in clean growth and energy, and inspiring future generations of climate scientists.

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Victoria Bessonova (left) is an electrical engineer by training, with an interest in machine learning. She is currently undertaking an industry-sponsored project with partners at ORE Catapult researching climate change impact on the offshore energy industry.

Victoria’s experiences of working within the Moscow energy industry inspired her to apply to become a mentor for the Climate Jam.

She said: “Throughout my career, I often encounter a lack of understanding of what the energy sector is.

“When I say that I am an energy engineer, the majority of people appear startled. Despite every single person using electricity and energy every day, few of them actually know how it gets there.

“I have regularly experienced difficulties in explaining the energy and different technologies, especially in my home country, where there’s no drive for the energy transition and often no understanding why the climate change is a pressing issue.

“So, I think gamification of these complex problems is a great idea to convey the importance of ideas no matter the age or the country of origin of the person since everyone like playing.”

The Aura CDT in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment is enabling the growth of a sustainable offshore wind sector, via cross-disciplinary research that directly addresses industry needs.

It currently has 24 funded PhD students across two-year groups and will take on a further 50 students over the next three years.

Students take an initial training year, hosted by the Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull, before embarking on three years of PhD research at either Hull, or one of the partners institutions – the universities of Durham, Newcastle or Sheffield.

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