Kelly Gunnell is a PhD student in the Department of Geography. She is an environmental scientist and ecologist from Johannesburg, South Africa, where her early experiences of the natural landscape fostered a passion for the biological sciences and conservation.
She majored in Zoology and Journalism at Rhodes University in South Africa, and then completed a MSc at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA, on the conservation genetics of a threatened native trout species.
Kelly worked for eight years in the environmental sector, including as an environmental consultant, a project manager for the Bat Conservation Trust, and as an Ecology Manager for one of the London boroughs, developing expertise in urban ecology and biodiverse built infrastructure.
She was awarded a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)- funded PhD studentship in 2014 via the London NERC Doctoral Training Programme (DTP).
Thesis title: 'The role of natural infrastructure in providing flood mitigation ecosystem services to cities'
Cities will be where the impacts of climate change will be most acutely experienced. For some cities, these impacts will be increased surface water flooding due to increased precipitation and runoff. Understanding how green infrastructure, both in the city and in rural regions, can contribute to mitigating floods is crucially important for managing the risks of climate change.
Kelly's project takes an ecosystem services approach to map and model the role of natural green infrastructure in the flow of flood risk mitigation to the world’s cities from their upstream catchments, under current conditions and then scenarios under various projections of climate change and land-use change resulting from urban growth.