Meet Our Team
Amanda Gibberd is director of Universal Design and Universal Access at the Department of Transport, South Africa. She works on the implementation of the Accessible Public Transport Strategy. Universal access is conceptualised through the ‘Travel Chain,’ focusing on the safe, equal and dignified passage of people with disabilities and other universal access passengers.
Originally an occupational therapist, Amanda has a post-graduate diploma in environmental access from the Architectural Association in London, UK, and a Masters in universal access in urban planning from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She is studying for a PhD at University College London, UK.
Professor of Intelligent Mobility
I am a transport engineer with a multidisciplinary background covering civil engineering, architecture, and intelligent mobility. I am leading research on Intelligent Mobility at UCL CEGE. I am also Director of the Intelligent Mobility at UCL (IM@UCL) lab, a full-size driving simulator, which is located at UCL PEARL. My research interest lies in exploring interactions with semi- and fully autonomous vehicles in different contexts (e.g., shared spaces, connected and autonomous systems), an area of application that significantly benefits from Robotics and AI. Within the field of CAVs, I am interested in the complexity of interaction and how intuitive, intelligent, human-centric and personalised control systems can influence it. In my group, we analyse datasets and feedback information to the human with the aim to optimise their travel behaviour based on personal preferences, mental states or connected vehicles/infrastructure data.
Beky ran away from the circus to study Technical Theatre at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Here she fell in love with lighting and started her career in theatre, dance and opera. Beky has worked as a lighting technician for leading producing theatres such at the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre and English National Opera. She has toured the world with dance companies such as Michael Clark Company and DV8 Physical Theatre. She has also lit many productions for companies including The Royal Court, National Theatre and DV8 Physical Theatre. Beky used her in depth knowledge of theatre lighting whilst working as a Theatre Consultant for Charcoalblue, where she developed her skills in stagelighting and audiovisual infrastructure design.
Beky brings a wide range of stagelighting, production and CAD knowledge to PEARL, where she works closely with experiment project managers to research, develop and mount experiments within the PEARL laboratory, as well as providing technical support for events and hires.
Clemence is a Lecturer passionate about environmental and transport policy-making and planning, in particular at the urban level. Her work is highly interdisciplinary and aims to transform governance processes across levels (supranational, national and sub-national) and sectors. She is a political scientist and historian by background. Her research and teaching work has a strong interdisciplinary component and a focus on policy impact. She currently coordinates an international research project, T-SUM, focusing on sustainable urban mobility transitions in sub-Saharan Africa. She advises supranational, national and local policy-makers and has done extensive work investigating how to ‘translate’ scientific evidence into policy-making.
Community Partnerships and Engagement Representative
David's path to his current position at PEARL has seen him nibble at a few different fields. He started off his educational journey by studying business (accounting option) at secondary school and continued to read marketing for his first degree. However, a deep curiosity for how the mind works saw him drop out in his first year and enrol at another university to study psychology. In 2014, he earned a BSc in psychology. Since then, he has worked in logistics, hospitality, education and is now a Community Partnerships and Engagement Representative at PEARL, where his role broadly encompasses front of house duties and helping with recruitment for research as well as engaging with the community and stakeholders.
Strategic Partnerships Director
Fiona has a passion for seeing academic ideas being adopted by a wide user group so that the world can benefit from these innovations. As Strategic Partnerships Director she is responsible for building and maintaining relationships with external parties to deliver novel research activities that can be translated into our everyday lives. If you have an idea of how me might do this in partnership, please get in touch so we can explore potential collaborations. Fiona’s research background is in investigating how efficiently flexible polymeric materials generate electrical charge from sunlight. It was undertaking research in partnership with industry that she discovered she was more passionate about the adoption of new technologies than researching them herself. This led a transition from the lab where she moved into innovation policy and from there, working within universities to support industrial relations including consultancy, account management and patenting of intellectual property.
Professor of Robotics
I am a roboticist leading research on soft haptics and robotics at UCL Mechanical Engineering. I am also Co-Director of the Intelligent Mobility at UCL (IM@UCL) lab, a full-size driving simulator, which is located at UCL PEARL. My research interest focuses on the hardware design and application of soft material robotic systems that have the ability to change their shape and stiffness on demand bridging the gap between traditional rigid and entirely soft robots. I create and embed innovative stiffness-controllable mechanisms as well as combine advanced Artificial Intelligence with control strategies in robotic prototypes emerging from my lab. This field of robotics is a truly multidisciplinary engineering subject as it requires knowledge in, e.g., material science, design and manufacturing, electrical and electronic engineering as well as computer science. My research is application-driven and informed by close collaboration with experts from, e.g., transport engineering, medicine and industrial sectors. In the field of autonomous vehicles for instance, I build a soft, stiffness-controllable and shape-changing driving seat to guide the driver in a safe way when changing between different levels of autonomy.
Jordy Spencer Adjagboni
Jordy is a full time PhD student at UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering. His research interest is on the interaction between people and their environment. As a transport planner, he is particularly keen on how transport infrastructures are designed to cater for the needs of different group of people. His research focuses on how pedestrians make their crossing decision under different lighting conditions. He will investigate pedestrians’ visual needs (for safety and perceived safety) and how these are affected by changes in road lighting. In other words, the influence of lighting levels on pedestrian’s road crossing decision and perception of being seen by the driver. The research will involve making pedestrians more alert to possible hazards and could improve visibility and the visual perception to detect objects such as a vehicle.
Jordy holds a Master of Science in Transport Planning and Engineering from Newcastle University and a BEng in Civil Engineering from the University of Salford. Prior to coming to PEARL, Jordy was a civil engineer on various highways projects in west Africa. In his time there, he oversaw the feasibility study of international highway corridors (from Lagos, Nigeria to Dakar, Senegal). He was also involved in the first phase of the Project Asphalt in Cotonou, Benin Republic. A project that aimed to modernise the urban fabric of the city through the rehabilitation and development of the road network. His dream is that cities are designed to be inclusive, catering for the needs of every single individual equally.
Matthew graduated from Middlesex University with a BA(Hons) Drama and Technical Theatre Arts. He has worked as a Theatre Technician for over a decade for various venues such as The Bush, Cockpit Theatre and Jacksons Lane. Matthew developed an interest in immersive theatre and has worked with Punchdrunk, Milo Waldek, and RIFT. He was resident Performing Arts Technician for Putney High School for Girls, and Langley Park School for Girls.
Nikos is the PEARL Building Manager. He’s responsible for maintenance, Health and Safety and adherence to GDPR protocols at PEARL. He was born and raised in Crete and is passionate with olive trees and is a proud olive oil producer. He got very early into sports as he graduated Sports scientist and PE Teacher which he practiced in education system in Greece for some years. Always curious to explore new horizons he left the country on 2009 and came in London to accomplish an MSc course at UCL Faculty of Medical sciences on Sports medicine. After this he worked for 2 years in London 2012 organising committee for the Olympic Games as a Technical Operations Manager and then he joined back again UCL by working at PAMELA and Prof Nick Tyler initiating with him his PhD degree. Nikos is interested and fascinated by the idea of making the built environment more accessible to all and the world a more equitable and healthy place to live.
Specialist Lead for Lighting and Video
Ralph is the Specialist Lead for Lighting and Video at UCL PEARL. He comes from a background in technical production and design for theatre, Opera and site-specific events. Initially graduating with a First Class BA(Hons) in Lighting Design he has spent the last decade and more working on mid to large scale productions of much variation. He has toured extensively across the UK and Internationally and worked frequently alongside both established and upcoming practitioners and companies. Ralph believes that the challenges and multifariousness of PEARL’s technology capabilities will really enhance ongoing scientific research. He will collaborate with the rest of the Making & Production Team to facilitate professional and PhD study on all future projects.
Senior Research Fellow
Sara embodies PEARL's interdisciplinary approach to research with her own multidisciplinary background spanning architecture, urban design, music and health. As a Senior Research Fellow, her research focusses on the design of healthier, more accessible and sustainable cities for all citizens. She is a strong advocate of participatory approaches and facilitates multi-sectorial and multidisciplinary collaborations around the world. This is aided by her previous experience in private practice, NGO's, local and state government, and national research institutions before returning to academia.
Sara is responsible for growing PEARL's international network and exploring new and innovative approaches to remote working. As a global citizen, she has worked in cities in Australia, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa on improving urban health and sustainability, including facilitating capacity-building workshops in developing cities in Latin America on behalf of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Sara also helps to communicate PEARL's research through the Arts. As PEARL's inhouse designer, she disseminates PEARL's vision through visual marketing and branded merchandise. She is author of the interactive audio-visual 'book', Musical Cities: Listening to Urban Design and Planning (UCL Press, 2017).
Dr Tatsuto Suzuki is a research technician of the Person Environment Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL, UCL), which is a successor of the Pedestrian Accessibility Movement Environment Laboratory (PAMELA, UCL). His research interests are directed towards understanding task-oriented person's multi-sensorial activities (vision, hearing, and tactile) and locomotion of people in aged and/or with various disabilities, and improving environments and assistive devices for quality of life, health and safety. As a member of UCL Accessibility Research Group and Centre for Transport Studies, Dr Tatsuto Suzuki is working in PEARL with Professor Nick Tyler, to conduct research testing person-environment interactions from neurological, physiological, orthopaedic and multisensorial perspectives, with academics and students from UCL and international research institutions. Dr Tatsuto Suzuki would like to have new multidisciplinary connections and ideas for international accessibility research for all. Before joining to UCL, Dr Tatsuto Suzuki worked as an associate professor at the National Institute of Technology, Maizuru College in Japan, for education about mechanical engineering and research about assistive technologies, especially development of control system for hybrid(Human and machine) powered attendant propelled wheelchairs.
Specialist Lead Technician
Ayako studied material and earth science during her undergraduate, MSc and PhD courses in Japan, researching minerals and glasses in high-pressure and high-temperature conditions. She volunteered for a year in The Haskel High Pressure Laboratory at UCL. She also has some experience in primary and secondary education in Japan. After moving to the UK, she joined PAMELA, the predecessor of PEARL and worked in the team researching posterior cortical atrophy, which collaborated with the UCL Neurology group. At PEARL, she is a Specialist Lead Technician who manages some instrumentation (Eye tracker, fNIRS and OAE devices) and analyses data. She is also interested in microcontroller boards like Raspberry Pi and Jetson.
Strategic Partnerships and Operations Manager
Barbara, just like most of PEARL’s family, didn’t have a linear path in her career – we don’t follow linearity in here! She studied economics in her secondary school, she was awarded a MEng in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and finally a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science focussed on AI - Fuzzy Neural Networks. She undertook an academic career until 2011, with her last position being a visiting Assistant Professor at CMU (USA). She returned to the UK because of love (…although it didn’t work out at the end!) and to try to pursue an unfulfilled dream from her childhood- being a maid! She decided to slightly adapt it to a Project Manager role (probably still reflecting her willing to organise and manage, not very clear in the mind of a child!). Since then she has been managing multimillion projects and programmes, including a variety of disciplines - that came handy when dealing with the transdisciplinary character of PEARL! Managing UKCRIC, a £250M programme, with PEARL being one of its facilities, was her last position before she moved on to embrace the exciting and honourable PEARL’s vision to make the world better! As Strategic Partnerships and Operations Manager at PEARL she develops partnerships with universities, charities and industry. She looks after a chunk of operations and in particular the financial aspect of the business. She leads the Enabling Team, which is a nice group in the family dealing with Partnerships and Operations.
Ben graduated from the Royal academy of Dramatic Art specializing in sound. His training there encompassed all aspects of theatre from construction to wardrobe and everything in between, which he is very grateful for the varied skillset it has provided him with. He has since specialized in immersive theatre (and living his inner nerds dream), working on projects including: Dr Who: Time Fracture, Guardians of the Galaxy Secret Cinema and The Stranger Things Experience. Events like these have given him a wide knowledge in unconventional ways to create and provide audio solutions and the infrastructure behind them, which he hopes prove useful in projects at PEARL.
Community Partnerships and Engagement Representative
Craig is part of the Community Partnerships team where he works to connect PEARL with the world outside its doors. He has a background working with events in the music industry and employs this experience in the project managing of event held by PEARL. Craig’s academic background consists of a bachelor’s degree in Geography and a master’s in urban planning, which he has complimented with consulting for various stakeholders in the development of bespoke travel solutions and evaluation metrics. Craig enjoys working alongside his colleagues at PEARL on tackling the big questions that face our increasingly urbanised world and has a particular focus on eliminating barriers experienced by those with individual difference.
Derrick Boampong completed his PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Durham University in 2004. Prior to that, he completed a BEng (Hons) in Materials Science and Engineering, at Queen Mary’s and Westfield College, University of London in 1999. He currently manages Research work at the Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL) where undertaken research involves people. PEARL is one of the laboratories in the UK National Facility for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), and part of the Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering’s Centre for Transport Studies at UCL. It is a unique multisensory real-world-scale laboratory where floor surface, lighting, olfaction, smoke and sounds of the environment can be controlled and provides a flexible facility that allows full scale pedestrian infrastructure to be built and tested, to enable thorough assessment and evaluation of the interaction between people and close-to-real-life environment.
Community Partnerships Manager
Helen studied Architecture at the University of Bath where she concentrated on manipulating the sensory environment to help minimise the negative effects of sleep disorders. With several years of experience in the design industry across Antarctic, Heritage, Community and Residential projects she went onto study Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey, with a particular focus on creativity. As a freelancer Helen has worked on several co-creative community projects. For example, running participatory workshops with school children, to design a new arts space that would help them be as creative as possible. At PEARL, Helen manages the PEARL Community Partnerships and Engagement Team to work with local people, schools and various priority groups based on our experiments. Their main aim is to the share our knowledge, resources and opportunities with the wider community. They work as a team to develop community research, education, engagement and co-creation projects with individuals, external partners and stakeholders.
Concentrating best when immersed in nature, Julia is interested in how people interact with their environment. During her training in Geography at the University of Bonn, Germany, and at UCL, Julia gained a profound multidisciplinary understanding of the multiple benefits of greenspaces from the different perspectives of urban planning, climate change adaptation, public health, and environmental psychology. She was also involved in research projects with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
As a visiting researcher at The Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, Australia, Julia became interested in re-thinking streets as places for human-nature-interactions to promote healthy lifestyles and liveable cities. Currently undertaking her PhD under the supervision of Nick Tyler and Jian Kang at PEARL, she explores how multisensory stimuli from streetscape vegetation (including vision, sounds, and scents) affect pedestrians’ physiology and perceptions. Curious to find creative ways of communicating research findings, Julia is keen to rethink current research practices and develop a multisensory methodology by bringing together approaches from philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, engineering, and architecture. Providing policymakers and planners with in-depth insights into how and why people interact with various types and arrangements of streetscape vegetation, she aims to contribute to the challenge of translating insights from multisensory research into urban design practice. In a team with other PhD students at PEARL, she also won a CEGE Curiosity research Grant to measure passenger comfort across the London Underground network and develop a Temperature and Resonance in an Underground Environment (TRUE) Tube Map that helps Londoners take more informed decisions about their journeys.
Nick Tyler has been following the idea, that the world should be a better place for all species, through a forest of different influences that have come together in the PEARL concept. These influences include understanding what it takes, as a small individual in a large orchestra, to create something that could never exist without such coming together of people, ideas and time; figuring out in industry how products, people, vehicles and time had to be brought together so that people could have the medicines they need; developing new ways of looking at what we mean by engineering and education, society and time; and asking how we as a species might come to figure out the world around us – including people, animals and plants. Each of these brings together the concepts of people, ambience, time and space, and Nick created PEARL so that we can bring these together to find ways of both understanding and communicating how we might be able to live in a better world. The idea continues to lead; we continue to follow; the world awaits.
Research Assistant / PhD student
Octavio Zamudio Lopez
Octavio finds his comfort zone in no zone, as a right-brained geek that enjoys to be a generalist with focus on research, almost anything attracts his curious look, however, he has remained inclined towards Sciences along his formal education. He has wide interest in the relationships between city environments and long-term health, and the role of engineering design to find, communicate, and modify those relationships in accordance to human responses. His current research and PhD topic (in process) delves into the health implications on the human knee derived from walking on concrete footways.
Being a Mechanical Electrical Engineer by background, he worked in the automotive industry before shifting focus towards health and transport, and completing postgraduate degrees in Data Science, and in Civil Engineering. As PEARL research assistant, he finds the perfect opportunity to quickly assimilate information from different fields and to participate in concept-proofing research ideas through combining seemingly unrelated tools with the state-of-the-art capabilities of PEARL.
Samar Maqusi is a Research Associate at PEARL, currently working in tandem with UCL’s RELIEF centre. Her work investigates modes of sociality and vitality in the camps, inside a burdened Lebanon, while drawing analysis and reflections on possible forms of livelihoods between the camp and the city. Samar’s career as an architect and urban specialist includes 13+ years of experience in international development, including urban design and development in conflict-areas. Before moving to UCL, Samar worked with UNRWA (UN Agency for Palestine refugees) as an Architect/Physical Planner, focusing on programmes of shelter rehabilitation and camp improvement. Samar completed her PhD at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, in which she investigated the politics of space-making inside the Palestine refugee camps from their inception as scattered relief tents to the highly dense and urbanized architectural form they have become today, mainly focusing on Jordan and Lebanon. She is involved in documentary film-making, spatial installations and exhibited her work and photography in London and the US.
Specialist Lead: Sound
Acting Technical Services Manager
Steve is the acting Technical Services Manager and Specialist Lead: Sound at UCL PEARL. Upon graduating from Arden school of Theatre in Manchester, Steve has specialised as a sound designer, composer, production sound engineer and head of department.
Steve has worked as a sound technician for companies such as Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatres and People Show amongst many others. Steve has also worked as head of sound for Barbican Centre and as lead lecturer / head of sound on the Technical Theatre & Stage Management course at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Steve has maintained a freelance career as a sound designer and composer on over fifty productions working for companies such as High Tide festival, Watermill Theatre, Barbican Centre, Mercury Theatre and Edinburgh Fringe amongst many others.
Steve’s role at PEARL is to manage the M&P team and work with academics, students and private hires to help realise experiments.
Yitao is a full-time PhD student at UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, with a Master of Science in Transport from Imperial College London/UCL. Her research interests focus on how people interact with the environment, with a keen interest in how the brain perceives and responses to the changing environment. In the first year of her PhD, Yitao was involved in the e-scooter sound project with Tier and Transport for London, where she helped design a sound for e-scooters in London to aid pedestrians in detecting and locating them without adding too much noise to the urban soundscape. Her contributions to the project involved incorporating insights from human hearing and neuroscience research.
Yitao's current research is focused on the effects of crowding in public transport on passengers' physiology, perception, and cognition, with a particular emphasis on the cognitive load that passengers experience when faced with overcrowding situation and the potential negative effects that may result. She will investigate how changes in the commuting environment, such as lighting, sound, and seating arrangements, could potentially alleviate the negative impacts caused by crowding. By looking into the logic and science behind the crowding problem, her work has the potential to inspire policymakers and urban planners to rethink the relationship between people and public transport, thus creating a more friendly and inclusive city for the public.