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Net Zero Futures Conference 2024 – Programme

Onsite sessions at Vincent Building, Cranfield University, MK43 0AL.


  • 9:30-10:00 Registration and networking
  • 10:00-10:10 Welcome and Introduction Professor Phil Longhurst
  • 10:10-10:45 How Researchers Can Impact The Transition To Net Zero Dr. Kathryn North, Dr. Lois Milner-Elkharouf, Dr. Mike Colechin
    Dr. Kathryn North (Director of C-DICE and Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Climate Change and Net Zero at Loughborough University), Dr. Mike Colechin (Co-Founder of Heuristic Games) and  Dr. Lois Milner-Elkharouf (Senior Project Manager – Arup) will present their ideas on how researchers can make a real-world impact on the transition to a Net Zero society.
  • 10:45-11:30 Ideas For An Impactful Career Dr Kathryn North, Dr. Chris Jackson, Dr. Lois Milner-Elkharouf, Dr. Mike Colechin, Dr. Bunmi Adefajo
    Short talk speakers will be joined by our keynote speaker Dr. Chris Jackson and Dr. Bunmi Adefajo for our panel discussion that is centred around the multiple career pathways open to postdoctoral researchers and highlight the impact they can have.
  • 11:30-11:50 Break
  • 11:50-12:30 Keynote Dr. Chris Jackson
    Achieving Net Zero is one of the most challenging tasks faced by humankind, yet it is essential if we are to minimise the catastrophic impacts of a warming planet. Against a backdrop of decarbonisation, we need to build safe, more sustainable cities and related infrastructure, and provide energy to an every-increasing population. As a geoscientist, I am particularly excited by this, given we will need to use the Earth’s subsurface in ways never previously attempted or, at least, attempted at scale. In this talk we will explore the role that you, as highly trained scientists, can contribute to us collectively achieving Net Zero.
  • 12:30-13:45 Lunch + Poster Display + Exhibition
    Hear from organisations across our partnership, view the posters on display and enjoy a vegetarian lunch.
  • 13:45-14:45 Parallel Sessions
    Choose from a variety of workshops and facilities tours. Workshops will enable delegates to explore the conference theme from variety of perspectives. Facilities tours will allow conference delegates to visit ERA and UKCRIC facilities on the Cranfield University campus. Delegates can register for their preferred session during registration, places available on a first come first served basis.
  • 14:45-15:15 Break
  • 15:15-16:15 Postdoc Careers With Impact Dr. Ines Tunga, Dr. Ahmad El-Kharouf, Dr. Gavin Harper
    Listen to some early career researchers to find out about their career journeys, the valuable lessons drawn during their career so far, and how they feel the work they are doing is impacting the transition to a Net Zero society and economy. 
  • 16:15-16:30 Closing Remarks And Reflections

Parallel Sessions

  • 13:45-14:45
    • A. Workshop 1: Cultivating a Fellowship – Dr. Humera Ansari, Dr. Dan Evans, Dr. Tom Dolan, Dr. Alex Elliot
    • Our C-DICE fellows will lead you through building a fellowship proposal from a research idea.  You will be introduced to the ‘three P’s’ as the core building blocks of a proposal.  You will identify the source of novelty in your research idea, exploring the potential impact of your research.  You will consider a range of practices in developing KPIs and be introduced to some practical tools to build your research proposal. 
      In this interactive workshop you gain the opportunity to explore examples, explain and build on your ideas, learn from each other, and practice your proposal development, with impact in mind.  Our fellows will draw on their successful (and unsuccessful) experiences in fellowship application processes from their position of recent experiences in this arena.
    • B. Workshop 2: Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Future Solutions – Dr. Yirui Jiang
    • This workshop will provide participants with insights into the transformative power of AI and its wide-ranging applications in energy, transportation, infrastructure, and sustainable urban development. This webinar is designed for researchers and professionals new to AI or interested in incorporating AI into their future research. Through compelling examples and discussions, this webinar offers an opportunity to understand how AI is revolutionising traditional approaches, driving efficiency, and enabling sustainable solutions.
      In this workshop, you will:
      – be introduced to AI through an overview including types and capabilities 
      – explore AI applications with a sustainability focus and consideration of case studies
      – engage in interactive group discussions to share your experiences, challenges, and insights and together we will explore future trends and opportunities. 
    • C. Workshop 3: Taster session for the Power Trader workshop – Dr. Mike Colechin
    • Have a go at running your own electricity company to keep your customers’ lights on, maximise profit and minimise carbon emissions. Mike will deliver a hands-on demonstration of the ‘serious game’ at the core of Heuristic’s Power Trader workshops.  The game simulates a ‘day ahead’ electricity market, introducing participants to the trading mechanisms that support our electricity system.  You will get to try out all the functionality of the system that is based on a web-app.  It is used in our full workshops to explore wider system issues including seasonal variations in generation, the impact of the energy crisis and longer-term strategic challenges of achieving net zero, including the potential introduction of hydrogen into the energy system. Please note you will need use of a laptop to take part.
    • D. Tour of Water Pilot Plant
      The National Research Facility for Water and Wastewater Treatment provides a unique collection of at-scale testbeds to support research on pollutant removal mechanisms and resilient operation of both engineered and environmental water and wastewater systems.
    • E. Tour of HyPER Project
      HyPER is an international collaboration led by Cranfield University to examine the potential for low-carbon hydrogen to be the clean fuel of the future. The HyPER project (Bulk Hydrogen Production by Sorbent Enhanced Steam Reforming) consists of a state-of-the-art 1.5 MWth pilot plant to test an innovative hydrogen production technology that substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Tea and coffee will be provided on arrival and during breaks. A vegetarian lunch will also be provided. Please note that the conference programme may be subject to change.

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