Panton Fellowship- End of year post

November 11, 2014 in Featured, Panton Fellowships, Uncategorized

Well this last year seems to have flown by but I have to say I have really enjoyed my year as a Panton Fellow. As someone who had very little knowledge of all things open at the beginning of the year it’s been a great experience for me, meeting some interesting people, talking to scientists about open policies and learning more about the issues surrounding open data and open science. In this blog post I will summarise my work as a one of the 13/14 Panton Fellows and include some of the outputs of my project at the bottom.

I would like to say running my school based project has been easy and that I achieved everything I set out to do but unfortunately that’s not the case. As anyone who works with schools will know, it takes a lot of time and effort on both the parts of the visitor and the teachers and sometimes getting things to be implemented as quickly as you like is not always possible. This is not a criticism of teachers by the way, I see how overworked they are and any projects like this that they get involved with only add to their work load.

Introducing students to the project

Introducing students to the project

So where to begin, well the aims of my project were pretty simple:

  1. Install air quality sensors in primary schools.
  2. Get students to collect data and work as the scientists.
  3. Host data on a webpage to allow the local public to see what air quality is like in their area.
  4. Increase knowledge of Open Data/ Open Science in the air quality field.

I think that it is safe to say that I definitely achieved elements of each of these aims as well as getting involved in lots of other things on the way.

If you read my June blog post then you will know that I eventually managed to get an air quality sensor and weather station into a school and I ran my first introductory session with the students. To say the students were engaged with the project was an understatement, they were so enthusiastic and their knowledge of all things air quality far surpassed my initial expectations. The sensor was installed in the school and successfully collected data from the 6th-11th of June. Then for some unknown reason it stopped working. This unfortunately coincided with my contact teacher leaving the school and the summer holidays starting. So an unfortunate series of events left me with five days of data for the last school year- not quite to plan. I am now back in touch with the new science coordinator at the school and we are hoping to start the project again before Christmas. In the meantime I have been making links to other schools and am looking to start work in a second school in the New Year.

So what else have I been up to this year? Well I have presented my Panton work at several conferences. The first one was in March at the Air Quality Conference in Garmisch-Parternkirchen and I received a great response from that- the blog post that I wrote about this conference is found here. I have also presented at several UK conferences, the NCEO/CEOI annual conference in Sheffield and the NCEO young scientist conference. The poster I presented at these conferences is found at the bottom of this blog.

Using electric cars to measure air quality in Leicester

Using electric cars to measure air quality in Leicester

Over the last year I have also continued to work with colleagues from RMetSoc and Manchester Met on citizen science projects to be run in school. We ran a successful pilot project last year with primary school students making rain gauges and then sending us daily rainfall measurements. We produced a paper outlining the results of this project for Weather in July this year. Over the next few months we plan to further this project by asking schools to buy a more reliable rain gauge and then increasing the size of the school network from the pilot project. Further to this citizen science project I have also co-authored a paper on Crowdsourcing for atmospheric science applications that is currently in press.

I work within the Air Quality Group at the University of Leicester and one of our current projects is the development of some open source air quality sensors. These will be designed to be cheap but also scientifically sound. A significant test period is underway with the current version of these sensors and so far they have been installed in electric cars and elsewhere in Leicester and Berlin (a sensor was installed in Berlin during OKFest). We are still finalising the designs of these but plan to release an open source design in 2015. When we have final designs for these I am planning to install several across schools in Leicester as they offer a much cheaper alternative to those sensors currently on the market.

What next?

This fellowship has been a great opportunity for me to kick start a citizen science project and further my interest in the development of open source air quality sensors. It also allowed me to attend conferences to discuss open data in air quality which received positive feedback from many colleagues.

The next steps for me are to continue with my school based project and aim this year to run a sensor in a school for a full term. I am also hoping to extend this to more schools. I also plan to continue to be involved with other citizen science projects where time will allow and continue to promote open data in air quality.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my year as a Panton Fellow and would like to finish by thanking Peter Murray-Rust, Michelle Brook, Jenny Molloy and my fellow fellows for all their support and ideas over the year.



Introduction for schools

Conference Poster presented at the Air Quality Conference 2014

General information poster for schools

Presentation from NCEO Young Scientists Conference




Illingworth, S.M, Muller, C.L, Graves, R and Chapman, L., UK Citizen Rainfall Network: a pilot study, Weather, 2014, 26:8, 203-207

Muller, C.L, Champman, L., Johnston, S., Kidd, C., Illingworth, S., Foody, G., Overeem, A., Graves, R., Crowdsourcing for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences: Current Status and Future Potential, IJOC, 2014, In Press


NERC Planet Earth Online podcast,


Electric Cars and air quality story



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