You are browsing the archive for Rosie Graves.

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



Recruiting Scientists

- June 10, 2014 in Panton Fellowships, Panton Principles

Working out where we should install our sensors

Working out where we should install our sensors

Anyone whose been following the progress of my fellowship through my blog posts will know that I have been working towards getting sensors into schools for a while now. Well a couple of weeks ago I finally ran an introductory session with some primary school pupils (aged 8-11) at Kibworth CE Primary school in Leicestershire.

I had been developing the introductory material for a few weeks prior to the lesson with some help from the teachers at Kibworth who have been really responsive and open to my ideas. We decided we wanted this activity to be very student led so that they actually planned much of the experiment themselves to encourage them to think about why we were doing this in more depth. We titled the introductory session “What’s in the air you breathe?”.

Snapshots of the introductory presentation "What's in the air you breathe"

Snapshots of the introductory presentation “What’s in the air you breathe”

I started the session by introducing the topic of air quality to the students, from the very basic first discussions of what makes up the air to talking about emission sources and health effects of air pollution. The introduction lasted less than 20 minutes and I encouraged lots of discussion with the students, asking them specific questions to work out what knowledge they had and to allow them to teach one another. The response to this was great and I was impressed by how much they knew about the atmosphere, one student explained the greenhouse effect to us and another mentioned the ozone hole. I hadn’t expected them to know so much about the topics we were discussing and so I was really pleased when I started talking to them.We then showed the students the equipment that they would have in school and explained what everything did. It was then over to the students to work out in groups where they wanted to install all of the sensors. To make this decision I asked them to think about where they thought the sources of air pollution around the school would be and where there are people who would be breathing it in. They quickly identified that the highest levels of pollution were likely to be in the car park, near the road and at the bottom of the playground which was relatively close to a train line. They also told me that in the morning and afternnon lots of people would be walking through the car park and at lunchtimes the students would all be in the playground. At this point one of the fundamental hurdles of being a field work scientist had to also be explained to the students- some of the sensors need mains power and so although the school gates may have been a good position in terms of producing interesting data, logistically it wasn’t possible to power the sensor that far from the school building.After lots of enthusiastic discussion and some expectation management they decided that they would like to put the sensor in three positions and so the pupils planned to move it around the school during the term. These were:

  1. In the playground near to the car park and the chicken coop- they wanted to see what levels of pollution the chickens were being exposed to as well as themselves during playtime.
  2. At the bottom of the playground near to the train tracks.
  3. In the main playground where most of the students played at lunchtimes.
Lots of enthusiastic ideas...

Lots of enthusiastic ideas…

The sensors are now with the school waiting to be installed in the next few weeks at which point data will start streaming in. While the students are busy being the scientists I need to get on with planning a data analysis session that we can run before the summer holidays. Overall I’m really pleased with how the session went and look forward to going back into the school soon.


Panton Progress at the Half Way Point

- April 11, 2014 in Panton Fellowships

I’m now six months into my year-long Panton Fellowship and so it’s time to give a short overview of what I’ve achieved so far.  The last quarter has been a busy one that’s for sure with conferences, OA forums, school meetings and instrument developments.


Presenting some AQ research at the AQ Conference 2014

Presenting some AQ research at the AQ Conference 2014

In March I spent a week in the beautiful Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the Air Quality Conference.  Whilst I was there as well as enjoying some delicious Bavarian cuisine and presenting some of my PhD research I presented a poster on my Panton work and got some great feedback. Overall everyone seemed to agree that air quality data was a great candidate for an open data project especially with the increasing amount of attention the issue has been getting recently in Europe.  I also had some interesting discussions about the species I am measuring and there was some consensus that I may want to start with a simpler measurement plan so that may be implemented in the near future.

At The University of Leicester we recently had our Research week and as part of that The University Library hosted and Open Access forum. Our special invited guests for this forum were Peter Murray-Rust and Michelle Brook who I was pleased to finally meet in person! It turned out to be a really interesting event where lots of OA issues were discussed in an informal setting. You can see the kind of things that were discussed on PMR’s blog.  I thought that this was a great event with researchers, librarians and OA advocates all discussing the issues surrounding OA. It was especially interesting to see all of the figures that have come out of Michelle’s recent work on the Wellcome Trust APC dataset.

After another meeting with the school that I’m working with we now have a date for installation of the instruments and the start of the project.  We are currently working together to plan an introductory session for the students that will introduce them to the project and get them to think about where we might want to install the instruments. As I mentioned in my last blog post I now have a webpage to host my data and the sensor has undergone some calibrations in the lab.

Not a bad view from the conference centre in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Not a bad view from the conference centre in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

I’ve also been busy contributing to a citizen science in atmospheric science review paper which is now under review and preparing to present as part of a short course on school outreach at EGU in Vienna at the end of the month.

So a busy few months but I think for me the next couple of months look to be the most exciting with installation of sensors and data streaming in.

A live AQ data feed- finally!

- February 19, 2014 in Panton Fellowships, Panton Principles

As anyone who has ever done lab work will know, it always takes longer than you expect! Well that’s definitely the case with my sensor calibration experiments. We have got there eventually though and the calibration is happening this week. So while all of the delays were happening there I decided to get a webpage sorted that I can use as a live data feed for the sensors and also somewhere to download the data. Version 1 of my webpage can be found here. It definitely needs a bit more work but it currently shows data from the last three days and will soon have a way of downloading the data directly.

Whilst we’re in the calibration stage the data might look a little strange but I’ll be putting updates on the webpage regularly and will blog when the sensor is installed in the school and is collecting data. In the next few weeks I’m planning to visit the school that I am working with to decide on a deployment location with the pupils. Both the school and I want the pupils involved in the science as much as possible and so they will be helping me to pick the best location for the sensor, to install the sensor, to take measurements and then to analyse it. We’re hoping that this level of involvement will not only help to keep the pupils engaged but will also teach them what it’s like to be real scientists.

The second facet to my work is the general public engagement aspect. I’m hoping to engage with members of the public who live or work close to the monitoring site to make them aware of the air that they breathe. This will probably start with the parents of the pupils involved in the project but will hopefully expand from there.

I’ve definitely reached an exciting point in my project now so watch out for updates…

An Update on my Panton Fellowship

- January 8, 2014 in Panton Fellowships, Panton Principles

So as month four of my Fellowship begins it’s time to recap and reflect on what I’ve done so far and what’s left for me to still do…

Over the last three months I’ve met and spoken to lots of interesting people, the world of open science/open data is very new to me and so making these contacts has been invaluable.

So what else have I managed to achieve? A lot of the first few months was spent sourcing the right sensors for this project and then getiting them to work. As of the week before Christmas I have a working sensor which now needs calibrating and then it’s time for it to be deployed (yippee!).  I’ve been working with an MChem student and other colleagues on a calibration plan which can be used, not only for my sensors, but for the large selection of different ones we are now building up. We’re planning to run calibrations this month and then install the sensor in the first school in February.

As I’ve mentioned before, the sensors final destination will be at a school in Leicester and so I have also been in contact with potential schools and have had a great response. The first school I’ll be working with is based just outside of Leicester and they are as excited as me about this project. We’re planning some introductory sessions for the school, outlining the project to pupils and then some data analysis sessions every term to look at the data with pupils and get them really thinking about what they are measuring. Not only will this be a great way of teaching them about air quality issues but will also reinforce certain areas of the curriculum too.

Alongside of this I have been involved in the development of some “homemade” air quality sensors which we are hoping to deploy in Leicester this year.  This design is looking to be far cheaper than any currently on the market and the first prototype will be ready for testing next week.

So it’s been a busy few months I’ve passed my PhD viva, started a new job and my Panton Fellowship but it’s been great and I’m really looking forward to see what the next three will have in store.

My previous blog posts can also been found on the links below:


Citizen Science Project for Air Quality Measurements

- December 11, 2013 in External Meetings, Panton Fellowships, Panton Principles


Chemistry themed lunch!

I have spent the last two days at a meeting run by the Automation and Analytical Management Group (AAMG) of the Royal Society of Chemistry.  As well as being a lovely meeting location (the RSC building Burlington house isn’t your average conference centre- dessert was served in beakers and the rooms are beautiful) the meeting itself has been very interesting.

With topics of talks ranging from new air quality monitoring techniques to the latest deployment of networks of sensors to exciting new citizen science projects and the future of air quality monitoring.

The iSPEX add-on being used to measure aerosol properties

The iSPEX add-on being used to measure aerosol properties

It was this final topic that really caught my attention, a project called iSPEX originating in the Netherlands.  iSPEX is an add-on for your iPhone which allows the user to take measurements of the properties of aerosols. This project is currently being piloted in the Netherlands and has had some great success. On the first national iSPEX measurement day more than 5000 measurements were collected all over the Netherlands. This brilliant response shows the interest that can be generated by citizen science air quality projects.

I personally cannot wait for this project to be extended to other countries as well because I think it’s gadgets like this that really will start to make some headway towards increasing public interest in Air Quality.

Other projects discussed included installing a large network of low-cost air quality sensors at Heathrow airport and another project from Leicester where air quality outreach is also being pushed through funding from the RSC. Overall a very positive meeting demonstrating the interest in networks of monitors and citizen science concepts.

My First Month as a Panton Fellow

- November 1, 2013 in Panton Fellowships

So I’ve been a Panton Fellow for one month now and what have I managed to acheive?  If you missed my last blog and aren’t really aware of what the aims of my fellowship are please take a look at it. The obvious first step for my fellowship was to order one of the air quality sensors that I am planning to use in schools. I have opted for a plug and play sensor in the end which will measure nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone, carbon monoxide and noise and automatically uploads the data to the web through a GPRS module. Hopefully this will be delivered in the next couple of weeks and I can start collecting some data!

Other than ordering my sensor I have been getting to know a few people within OKF and we’ve been throwing some interesting ideas around regarding open data, crowdsourcing and air quality. After a great first meeting with one of the Panton founders Peter Murray-Rust (PMR) I have really started to consider the options for open science and air quality. I am a strong believer that air quality data should be made more freely available to everyone because, let’s face it, it affects everyone. The air we breath can have such a marked impact on peoples lives- especially those who already have respiratory problems and I think it is only when we make this data available and increase awareness of the issue that we will start to see behavioural changes in society.

One of the issues that PMR, my colleagues and I discussed was whether high volumes of relatively insensitive data would be more benficial than the current situation where we have a small number of very accurate sensors taking measurements of air quality. At Leicester the Air Quality Group is doing some interesting work on this currently. We have a project underway which is looking to design a new, cheap and easy to make air quality instrument with the aim of eventually making the design open source. There are some current options available which have attempted to acheive this but the sensors which have been used are often very limited in terms of data quality. Our plan is to make something that can be of scientific value whilst also being accessible for anyone with an interest in air quality. Imagine if we could make a sensor which was cheap and easy enough to make that there were hundreds installed in homes, schools and businesses across a city- the benefits of this would be huge! This project is still in the very early stages of development but I’m really excited about it and am hoping that the contacts I make through this fellowship will help to make it a success.

So that’s a very brief update on my progress in the first month, hopefully in the next month I will finally get my hands on some sensors and actually start collecting data! If you have any questions about the project or would like more details about my fellowship in general then please do contact me.



A quick hello from a Panton Fellow…

- October 3, 2013 in Panton Fellowships, Panton Principles

Hi everyone my name is Rosie Graves and I am one of the newly appointed Panton Fellows– yay! I am really excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to start telling you all about what I’ve been up to, but first things first let me tell you about what I’m planning to do this year.

Working hard on a rooftop in Italy!

Working hard on a rooftop in Italy!

My background is in developing and using new techniques for air quality monitoring in urban environments, I have just submitted my PhD at The University of Leicester on this last week!! My PhD took me to some exciting places including Bologna in Italy but for my fellowship I will be staying closer to home. During my PhD I was heavily involved in public engagement and outreach projects, the most recent of which was the C4C project.  This project entailed setting up networks of primary schools across three UK cities (Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester) to collect high spatial resolution rainfall data.  This project was hugely successful with a great response from students and teachers and is what my Panton Fellowship will build on.

As a Panton Fellow I am planning to install affordable air quality sensors in three primary schools across Leicestershire. The data  I collect at these schools will be made publicly accessible on a webpage along with other sources of air quality data. This webpage will be designed to be a useful teaching resource for the schools as well as of general interest for local residents. I also plan to blog and tweet regularly about my latest results- watch this space!

I think that air quality is a prime candidate for a project using open data owing to the huge impact that poor air quality can have on the public. It is estimated that poor air quality cost €800bn within the European Union in the year 2000 (Brandt. 2013). With an increasing global population and urbanisation this figure is likely to continue to rise without public behavioural change and successful implementation of mitigation strategies. Despite the huge health and economic impacts of poor air quality it remains an issue with very low public understanding. For mitigation strategies to be effective policy makers need support from the tax payers and thus, dissemination of information relating to air quality needs to improve. Hence, access to and the promotion of open air quality data and education through outreach activities are vital in order to enhance public understanding of this issue and lead to improvements in air quality. I am particularly eager that school children should have more access to open data as it is only through exposure to science that we can inspire them to study it further and encourage better global governance of environmental issues by future generations.

So, that’s about all for now, I can’t wait to get started and am really excited about the next year. If you want any more information or to get involved in some way please feel free to contact me.