Air Quality and Emissions Conference features SAQN members

13 – 14 October, online

AQE is a focused meeting for Air Quality and Emission Monitoring professionals who are looking for the latest product solutions, technical advice, methods and applications to measure, test and analyse Air Quality and Emissions. The conference programme features many faces from the SAQN, including Professor Rod Jones, Professor Rob Kinnersley, Dr David Green and the network’s Principal Investigator, Dr Sarah Moller.

Held online this year, the event is free and offers access to over 60 hours of unique content from the conference, seminar and training presentations which will also be available for registered attendees to reference and revisit up to 6 months after the event. Over 100 instrument and service suppliers will be exhibiting at the AQE virtual event, allowing participants to be the first to see new product introductions, technology innovations and live demonstrations. Product specialists will be available to discuss testing and monitoring requirements.

Topics this year include policy updates, indoor air quality, climate change and air quality, new sensor technology, modelling and innovations. Dr Sarah Moller will be sharing research from the SAQN with the conference on Day 1.

Jim Mills, SAQN Steering Group member and conference Chair outlines the themes of this year’s meeting in the short video below.

Explore the full programme and register for free on the conference website.

Lessons learned from our Collaboration Building Workshops

Collaboration Building Workshop 2021

SAQN hosted a second Collaboration Building Workshop in 2021 (14 – 25 June), using the same format as the first workshop, but with improvements identified through the review process. Here we reflect on the impact these changes had on the process. 

Launch event

We began the workshop with a brief ‘launch event’ one week before the start of the main workshop. This had several benefits:

  • Participants were introduced to the facilitators and mentors;
  • We started using Mural, allowing participants to get familiar with it and solve any technical issues in real time;
  • Participants started to meet each other, having one to one chats in Zoom breakout rooms;
  • Sharing the workshop aims and funding criteria at the start reduced the number of questions asked about funding later on in the workshop;
  • Participants had the opportunity to try out a new networking platform, ‘Wonder’, which was then used by many to host their ‘cafe time’ conversations.

Improved support for mentors

We recognised that mentors needed more support in order to give most value to the participants and to feel more engaged in the process. The two aims of this were to make mentors feel better informed about the process and their roles and to allow participants to become more familiar with mentors so that they felt comfortable asking for their support. Changes to the mentor programme were:

  • A short introductory meeting, outlining the mentor role and giving a broad overview of the process;
  • A mentor briefing session one week before the workshop, giving details of the mentors’ activities in week one;
  • Involving and introducing the mentors to the participants at the launch session;
  • Asking the mentors to lead the initial discussion activity in the first session;
  • A second mentor briefing session at the start of week two to review project ideas and give clear directions to the mentors for the remaining sessions;
  • Appointing a facilitator as ‘mentor support’, who acted as first point of contact during sessions and sent communications in between sessions;

Our mentors noted that they had appreciated the extra support they were given, and that they themselves benefited from taking part, as they could keep in touch with developments in the field of air quality, make new connections and influence the direction of research.

Improved use of online tools for facilitation

Building on our experience of running online events, we trialled using ‘SessionLab’, an event planning tool which can have multiple collaborators, and also made use of Google Docs and drive, so that all the workshop materials were accessible by the event team at any time. This had the following benefits:

  • Detailed notes on the running of the workshop were available in SessionLab and updated in real time, reducing email traffic and version control issues;
  • Notes sections in SessionLab were used to keep details of activities required between sessions (such as texts and timings of emails to participants), meaning that all team members could see and edit messages to participants, while being clear on who was responsible for each action and when it had been completed;
  • Relevant documents could be accessed and edited as needed in Google Docs throughout the event, and links to documents placed in the event plan, allowing any of the event team to access information and share it quickly and easily;
  • Planning all the activities between workshop sessions reduced the burden on the events team, as no one was having to keep all the information in their head.

Workshop highlights

We thoroughly enjoyed hosting our second workshop, and were delighted with the outcomes. These were some of our highlights:

  • We welcomed colleagues from departments of STFC that have not been extensively used in air quality research (ISIS and Central Laser Facility) and were able to fund projects making use of their technology;
  • One project was able to make use of sensors developed in a previous SAQN Scoping Study, and is developing a new piece of technology with significant commercialisation potential;
  • Having encouraged research into health aspects of air quality, we were pleased to have involvement from medical researchers, including from Public Health England, and that two of our funded projects are exploring issues around toxicology;
  • The projects teams that were not funded said they had found it a valuable experience, as they had established new collaborations, had useful feedback and been signposted to other funding sources;
  • Feedback from our participants was very positive, with most reporting that they had appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with people beyond their usual network in a friendly and encouraging environment;
  • Our workshop format has inspired another air quality network (TAPAS) to host their own Collaboration Building Workshop based on the same format.

The SAQN website is kept up to date with all the latest information and contact details for our funded projects.

This is an extract from our case study, reflecting on the lessons we learned from running two Collaboration Building Workshops.

Funding Opportunity: Applications open for Collaboration Building Workshop 2021

14 – 25 June 2021, online

Application deadline: 30 April 2021

Expand your network, collaborate with researchers from different disciplines and take the opportunity to put your research ideas into practice using STFC capabilities. We are delighted to open applications for the next SAQN Collaboration Building Workshop. 

Following the success of our first workshop, this event will be held online, making it accessible to a wider range of participants and reducing our air pollution and carbon footprint. We encourage applications from a broad interdisciplinary community and from diverse backgrounds.

The facilitated process focusses on collaboration, not competition. Past participants have said that they found the format even better than an in person event, as they had time to develop relationships with other participants and to let their research ideas evolve.

Scoping Study funds will be awarded to successful projects at the end of the workshop. There are up to five pots of maximum £8,000 to be awarded to innovative proposals for research with STFC colleagues.

Full details of the workshop, including a detailed agenda, introductory video and application form are available on the SAQN web page.

Air Quality Hub Launches for Local Authority Air Quality Professionals

The Air Quality Hub is a new, free online knowledge sharing resource for those working in the field of local air quality management. Focused on information exchange between local authority professionals, the Hub features a range of content areas related to strategy measures that local authorities can adopt, as well as more specific practitioner advice notes that focus on various aspects of air quality management planning, monitoring and enforcement. The Hub also includes a growing library of relevant case studies and a forum for direct peer to peer communication. The funding for the project is via a Defra air quality grant.

The Air Quality Hub will be officially launched on the 26th November and eligible practitioners are invited to join the Hub managers for an hour on Zoom @ 1pm to learn what it does and how it can help you on an ongoing basis. There are also lots of opportunities to help your fellow practitioners by contributing your own real-world experience and best practice advice.

If you’re working in local or national government, other national bodies or in academia and would like to join us, please email admin@airqualityhub.co.uk to receive joining instructions.

Academics and public sector professionals with a legitimate interest in air quality management can also access the site and forum, subject to specific approval. The Air Quality Hub is not currently available for commercial organisations.

The Low Emission Partnership, which developed and operates the Hub, is seeking case studies for a number of strategy areas that are currently under-represented on the Hub, and welcome ad hoc submissions or enquiries about becoming a regular content contributor.

Please contact admin@airqualityhub.co.uk for more information.

PHE Air Quality Conference: 14 – 15 October

Public Health England have opened registration for the 2020 ‘Annual UK Review Meeting on Outdoor and Indoor Air Pollution Research’ and ‘Air Quality and Public Health Stakeholder Seminar’. The meetings will take place on Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th October 2020 respectively using Microsoft Teams Live Events.

Full details of the programme and registration information can be found on the links below.

Stakeholder seminar: www.phe-events.org.uk/aqph2020

Annual meeting: www.phe-events.org.uk/airpollution20

Collaboration Building Workshop to be held online

SAQN’s Collaboration Building Workshop, which was postponed due to lockdown, will now take place online. With so much uncertainty around holding in-person events, we decided that a virtual event would be the best option.

The workshop will be run by a professional facilitator, Christine Bell from the Centre for Facilitation. Meet Christine and hear more about the workshop format in this introductory video:

Read the information sheet, selection criteria and apply to attend the workshop on our events page.

Virtual workshop, 29 September 2020: Satellite measurements of air quality and greenhouse gases: application to regulatory activities

The Environment Agency and National Centre for Earth Observation are currently delivering a JNCC Copernicus User Uptake project investigating whether the Sentinel-5P TROPOMI instrument can be used to detect methane from regulated sources. This finding of this, and other current EA work on the measurement of air pollutants by satellites, will be shared at an online workshop on 29 September 2020 (0930 – 1630). The workshop will also be an opportunity to gather and share best practice on the use of Sentinel-5P TROPOMI and other satellite air quality (AQ) and greenhouse gas (GHG) data, with a focus on regulatory activities. The event is aimed at regulators and other potential end-users of satellite data.

The content of the day will include:

  • An introduction to the TROPOMI AQ and GHG products
  • Signposting of future developments in AQ and GHG satellite capabilities
  • The Environment Agency’s experiences in developing a capability to use TROPOMI data
  • Results of a number of case studies using TROPOMI and other satellite AQ and GHG measurements
  • Opportunities for two-way discussion with an expert panel

The workshop will contain presentations from the European Space Agency, The National Centre for Earth Observation, the Environment Agency & UCL.

Registration and participation is free but you need to register via our EventBrite page to attend. The registration page contains a draft agenda for the workshop.

This workshop is an output from the Copernicus User Uptake project. which is financed by the European Commission under the FPA no.: 275/G/GRO/COPE/17/10042

Co-ordinating Research Action: Air Quality & CV-19

SAQN are pleased to be collaborating with UKIEG and AQNUK to convene an online workshop, bringing together air quality, virology, aerosol, metrology, climate, health and built environment researchers to determine the current state of knowledge on the possible interactions between air quality and COVID-19, ambient environmental conditions indoors and out, establish evidence gaps and make recommendations for a necessary rapid response and longer term research agenda. 

We’ll be hearing from the UKRI Clean Air Champions, representatives from the health community and from Defra’s Air Quality Expert Group, who will be sharing initial findings from their recent call for evidence. 

Registration is free – for the full agenda and booking form visit the event page.

Virtual Cloud Computing Workshop, 23 April

If you are interested in Cloud Computing, and would like to know more about what is going with Cloud Computing across STFC and beyond, you may also be interested in attending the one day Cloud Computing Workshop on April 23rd (9.25 – 16.30), which is being held virtually via Zoom (https://ukri.zoom.us/j/671063844). Talks will cover science projects that rely heavily on cloud compute systems, including the Jasmin Climate system, and other science projects across STFC. There will also be a talk from JISC on the Geant cloud in Europe.

The purpose of the workshop is to help join up the Science cloud computing community, and to help build knowledge and understanding of Cloud Computing capability across STFC. Consequently, as well as the formal talks, we are also expecting to hold a session where attendees can give a couple of minutes pitch about what they’re doing and if useful, ask for help from others working on similar things.

This event was originally planned to take place on site at RAL, however, as it will now be held online, there is no longer any requirement to register, please just use the Zoom link above to attend on April 23rd.

New date for Collaboration Building Workshop announced: 2-3 November 2020

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we have postponed the Collaboration Building Workshop, which was due to take place in June 2020. Our new dates are Monday 2 – Tuesday 3 November 2020. The workshop will take place at Jurys Inn, Birmingham. The venue is in easy walking distance of Birmingham New Street Station.

Full details of the workshop, including selection criteria and timelines are on our website. Applications for the workshop remain open until 1st September 2020.