Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature


Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Dr Kirsten McEwan

Kirsten has had busy few months finalising and promoting the Shmapped app.  Here, we hear from Kirsten about her research background, and what has brought her to the University of Derby and the IWUN project. 

I spent 8 years as a research psychologist working in a mental health unit looking at compassion focused therapy before I moved to Cardiff where I worked for 4 years as research consultant in clinical trials unit.  I have always had an interest in nature from crawling around in long grass as a child looking at insects, but this really blossomed in Cardiff where regular volunteer trips to Flat Holm island working on the gull colony and being an active member of the Cardiff conservation volunteers turned me into a nature addict!

I developed my own project in the evenings working with Cardiff Council to assess the health and wellbeing benefits of greening up a deprived urban area (Greener Grangetown), this evolved into a citizen science project where I worked with a group of other researchers to train residents in how to collect data for us on biodiversity, air pollution, noise pollution, heat island effects. Whilst working at Cardiff the IWUN bid was successful and I made the scary decision to move back inland (away from my beloved gulls) to work on the project as I felt it was brilliant and really important research that could really benefit humans and the natural world.

I certainly feel that being in nature is crucial to my wellbeing (never happier than when working with seabirds and getting pooed on!) and that’s why innovative projects like Shmapped are so important for connecting others with nature.