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Photography by Ella Chester

Alice Larkin (nee Bows) is Vice-Dean and Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester and a Professor in Climate Science and Energy Policy as part of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Born in Bury in 1974, Alice attended St Gabriel’s RC High School in the town before studying astrophysics at the University of Leeds, graduating in 1996. She went on to complete her PhD in climate modelling at Imperial College. Alice returned to academia in 2003 joining the interdisciplinary Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester.

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Professor Alice Larkin

Her broad research interests revolve around energy systems and the transition to a low carbon economy. In addition to a focus on emission budgets for decarbonistaion, Alice’s core research has been on international transportation, specifically aviation and shipping.

 

She became part of the Tyndall Manchester team developing an energy scenario tool in 2005, which allowed them to build low-carbon energy scenarios. She was also involved in the creation of the Climate Change Act 2008. Alice was appointed a lecturer in 2008 and became Director of Tyndall Manchester between 2013 and 2016.

Manchester was at the heart of the industrial revolution, and while this has brought huge benefits to many around the world, we now know it spawned one of society’s greatest challenges – climate change. So it is particularly fitting that researchers in the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester like myself are helping to tackle climate change through research, innovation and engagement with civil society, industry and policy stakeholders.   

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Alice became a Professor of Climate Science & Energy Policy at the University of Manchester in 2015. She delivered a highly acclaimed Ted Talk in 2015 entitled Climate Change is Happening, Here's How We Adapt. The talk considered the reality of climate change and the fate of a world where wealthy nations are not stepping up to their responsibilities. In 2016 she was awarded 'Researcher of the Year' by the University of Manchester.

In 2017, Alice was appointed to Head of the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester, and in 2019 became Vice-Dean and Head of the School of Engineering following a University of Manchester Faculty restructure.

Her current role within the University of Manchester is providing an opportunity to further expand her research interests into the decarbonisation challenges within Universities.

 

Alice avoids flying as she believes that climate change experts can influence change by being role models in curbing aviation demand.

Ted Talk - 'Climate Change is Happening, Here's How We Adapt'

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Castlefield Basin - Alice's choice of location

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The industrial revolution started in Manchester and is captured visually in the landscape in Castlefield. This led to a rapid expansion of fossil fuel consumption that in turn began the rise of human induced atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases. This is now known to have warmed the planet, so ways to manage the ongoing rise in CO2 is what my research focuses on. It is fitting that with Manchester spawning the industrial revolution, and as a result, climate change, that some of the people of Manchester, such as myself, now need to work on developing solutions to tackle this grand societal challenge. Furthermore, my own area of work focuses on decarbonising transport, especially air and sea transport, and again Castlefield visually captures many modes of transport in one small geographical area.

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Castlefield has connections to both my personal family history and to the reason I am doing the job I’m doing in terms of tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

Many of my ancestors on my dad’s side of the family came from Ireland to Manchester & Salford during the mid 1800s. They lived in and around central Manchester – near Regents Road (Coronation St), Ancoats, Hampson St, Salford St Philips etc. – and worked in Manchester and Salford’s cotton mills which grew as a result of Manchester’s geography, transport investments, climate, access to cheap labour (like my ancestors) and entrepreneurs. Castlefield is in the middle of many of the areas where they lived, and is a visible example of Manchester’s industrial heritage with factories now used for living, and canals still used for transport. I feel that it captures some sense of the history of my family in a way that I can visualise.

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Castlefield Basin

THE SHOOT: Castlefield Basin, Manchester

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Student reflection: Ella Chester

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Tuesday’s photoshoot involved photographing Manchester University’s Professor Alice Larkin. Alice’s work is focused on Climate Science and Engineering which made the dramatic backdrop of Castlefield Basin, a fitting location.

During the shoot, I made good use of the plethora of backgrounds at my disposal to give me a wide variety of images. From towering bridges above carrying Manchester’s travel network to the many canal routes all interconnecting at this location, Castlefield is a true example of the scale and impact of Manchester’s industrial past. Mid shoot, Alice explained about her important research on the effect of travel on climate change and the solutions needed for the future. The technical aspect of the photography was easy to manage as there was no harsh light, allowing the shoot to feel natural and authentic and ‘true to its surroundings’.

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Alice & Ella

Alice was friendly and co-operative and made my first solo shoot enjoyable. The fundamental research that she conducts makes Professor Alice Larkin a worthy member of the Greater Mancunians collective.

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