Postgraduate students are being given the opportunity to expand their research horizons by spending time abroad through #DMUglobal, De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) international experience programme.
Kaie Small-Warner, a PhD student in the School of Architecture, has been at the Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH) in Sweden since 19 January, where she will continue her research until 27 June.
Over the coming months, more postgraduate researchers will spend time abroad at institutions in countries such as Germany, Romania, Malta, Spain, New Zealand, Singapore and USA.
Kaie is studying for a PhD in Sustainable Built Environment and her research focuses on using business models to improve sustainability in buildings and construction.
“I’m looking at how new buildings and renovations can be more sustainable using different business approaches” she explained.
“We have innovative technology but how do we help businesses change existing practices and how do we show them that the environmental and social elements are important as well?”
During the first year of her PhD she discovered that the Blekinge Institute of Technology was doing research with a similar focus to her so she applied for an international research funding opportunity from #DMUglobal.
Due to the way that doctoral research is funded in Sweden, Kaie said that without funding from #DMUglobal she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to collaborate internationally and take her research to the next level.
She said: “I’m really grateful for this opportunity. I wanted to collaborate with the department at BTH to improve my research methodology and also have a first-hand view of how it’s being used in academic research.
“This institution focuses on innovation and sustainability. It’s a small university and they are very specialised. The framework that I’m using in my research, called strategic sustainable development, was created here in Sweden and they use it within this department.
“All of the research projects here are done in partnership with industry or other research institutions. It’s very much focused on having an impact, which is good for my PhD data collection and gaining practical knowledge.”
Kaie, who is originally from Barbados, believes that there are a range of benefits to carrying out research abroad.
She said: “Being able to make connections is really important, so this international collaboration will be very useful both for me and the university as a whole.
“There are many different elements to it. Apart from experiencing PhD research in a different environment in a different country, there’s also a different culture, different opportunities and making new friends.
“As well as the professional and research benefits, being able to go abroad is a great opportunity for personal growth.”