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Research Experience Placements: Ella Oakley Slater

Ella worked with a team that included Cat Scott, Hannah Walker and Anna Gugan on a project entitled ‘Assessing the benefits of trees outside woodlands using earth observations

What are you studying?
I study BSc Geography at The University of Edinburgh and I am going into my 4th and final year.

Tell us a bit about the project you have been working on this summer?
My project focuses on identifying and analysing the different types of trees outside of woodlands,
for example single trees or groups of trees, as this information is currently not known across Leeds.
This is important to research as different types of trees can have different heights and areas, and
therefore provide different ecosystem benefits. Over the past seven weeks I have been using remote sensing data to categorize tree typologies and to analyse height and area of trees across these typologies. I have also compared tree typologies across greenspace and non-greenspace, public and private greenspace, and rural and urban areas in Leeds, to see if typologies vary across different landcovers. For this project I have been using spatial analysis tools in ArcGIS Pro, and generated statistics and maps of my results.

ArcGIS Pro image showing categorization of typologies across canopy polygons and tree points

What new skills have you learned while doing this internship?
Over the course of this internship, I have hugely developed my computational skills in ArcGIS Pro. I
had not contentiously worked with such a big data set before, so I have learned a lot about the
importance of data management, handling, and processing. Working independently on ArcGIS Pro
has made me a better problem solver, and I am more confident experimenting with different
processes and data methods. I also have developed skills in interpersonal communication, for
example, asking for help when I need it, and verbally explaining difficult data problems.

How have you found working with your research team?
I have found working with my research team enjoyable, insightful, and rewarding. Having support
from Cat, Hannah, and Anna and a space to share ideas in our group really helped me progress and
find my feet in the project. Furthermore, the chance to join United Bank of Carbon (UBoC) meetings
and research talks gave me a taste of what a research career is like, and it was great to learn more
about the wider research around my project focus. Overall, it was a welcoming and inclusive environment, and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing a new research area.

What has been the highlight of the internship for you?
Discovering more about the research conducted by my supervisors and by UBoC, Forest Research
and Leeds School of Earth and Environment has been eye opening. I have really enjoyed learning
about urban tree research and a definite highlight has been the opportunity to be a part of this
research network, and to experience how this research is conducted. An overall highlight was taking part in the REP showcase towards the end of my internship; not only presenting my own research project, but also hearing about the other intern’s projects and processes across the program.

How has doing this internship changed your plans or thoughts about your future career?

As I found this research opportunity interesting and rewarding, I am considering going on to do
further research once I graduate. Being a part of the programme highlighted to me the breadth of
EO research, and I am aware of even more opportunities in this field.

You can read Ella’s full report here and also follow her on Twitter at @oakley_slater