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Centre for Sustainable Development

Est 2000 - home of the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

Studying at Cambridge


Alice Moncaster

Alice Moncaster (MA (Cantab) MSc PhD CEng MICE) is a lecturer in the Department of Engineering, and the Deputy Director of the IDBE postgraduate Masters' course. She is a Fellow and Director of Studies of Newnham College. Email:

Dr Moncaster gained her first degree in engineering from Cambridge, then moved to the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre at Bristol University to investigate soil-structure interaction through large and small-scale laboratory experiments, before spending the next ten years working in industry as a civil and structural design engineer.  In 2007 she was offered an EPSRC doctoral grant at the highly interdisciplinary School of Environmental Sciences at UEA to follow her increasing interest in the sustainable development of the built environment. With the insights offered by her social science supervisors combined with her own experience of the sector she developed a unique socio-technical interpretation of the construction of the built environment.  

Just after starting the PhD Alice was also offered a post as a researcher at the Centre for Sustainable Development at Cambridge, and so for a while was based in two universities.  She has been here ever since, and now leads a research group ‘CUBES’ within the Centre. 

Her research interests and foci include:

  • The achievement of rapid reduction of GHG emissions from the built environment, through understanding and reducing the whole life (cradle to cradle) environmental impacts of buildings;
  • Resilience and adaptation to future climates, particularly in relation to growing urbanisation and the impact that has on flood risk;
  • Maximising low carbon energy production within urban environments; and
  • Understanding the social, economic and political frameworks within which our design decisions, and our aims to reduce our impact on the environment, are made.

Alice is currently the UK participant on the International Energy Agency Annex 57 ( ), a five year (2012-2016)  multi-national project led by Japan, and the Principal Investigator for two further research projects: the EPSRC-funded Implementing whole life carbon in buildings, an industry/academia collaboration with Sturgis, Arup, Atkins, SBP and the RICS; and Operational performance of ventilated façades in Colombia funded as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund.   

She is principal supervisor for four PhD students:

  • Chris Seeley, working on Sustainability of commercial office buildings;
  • Hannah Baker, on Decision analysis for demolition or adaptation of existing buildings on brownfield sites:
  • Juan Canavera-Herrera, on Road infrastructure resilience to climate change induced flooding in Colombia; and
  • Wei Zhou on Urban energy consumption and policy instruments in China; 

and she is part of the supervisory teams for four more:

  • Christiana Smyrilli looking at Infrastructure and gendered decisions in developing countries;
  • Taskeen Adam on The impact of technology on education in Sub-Saharan Africa;
  • Iason Pelekis on Soil-Structure Interaction for Low Damage Seismic Rocking Systems; and
  • Chris Marien on District heating systems in social housing stock. 

Through the IDBE Alice has also successfully supervised a number of interesting interdisciplinary masters dissertations.