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Kayla Schulte's research focuses on how new tools and technologies, including portable sensors, as well as smartphone and web-based apps, are used to understand and communicate air quality. She aims to deliver new insights into how these technologies transform experiences, perceptions, and behaviours around air pollution.

Kayla is also affiliated with the International Max Planck School for Population, Health, and Data Science. Her doctoral project, supervised by Professor Melinda Mills and Dr Ridhi Kashyap, is funded by the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science (LCDS).

Why is Oxford a good place to work in research related to environmental challenges? 

During my time at Oxford I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by academics who are not only brilliant and creative intellectuals, but who are bold and inspire an atmosphere of healthy criticism. The ability to be constructively critical of ideas and policies, especially if they are deeply engrained, is essential for developing innovative research avenues that can support lasting approaches for decreasing environmental degradation and slowing climate change. 

What is the biggest environmental challenge facing the planet right now? 

The pervasive culture of consumption and obsession with accumulating excess capital and materials. We must make a strong effort to shift the status quo away from expecting limitless access to plastic, meat, carbon-intensive travel, and other consumables that are scientifically proven to be detrimental to our global environment.  

Despite the challenges, are you optimistic about our future?   

Yes I am optimistic, however there is much work to be done. Researchers, policy actors, social media stars, community leaders and everyone in between must work together, support one another, and be prepared for uphill battles. I know it's cliché, I can't help but think of a quote from Harry Potter by Dumbledore: “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.

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