Wednesday 22nd November 2023

Celebrating Academic Achievements

As calforseaden continue to champion the invaluable contributions of women in housing and construction, they highlight the academic accomplishment of Dr. Huda Elsherif.

Celebrating Academic Achievements

calfordseadenAs we continue to champion the invaluable contributions of women in housing and construction, we would like to highlight the academic accomplishment of Dr. Huda Elsherif.

Huda, Intermediate Sustainability Consultant at calfordseaden, passed her PhD Viva examination at the University of Kent in August 2023. Huda joined calfordseaden in May 2023, shortly after completing her research. Her thesis titled ‘The optimised mixed-mode building: Countering AC reliance by re-synchronising the thermal environment with occupant lifestyles in Khartoum’ explored the usage of air conditioning and how it relates to buildings in Sudan. Huda discusses her research, the challenges she overcame during her research, and her life at calfordseaden.

After completing my Master’s degree in 2018, I did not plan on continuing my academic journey, but I was convinced by my professor to start a PhD. The aim of my research was to provide a framework and precedent for future sustainable projects. I was inspired to closely examine air conditioning reliance in Sudan and discover if other alternatives were available and more suitable for use in modern buildings.

After travelling to Sudan and carrying out field work, I focused on the social technical angle to explore how the people in Sudan have changed and the recent change in their expectations of life. Traditionally, there has been a general acceptance within the older generation that you have to adjust your position within the household in order to deal with the hot climate. However, I discovered that the younger generation did not follow this lifestyle and preferred to have increased privacy, therefore being more reliant on air conditioning units. I found that you cannot alter the younger generation’s tendencies and to combat this through making the areas increasingly energy efficient. This was crucial as the people of Sudan had to deal with frequent power cuts, which could last up to eight hours a day.

During my PhD project, there were multi challenges I had to overcome. There were complications regarding the funding of the project, which were thankfully resolved by the University of Kent. I also gave birth halfway through the project, which provided further motivation to complete my research. To ensure my research was accessible for all audiences, I would read my work to my younger sister to test the readability of the project for people not within the field.

Sudan was suffering from effects of the pandemic and endured political instability, which made the research very difficult to carry out. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to stay in the country for longer periods of time than originally planned. As well as this, I was unable to leave my house at times and had to travel between the UK and Sudan during significantly tight windows of opportunity.

Quitting was never an option; I recognised the funding was my chance to do something useful for my country. The key reason for why people fail their PhD is not finishing and funding issues and I would recommend for people considering whether to complete a PhD to make sure it meets your long-term ambitions.

Whilst carrying out my research, I held regular workshops for architects, both online and face-to-face. I wrote a guide for architects and how they can implement sustainable design, which I plan to refine and publish for free.

After completing my PhD, I had a strong desire to work in the UK, as this would allow myself to work on projects where I could use more advanced equipment. Since joining calfordseaden, I have not looked back. Working at calfordseaden provides me with the creative freedom that I can apply to my work as well as stability as a mother. I thrive in the happy and inclusive environment provided at calfordseaden and work on the energy and thermal comfort side of the industry. I am able to transfer some of the skills I gained from my PhD to my day-to-day work.

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