Meet Sheen Mclean Cabañeros, Newton Fund grant awardee.

Research topic: Modelling of Air Pollution levels in the Philippines using artificial Neural Networks and stochastic simulation technique for accurate air quality forecasts

Host institution / UK university: University of Sheffield

Home institution: University of Santo Tomas

Degree programme: PhD Mechanical Engineering

Describe your PhD research in layman’s terms.

Our project aims to develop a forecasting model that is able to characterise with high temporal and spatial resolution the concentration levels of key air pollutants such as NO2 and particulate matters in urbanised areas. This is achieved by employing the combined capabilities of state-of-the-art machine learning and geostatistical techniques. The proposed modelling framework is expected to offer more flexible, efficient and accurate results than known traditional techniques.

What is the relevance of your study to the economic development, welfare and poverty issues in the Philippines?

Studies suggest that poor air quality is a major incremental drain on the national economy due to premature death, chronic illnesses, and forest and crop yield damage. With the worsening air quality in urbanised areas including Metro Manila, commuters who get stuck on the road for hours and endure long lines to catch a ride in public transportation are exposed to various kinds of air pollutants. These situations make the sensitive members of the public, e.g. old people, children, and those with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, more vulnerable to developing physiological problems. The proposed project could provide a parsimonious early-warning mechanism that enables the public to plan their activities within the day or week in advance to reduce their exposure from potential air pollution episodes.

How do you envision your UK education can contribute to your future career as a researcher?

While at the University of Sheffield and in the UK, in general, my goal is to gain more practical knowledge and experience in the field of environmetrics and high performance computing, coupled with a better understanding of modelling phenomena within urban environments. Moreover, I would like to widen my research network by collaborating and working closely with key players in my field. In doing so, I would be able to create sustainable links between the researchers from the UK and the Philippines even after I complete my PhD.

How has the commitment of the UK in science and technology influence your decision in choosing the Newton Fund?

The UK is internationally known for its immense commitment in advancing science and technology, with most of its universities ranking highest in university rankings worldwide. Its dedication to quality education and research is truly unrivalled. When I was given the opportunity to pursue my higher education in one of the most prestigious universities in the UK, I did not think any further.