Emily Connolly

Emily works for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in the Atmosphere and Local Environment Programme, where she provides scientific support for air quality policy. She began her career studying chemistry at the University of Leeds which included a Masters project in atmospheric chemistry. She then worked as an air quality consultant with Faber Maunsell (now AECOM) for a number of years before undertaking a secondment to the Carbon Trust. In May 2009 she applied to Defra and began working in her current post as a Senior Scientific Advisor.

Currently Emily’s main roles and responsibilities in Defra are:

  • Managing the UK’s statutory air quality monitoring network (the Automatic Urban and Rural Network) and being responsible for reporting to the European Commission on ambient air quality;
  • Contract management, procurement, risk management and asset management;
  • Managing support for Local Air Quality Management, including the Helpdesk, websites and report appraisal services;
  • Undertaking a strategic review of Defra’s air quality modeling capability; and
  • She is also currently working on the UK’s time extension notification for nitrogen dioxide which will be sent to the European Commission next year.

Emily became a member of the IES at the same time she joined the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM), as she was seeking career development support for environmental, specifically air quality, professionals.

“The IAQM provides a voice and a focal point for air quality professionals, representing their view points, encouraging best practice and creating development opportunities. Contact with and membership of the IAQM allows me to be up to date with technical air quality issues and gives me access to innovation within the industry. The IES keeps me up to date with the wider industry and provides networking opportunities. I have been a committee member of the IAQM for two years and continue to play an active role in both.”

Working in the Atmosphere and Local Environment Programme is challenging as it is often public-facing, and requires a blend of detailed scientific content and policy application. Emily particularly enjoys undertaking project management and at present she manages contracts totalling around £24 million. She manages a variety of work – a mix of research projects and major parts of the UK’s statutory air quality evidence base. Science communication plays a key part in her job – communicating with the public, policy makers, consultants, academics and the European Commission and this is something which has always appealed to her. Having worked previously as a consultant in the air quality community she is enjoying her role in policy development and having an opportunity to learn about how change is brought about through Government. The public sector has provided a different set of opportunities to those the private sector did previously and so she is still learning something new every day. In the future Emily intends to continue working as an environmental scientist in an industry which she is passionate about, using her skills as a scientist and as a project manager to improve the built and natural environment around her.

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