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Katie Blythe graduates from Ulster University this summer with a BSc in Environmental Science.

Katie has always been interested in the natural world and thanks to an increased awareness of environmental issues on a both a local and global scale she has become a passionate advocate for the environment.

“I have always been interested in the idea that we can continue to develop technologies and infrastructure while protecting and conserving areas of environmental interest. Environmental Science was the perfect course for me as it covers such a wide range of environmental disciplines and there was a strong emphasis on how our skills could be applied in graduate employment."

Katie had the opportunity to hone her newfound skills through a placement year with the infrastructure consulting firm AECOM.

“My placement really complimented my degree and I could apply my skills learnt at university to the workplace. I had the opportunity to work with experienced professionals and gained confidence in both myself and my work ability. I had to finish my placement at home due to the pandemic but I still felt fully supported to continue my learning.”

The pandemic also provided inspiration for Katie’s dissertation, in which she focused on air quality and the potential positive effects of COVID-19 on the environment due to less traffic on the roads."

“During my placement year I carried out air quality monitoring as part of Environmental Impact Assessments, which really peaked my interest in Air quality. My dissertation research focused on nitrogen dioxide which is a pollutant produced by motorised transport. I found there was a clear decrease in these air pollutant levels due to the reduction in traffic during the Covid-19 travel restrictions. It was a great opportunity to study this unique situation during the pandemic and it showed just how much of an impact human activity can have on air quality. It is so important for us to study air quality as long term exposure to many air pollutants can cause adverse health effects.”

Katie thoroughly enjoyed her four years at Ulster, with one highlight being a field trip to the Algarve in her second year,

“Every day focused on a different aspect of environmental research and it was great to experience hands on field work in a different country with unique ecosystems."

After graduation Katie is looking forward to starting her career as a Graduate Environmental Consultant with AECOM. She also plans to continue her studies at Ulster, starting an MSc in Environmental Management in September.