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Veronika Schröpfer is from Germany and lives in Belgium. She was awarded a PhD studentship by the EPSRC and Oxford Brookes University and completed her PhD in March 2014.
I decided to do my PhD at Oxford Brookes University as they offered a scholarship in my exact area of research interest. I was awarded a three-year PhD studentship, by the EPSRC and Oxford Brookes University, in October 2009.
Before joining Oxford Brookes, I graduated from the University of Applied Sciences in Oldenburg in Germany, with a MEng in Real Estate Economics and Facilities Management (2007), and the University of Applied Sciences in Heidelberg with a Diploma in Architecture (2004). I had work experience in several architecture offices in Germany, Spain and the USA and then worked in Corporate Real Estate Management for Bosch Security Systems in Munich, before becoming a Consultant on industrial assets for Jones Lang LaSalle in Frankfurt.
My research looked at how to transfer the knowledge on building sustainably between all participants, including the builders, in a sustainable office construction project, delivering office buildings to sustainable building certificate standards (BREEAM and DGNB). The focus was to find out how the different project participants share the knowledge on how to build sustainably with each other, and accordingly determine ways of enhancement. In particular, I looked at the social network between the project participants and how this affects their knowledge exchange, as one of the main barriers preventing the built environment shifting towards a green industry standard is the diffusion of knowledge on how to build sustainably.
I used social network analyses and compared projects in Germany with similar projects in the UK. It will make a difference in the real world in lots of ways: firstly, I developed a framework that can be used to improve the transfer of knowledge in project environments; secondly, I disseminated the results to the research participants, presented the results at two conferences and published a journal paper; and finally, I now use the results in my job, to improve the transfer of knowledge on sustainable construction among European architects (all 600,000 of them!)
The biggest highlight is the community of PhD students within the area of the built environment - the four departments (Real Estate, Construction, Architecture and Planning) are very close and have an international flavour and are just a great bunch of people. The support that the University offers to international students is also really good, including language support and social and networking events. The most challenging time was after my third year when my scholarship ended but the PhD wasn't quite finished.
I moved to Brussels (which is an amazing city!) at the beginning of March 2014, where I started work as a Project Officer at Architects' Council of Europe (ACE). I am representing the European architects in EU funded research projects on sustainable construction, supporting the projects with my expertise and disseminating the results to our member organisations - so all quite exciting and interesting. To see where EU funding goes and to ensure European SMEs get their share is now more important than ever. I am proud to be a part of this.