University of Nottingham Ningbo China
Research and Business
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Inspiring people

May Tan-Mullins
Mitigating the impact of climate change
Director of the Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies
Can you explain your research?

I’m really a political ecologist, looking at how politics determine the use of the environment. A lot of my work relates to climate and energy and China as a rising power and its role in African development. One research strand is the rise of the smart eco city. With five country cases and eight city studies – four in Europe and four in China - we examine how countries use technology to enhance the urbanisation process and to mitigate the impact of climate change.

A second strand of my work is to help communities alleviate poverty, particularly in a post-disaster context. A current three-year case study is set in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda. I work with affected communities to rebuild their livelihoods through resilience strategies.

What are some of the collaborations you are involved in?

I work with many universities in Europe, the US, Australia and Singapore. More importantly, I have close links with international organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme, in addition to local and national governments in China and Africa.

I also work with non-governmental organisations such as the International Rivers Network. Communities are the most important stakeholders to engage. Their strategy feedback goes on to inform the government policies I work on.

What can students expect when they come to the University of Nottingham Ningbo China?
That’s an interesting question. I would advise students to hold on to their seats because it’s going to be a fun ride. UNNC is a totally immersive experience - it’s an English education but it’s a whole new intercultural experience from the food, to the language, to the students and friends you will meet.
Why did you join the University of Nottingham Ningbo China?
We decided to come to Ningbo nine years ago. At the time, UNNC was the first Sino-foreign university in the world and it was breaking new ground. As a researcher who studies China my case studies are now on my door step; I'm in the thick of the action and that is what fuels my passion as an academic.
The reason I’m doing research is my passion for people and how we can improve each other’s lives.
What inspired you to pursue your area of research?
I don’t work with rats, machines or computer; the reason I’m doing research is my passion for people and how we can improve each other’s lives. If you look at my research, it makes huge impacts, especially for the most vulnerable and most marginalised communities in the world.
What other research excites you?
Increasingly I'm moving into interdisciplinary research. Not just within social sciences, more importantly engaging health sciences as well. One priority at UNNC sees doctors and nurses, computer scientists and information systems specialists, working together with local government, on big data projects to manage China's healthcare system. My involvement is on policy recommendations and how all this research could feed into national government policies.