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Opening the doors to a career in academia

Martina Rotolo joined LSE to study for an MSc in Regional and Urban Planning Studies. She explains how serving as Oram Fellow after her graduation inspired her to pursue a career in academia.

After completing my master’s in 2020, I was awarded an Oram Research Fellowship to work with Nancy Holman on a research project in collaboration with the Town and Country Planning Association.

The project explored the aspirations of English residents for their future home in terms of their health and wellbeing needs, gaining insights into their attitudes towards securing high quality homes. I was involved in the organisation of focus groups and survey distribution, and the work I carried out enabled me to expand my knowledge on the application of qualitative research methods to analyse people’s housing aspirations.

I'm extremely grateful to Richard Oram for his generosity in allowing me the opportunity to conduct research for one year as an Oram Fellow. It was this experience that convinced me to pursue an academic and research career.

I am currently studying for a PhD at UCL Bartlett School of Planning. My PhD research explores whether food markets in London can still be considered inclusive spaces where average Londoners can find healthier and more affordable food, or whether they have now turned into gentrified food halls and touristic attractions.

In the past year, I have also been working on a research project which investigates technological and social adaptation to COVID-19, looking at food supply for vulnerable urban groups in Stockholm, Seoul, Sydney, London, and Wuhan.

I am now working on a series of publications on food access in cities, urban governance, and the built environment. The article 'Disrupting from the Ground Up: community-led and place-based food governance in London during COVID-19', which I co-wrote with Dr Catalina Turcu, has just been published in the Urban Governance Journal. I hope that this work can make a positive impact on the way we address food security in our cities.

Martina Rotolo (MSc Regional and Urban Planning Studies 2020)