skip to content



Every Summer, the Environment & Energy section at the University of Cambridge hosts several interns, as part of the University’s ‘Living Laboratory for Sustainability’, which aims to use academic and student expertise to inform the University’s estate and operations. This Summer, we welcomed Robyn Topper into our team to work on an exciting project using mapping to examine how and where staff commute to the University. Here, Robyn tells us more about her project:

“This Summer I have spent 8 weeks in the Transport Team, part of the University’s Environment and Energy section which is within Estate Management. I’ve been working on a project that uses ArcGIS Pro (a type of Geographic Information System, or GIS) to map the spatial distribution of anonymised staff home and work postcodes. The output of this has been a 12,000-word report, with over 40 bespoke maps and accompanying tables and graphs. I’ve had the freedom to work on whatever parts of the data interest me most, investigating the potential for spatial and quantitative analysis based on sources like the annual Travel Survey (which details mode share and reasoning) and a recent walking and cycling facilities report".

Robyn's work has identified a whole host of interesting insights into the travel of staff to and from their workplaces, which will be used to feed into development of future transport initiatives. But Robyn has also found the internship rewarding in itself. She tells us:

"Working on this project has massively progressed my GIS skills, from having only used QGIS in coursework for my degree, to using ArcGIS and its ‘network analysis tool’ which adds a whole host of new functionality. I’ve also had the opportunity to go to London to attend a workshop on the use of the Propensity to Cycle Tool at the University of Westminster. The tool has been developed as a free method of strategic planning for councils and universities looking to implement cycling infrastructure where the greatest potential for change is."

What else did Robyn enjoy about her internship?

"One of my favourite parts of working in Greenwich House has been the people. I’ve felt comfortable working here from my first week and that’s almost entirely down to the supportive atmosphere, being surrounded by people who have similar interests and passions. I’ve also really enjoyed living in Cambridge out of term-time; it has allowed me to appreciate not only how beautiful a city it is (especially in Summer!) but also, through the work I’ve done, see beyond the University to the people that live here, their livelihoods and how this relates to the city’s infrastructure."

Robyn joins the Environment & Energy section for a team social on the Cam!

"After having done two courseworks in my 2nd year of my Geography degree based in Cambridge, this has all contributed to convincing me that it is the right location for my undergraduate dissertation which I’ll be coming in September to research. The dissertation shall focus on the provision of sustainable transport provision for staff and how existing inequalities have the potential to be affected by these infrastructural changes." 

What would Robyn say to other students considering an internship?

"Altogether, I’ve had a fantastic Summer working in Environment and Energy and would thoroughly recommend it to any students looking for experience in the field of environmental sustainability!”

If you are interested in applying for an internship, sign up to the University’s sustainability newsletter or follow us on Twitter @CambridgeSust or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.