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Dr Jennifer Roberts

Knowledge Exchange Associate

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Personal statement

Jen is a researcher working in the growing interdisciplinary field of social and environmental risk of energy systems.

As a geologist, Jen uses her technical background to address research questions on the perception, assessment and communication of risk from low-carbon energy technologies. Her recent work spans from minimising the risk of leakage of engineered CO2 storage and advising appropriate monitoring strategies at these sites, the role of technical expertise on the perceived risks from new energy technologies, methods of deliberative engagement for informing decision making on energy developments, and on assessing (and minimising) the environmental impact of potential exploitation of unconventional gas in the UK.

This research informs how the necessary transition to a low-carbon energy system can be implemented in a way that is acceptable to society.

From June 2013 - Dec 2016 Jen was funded by ClimateXChange - Scotland’s Centre of Expertise on Climate Change. The centre brings together a range of researchers to provide independent advice, research and analysis on climate change and climate change policy in Scotland. She is now a faculty-funded Knowledge Exchange Research Associate. 

In addition to research, Jen assists with student supervision, and teaching on several undergraduate and masters programmes.


Can Portland cement be replaced by low-carbon alternative materials? A study on thermal properties and carbon emissions of innovative cements
Maddalena Riccardo, Roberts Jennifer J., Hamilton Andrea
Journal of Cleaner Production Vol 186, pp. 933-942, (2018)
Geochemical tracers for monitoring offshore CO2 stores
Roberts Jennifer J., Gilfillan Stuart M. V., Stalker Linda, Naylor Mark
International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control Vol 65, pp. 218-234, (2017)
Natural CO2 sites in Italy show importance of overburden geopressure, fractures and faults for CO2 storage performance and risk management
Roberts Jennifer J., Wilkinson Mark, Naylor Mark, Shipton Zoe K., Wood Rachel A., Haszeldine R. Stuart
Geological Society Special Publication Vol 458, pp. 181-211, (2017)
What have we learned about CO2 leakage from field injection tests?
Roberts Jennifer J, Stalker Linda
Energy Procedia Vol 114, pp. 5711-5731, (2017)
Experts and evidence in public decision making
Roberts Jennifer, Lightbody Ruth
Reducing the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing through design optimisation of positive displacement pumps
Josifovic Aleksandar, Roberts Jennifer J., Corney Jonathan, Davies Bruce, Shipton Zoe K.
Energy Vol 115, pp. 1216-1233, (2016)

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Professional activities

Communicating Geoscience: Building Public Interest and Promoting Inclusive Dialogue
Keynote/plenary speaker

more professional activities


Early Career Researcher International Travel Fund
Roberts, Jennifer (Principal Investigator)
Awarded £4,500 to fund a secondment to National Geosequestration Laboratory (NGL) in Perth, Australia. During this secondment, I participated as an expert mentor for the IEAGHG Summer School, assisted fieldwork, and collaborated with Dr Linda Stalker on chemical tracers for offshore CCS projects and issues around quantifying CO2 leakage.
Period 28-Nov-2015 - 19-Feb-2016
QICS2 Scoping Project: Exploring The Viability And Scientific Opportunities Of A Follow-On Marine Impact Project
Roberts, Jennifer (Principal Investigator)
A key element of risk assessment for the geological storage of CO2 offshore is the monitoring of transport of leaks from the subsurface via shallow sediments in the marine environment, including its effect on the ecosystem. In 2012, the NERC-funded QICS project constructed the first marine in situ controlled sub-seabed release facility for CO2 in the world in Ardmucknish Bay, Oban when 4.2 tonnes of CO2 was injected. There is significant international interest in this unique facility and the project provides an opportunity for the UK to consolidate its leadership in environmental monitoring and impact studies for CCS. This scoping project will explore the viability and potential scientific goals for a follow on project, with the capability of delivering useful knowledge at the start of the UK CCS commercialisation program.
Period 01-Jan-2013 - 30-Jun-2013
Emissions from land use change for UK unconventional gas developments
Roberts, Jennifer (Principal Investigator)
Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is paramount for environmental sustainability, and so any new developments must report on its estimated carbon emissions during and after construction. Energy developments are no exception. The extraction of unconventional gas, which includes Coal Bed Methane (CBM) and shale gas (SG), is currently being explored in the UK. To minimise disruption to local communities, and, to an extent due to the location of the resource, unconventional gas developments may be preferentially positioned in rural areas, where soils are largely vegetated. A study of the lifecycle emissions from extracting these resources in Scotland identified that GHG emissions from land use change (LUC) could be significant where high carbon soils such as peat are disturbed during site construction. To explore this topic further, we estimated the potential emissions from land use change for three proposed unconventional gas developments in the UK; one to extract CBM in Falkirk (Scotland) and two to explore the SG resource in Lancashire (England).
Period 01-Jul-2015 - 31-Aug-2015
The role of expert witnesses in mini-publics: exploring perspectives on the experience and the evidence in deliberative engagement, and how this compares to other citizen forums
Roberts, Jennifer (Principal Investigator)
This work will explore options for involving experts in deliberative mini-publics such as citizens’ juries. We aim to establish how contested evidence can be put forward in a way that is most useful (supportive, informative) to participants and most fair to the witnesses presenting the evidence. To this end, we will examine the role of witnesses in presenting expert information, the processes of doing so, and how different roles or formats affect the experience of the witness and the audience, in order to recommend processes or approaches that will encourage a fair environment. In mini-publics, the participants (citizens) must, through deliberation, arrive at a collective, reasoned, decision on a given issue of political relevance (ref). The role of experts within these processes has received increased interest in recent years (ref). As Moore (2011, p. 3) points out, expert advisory groups or scientific/ technological research often guide or shape which issues are on the political agenda, and the micro and macro level discussions around these. Experts may have already played an indirect yet significant role in determining the topic and scope of a mini-public. What role then, if any, should experts play in these processes? Some deliberative democrats suggest that there is no further role for expert evidence; decision-making led by citizens should be isolated from those with technical expertise (ref). More commonly, expert evidence is considered an intrinsic part of the process; information from experts help participants to understand the complexities of the issues, including any complicated terminology. This ‘information phase’ usually precedes the ‘deliberative phase’, but there are different formats for providing the information is to participants. For environmental decision-making, technical and scientific evidence is deemed crucial for suitable outcomes (Abels 2007, Brown 2014). The citizens’ jury is the most commonly used form of mini-public. A jury lasts between 3 - 5 days and typically involves a group of 15-25 members of the public who hear evidence from a range of witnesses to learn about an issue, before producing a collective recommendation to address that issue. While the involvement of witnesses is crucial to the citizens’ jury model, to date there has been little exploration of the role of the witness and its bounds, and also the most appropriate format for presenting evidence. A Stewarding Board typically oversees the selection of witnesses, but there are different approaches for how jurors select witnesses, and the styles in which witnesses provide evidence can vary greatly. It is important to consider how to ensure that the evidence providing process is fair, both in terms of supporting the jurors to make sense of conflicting evidence, and also supporting the witnesses to present their perspective. Together these factors will determine the extent to which the role of expert evidence in the mini public is successfully fulfilled. To explore these issues, we will first summarise the current literature on this topic, and synthesise the formats adopted for mini-publics (on environmental topics), and where possible, the perspectives of practitioners for these projects. We will evaluate in detail the approach adopted for our recent ClimateXChange research project involving citizens’ juries on wind farm development in Scotland. For example, we will examine the research data on the jurors’ responses to the witnesses, and the perspectives shared by jurors and witnesses following the project. We will also invite the witnesses‘ to share their views on the nature of the evidence that they should provide to citizens and the role that the witnesses should take. The findings from this research will help to shape future citizens’ juries to accommodate expert evidence into the process most effectively. This is timely and topical given the rising interest in citizen participation in decision-making about issues such as energy and the environment and health.
Period 01-Nov-2015 - 01-Oct-2017
UK CCSRC ICR Jen Roberts
Roberts, Jennifer (Principal Investigator)
£15,061 award from the UKCCSRC International Research Collaboration (IRC) Fund to support a 3+ month research secondment in Australia. My visit was hosted by Dr Linda Stalker, Science Director of Australia’s National Geosequestration Laboratory (NGL) in Perth, and Dr Andrew Feitz, Section leader for CO2CRC and International CCS at Geoscience Australia. The research focussed on facilitating knowledge exchange on methods of quantifying CO2 leakage.
Period 20-Feb-2017 - 20-May-2017

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Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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