Project DeStress

Exploring & creating urban places, SuDS, & soundscapes: their impact on your health & wellbeing

Project Team

Dr Sarah Payne

Lead Researcher = Dr Sarah Payne, University of Surrey

Dr Sarah Payne is Senior Lecturer of Environmental Psychology.  Her research interests focus on multi-sensorial impacts of built environment designs on people, including the perception, evaluation, and assessment methods for urban soundscapes. Dr Payne is a Chartered Psychologist specialising in Environmental Psychology, and applying these guiding principles to engineering and planning problems that interface with human perception, responses, health and wellbeing, whilst ensuring solutions are beneficial for nature.

Sarah oversees Project DeStress, conducting the research, managing the team, liaising with project partners, and engaging with the public about the project. The project was originally funded by ESRC (EP/R003467/1), when she was Associate Professor of Health in the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University.

Current and Recent Team

Currently the team consists of a PhD student and several undergraduate students who have contributed to related activities over the past year.

profile picture of Jivantika Satyarthi
Jivantika Satyarthi

PhD Student = Jivantika Satyarthi

Jivantika is a trained architect and planner. She has recently completed her MRes Urban Research as part of the 1+3 scholarship she has received for the ESRC Steers Doctoral Studentship that Dr Sarah Payne and Professor Scott Arthur won for the project “Building in soundscape resilience via flood resilience to create healthier residential environments” (ES/P000681/1: 2606333). Her PhD based at Heriot-Watt University aims to establish feasible landscaping and water designs for Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) that also produce desirable soundscapes through flowing water features and attracting pleasant sounding wildlife. You can read more about her project on our webpage here. Dr Sarah Payne remains as her external PhD supervisor, alongside Professor Scott Arthur as supervisor at Heriot-Watt University.

PhD Student = Lisa Lavia

Lisa is the Managing Director of the Noise Abatement Society and holds a Masters in Business Administration. She is a PhD student, with funding from Heriot-Watt University, in support of Project DeStress’s grant, cementing her existing role as a project partner. Lisa is in the write up stage of her PhD which is entitled “Soundscape, engagement and spatial planning: an exploration of perceived control, annoyance, indirect health outcomes and wellbeing in the context of UK aviation expansion projects”. She has already published her research in this area at international conferences, in addition to presenting the work and ideas to stakeholders and during guest lectures to university students.

profile picture of Tanya Spencer
Tanya Spencer

Undergraduate Student = Tanya Spencer

Tanya was a volunteer research assistant during her second year of her BSc Psychology degree. During this time she began transferring the environment simulator into a new software tool to enhance it’s data collection capabilities. She also systematically performed several literature searches into soundscapes and Attention Restoration Theory, reviewing the relevance of each article for it’s inclusion in a systematic review.

Original Team

We are very grateful of all the hard work the original team members of Project DeStress gave to the research from 2017 to 2019, in particular to Dr Neil Bruce who was instrumental in producing the Environment Simulator and is still considered a part of the team.

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant = Dr Neil Bruce

Dr Neil Bruce was the Research Associate on DeStress and is also an audio engineer, composer, and sound designer, specialising in field recordings. Neil is now a Lecturer in Soundscapes at the School of Digital Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests focus on soundscapes, psychoacoustics and perception of, and attitudes towards sound. Neil has a PhD in Acoustics (thesis ‘The effects of expectation on the perception of urban soundscapes) and MSc in Signal Processing. Neil has extensive experience with ambisonic, binuaural, stereo recording techniques and has recorded soundscapes around the world for both research and arts projects. During his PhD, Neil developed a soundscape simulation tool.

Neil was in charge of making and editing the audio recordings and visual images, to create the visual soundscape simulator for the project. He assisted Sarah in many other aspects of the project. 

Research Assistant = Debbie McCracken, Heriot-Watt University

Debbie McCracken was a full-time PhD student at Heriot-Watt University, researching associations between urban greenspace and the health and wellbeing of children. She holds a first class BSc (Hons) in Psychology with Human Health as well as an MSc in Urban and Regional Planning. Debbie was also the Social Media Editor for the academic journal Cities & Health and has a keen interest in how our environments affect our health and wellbeing.  

Research Assistant = Jordan Greenhorn, Heriot-Watt University 

Jordan Greenhorn was a 5th Year MEng Architectural Engineering Student at Heriot-Watt University. Jordan has a keen research interest in acoustics and soundscapes having undertaken a soundscape laboratory project and his 4th year undergraduate dissertation in examining how acoustic comfort varies across different office environments. As well as this, Jordan has completed work placements both with BuroHappold and Atelier 10, with a keen interest in sustainable building services design. Jordan has gone on to work full time with Buro Happold. 

Project Partners

We are extremely appreciative of the intial support Project DeStress was provided during it’s formation and opening years of it’s research by it’s project parnters. Each individual member and their organisations (private or charity) provided immeasurable support, knowledge, opportunities and encouragement and it is truely appreciated still to this day.

PhD student and Project Partner = Ms Lisa Lavia, The Noise Abatement Society

Ms Lisa Lavia is the Managing Director of the Noise Abatement Society who raise awareness and educate about measured, considered, and responsible use of sound. Over a number of years, she has been involved with soundscape research and exploring different types of soundscape interventions in public spaces to improve people’s wellbeing. Lisa will assist in the dissemination of the mapping survey for identifying quiet and calm areas within Brighton. Within Project DeStress Lisa is on the advisory panel and will be involved with knowledge exchange processes for Work Package 1 and 4, which involve public engagement activities and knowledge exchange with design professionals and council officials.

Project Partner = Professor Marketta Kyttä, Aalto University, Finland 

Professor Marketta Kyttä is an expert in Public Participatory Geographic Information Systems and a Professor in Land Use Planning at Aalto University. Marketta will advise Sarah in the development of a mapping survey for the public to identify quiet and calm areas within UK cities. Within Project DeStress Marketta is on the advisory panel and will be involved with knowledge exchange processes for Work Package 1.

Project Partner = Mr Jack Harvie-Clark, Apex Acoustics

Mr Jack Harvie-Clark is the Director of Apex Acoustics which is a dedicated independent acoustics consultancy, offering design advice for both buildings and environmental acoustics. He is also the chair of the Association of Noise Consultants. Jack is on the advisory panel of Project DeStress and will assist in reviewing and user-testing the Visual Soundscape Simulator while it is being developed in Work Packages 2 and 3.

Project Partner = Mr Clive Bentley, Sharps Redmore

Mr Clive Bentley was an Associate Consultant at Sharps Redmore who are independent, acoustic, noise and vibration consultants. Recently he has been developing a tool for mapping tranquillity. Clive is on the advisory panel of Project DeStress and will assist in providing acoustic data for tranquil urban areas as well as reviewing and user-testing the Visual Soundscape Simulator while it is being developed in Work Packages 2 and 3. He is now at Sharps Acoustics LLP.