May Abdelhakeem Newisar
May is an Egyptian PhD student in Planning and Environmental Management, fully-funded through a School of Environment, Education and Development Studentship. May’s research focuses on interpreting the design development of public open spaces within the context of heritage sites.
On my research
May Abdelhakeem Newisar
PhD Planning and Environmental Management
My research interest is urban conservation; more specifically understanding conservation practices and how they are influencing the development of cities which were considered a barrier for development.
Liverpool’s world heritage site (WHS) is the only site listed in danger in the United Kingdom.
My research seeks to understand and articulate how the development of the Liverpool WHS and its value could influence and shape the design of public open spaces that attract tourism and are used as a tool for economic development, using Pier Head as a case study.
I’m using environmental psychology to try to understand the role of public open spaces, studying the perception and behaviour of users visiting such sites.
I’m also looking at the conflict between sustaining the tangible and intangible values and achieving the aimed urban and economic developments, including the contention that the commodification of heritage brings.
My research findings hope to help UNESCO world heritage sites understand their nature and meaning within their contexts to find a different and creative approach when dealing with their conservation practices.
We hope to transfer lessons learned from Liverpool’s Pier Head to other similar cases for city councils and developers to understand better how to deal with such sites.
On choosing my PhD
My dream is to inspire or have a positive influence on others to achieve a better future for their societies or communities.
During my work as a teaching assistant for eight years, I realised the importance of such a job in academia and how this could help others.
Being an international student my main aim was to find a high ranking university to build my career and a big community of students which would help in building my career afterwards as well as helping me maintain a healthy social life while doing my studies.
The University of Manchester also offers teaching opportunities to PhD researchers, which is a good opportunity to gain teaching experience as well.
All of these things I found at the University, which encouraged me more to carry out my research here.
On my PhD student experience
My experience has been interesting and exciting.
I’m managing to understand myself more and my capabilities whether in teaching, doing my research, volunteering for different activities and events.
What’s more important is the healthy environment that we have among our colleagues (helping each other, listening to each other and encouraging each other to work more).
The different experiences we share at different stages of our PhD is very useful to all of us.
The knowledge I’m gaining here is extensive, whether from my colleagues, training or workshops that I have been attending.
I’ve learned a lot about research and different disciplines which enrich my knowledge more
On additional opportunities
I have had many opportunities including:
- voluntary work at the National Football Museum;
- acting as a PGR Student Representative for my programme and helping to solve any difficulties students are having;
- participating in the Developing Intellectual Leaders programme;
- organising the SEED Annual Conference and organising seminars and ‘fun days’ events within my department;
- attending the tenth Annual Manchester Enterprise Summer School where I worked on social entrepreneurship through group projects;
- presenting posters at the SEED PGR Annual Conference and the University’s Postgraduate Summer Showcase.
I’ve also won several scholarships to attend and/or present at conferences including:
- The Erasmus Mundus workshop for Geographical modelling in France, where I learned a lot about different programs that were used for understanding and predicting users’ movement within the urban environment
- The Green Building Conference by the Green Building Council at USA 2017 which focused on urban resilience for smaller communities and how to use sustainable approaches for urban development by using different technologies
- The American Association for Geographers conference, one of the biggest conferences within our discipline, during which I presented a paper exploring one of my research concepts
“The knowledge I’m gaining here is extensive, whether from my colleagues, training or workshops that I have been attending.”
On tips for future students
In the beginning, I was afraid to be alone in a different city and culture but at the same time, I was excited to learn more about different cultures.
The good thing about Manchester is it’s quite international, different nationalities, traditions and sharing and exchanging knowledge about such culture was really interesting it’s added a lot to my experience.
The University of Manchester organises a lot of activities during the welcome week and before that to make you more familiarised with the University and even the city.
There are even student ambassadors who welcome students when they arrive at the airport.
Make sure to check the International Society and the Students’ Union for different activities and events taking place at the beginning of the year welcoming the students.
Another thing, student discounts are everywhere here so just be aware of it and search for it.
In my country, we didn’t have this, but it’s useful for student budgets.
Read more about our PhD Planning and Environmental Management programme.