Yanxin Liu, Bachelor’s degree in Geographic Information System atChina University of Geosciences, Beijing. At present, she is a PhD student, she is carrying out a research period on the circular economy calculator to measure the progress of urban circular economy strategies at the Parthenope University of Naples through a doctoral scholarship (from September 2019 to September 2020).
How does the “Analysis of the metabolism of urban conglomerates and the cooperative strategy of the circular economy” project integrate into your research training?
Urban circular economy is a very useful and interesting topic, which could help cities develop much better withinasustainability perspective. My research mainly uses some advanced software and models to evaluate the environmental and economic benefits of innovative production and consumption patterns in urban ecosystems.Circular Economy is not only recycling waste and residues, but also regenerating the environment by appropriate use of basic environmental resources.
What is your specific contribution to the research activities of the project? What are the possible applications of this research in the future?
I assessed the environmental and economic benefits ofplanting more trees in cities (developing urban forests). Trees generate benefits in terms of water and air quality in many ways, translating into increased health and wellbeing for urban population (and the other species). This can also be quantified in terms of monetary benefits (e.g., decreased expenses to fix damages). The research, in collaboration with other researchers at Parthenope University,concerns the Metropolitan City of Napoli. I presented our resultsat the Genova “Festival della Scienza 2019”.
I am also working on the environmental benefits of improving iron and steel production and use, with increased recycling of these materials in the transportation and housing sectors.
I believe that communicating these potential benefits could help the audience realize that environmental integrity and urban circular economy are really important and really close to our life. This research is meaningful, because it could be a reference for city policy makers, managers and investors. The results of the research could help them make more informeddecisions and avoid potential risks.
During the project, you have carried out (you are doing) a research period in Italy. How do you rate your experience in Italy? What led you to your training and professional development?
The Italian experience is excellent, especially before the Covid-19, when I was allowed to stay outside. I met many nice and warm-hearted people, and also made some Italian friends. I really enjoy the life here. About this training, the opportunity to work with very motivated and expert researchers, coordinated by my present supervisor, prof. Sergio Ulgiati, helps me go deeper into new aspects of environmental and societal interplay. Moreover, this research is part of a collaborative China-Italy project which is an opportunity to bridge the two Universities and the two cultures and lifestyles. This is a very enriching experience.
What do you think are the most interesting aspects of the Italian system for a young Chinese researcher?
I think the most interesting aspect is the freedom of academy, which is also one of the most attractive points. When I came to Parthenope University firstly, I was surprised by meetingpeople who wereconducting academic discussions everywhere. And I believe this atmosphere can promote the development of Italian academic research better, and faster, especially for the younger generation.
You came to Italy just at the time of the health emergency from Covid-19, how did you face this period?
To be honest, at first, I was a little bit anxious and scared. But I wasrelieved soon, because my professor and lovely colleagues contact me often. They gave me a lot of care and made me realize that I am not alone although I live in a foreign country. Now I just hope we cango back to normal life soon, and eat pizza together.