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Dr Kerry Bobbins

Dr Kerry Bobbins

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

 Amory C422


Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK


I am an urban geographer who has worked on sustainability transitions at the academia-policy interface for the last 8 years. During this time, I have worked closely with government officials, private sector and civil society in South Africa and the United Kingdom to produce applied research and policy outputs on urban infrastructure transitions, focusing on water, sanitation, and energy. I have also directly contributed to the development of municipal and regional policy on green infrastructure, mining waste landscape and urban water management.

In my most recent research project, I developed a practice theory approach to explore the unplanned use of green infrastructure concepts in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the concept was used to manage urban water flows to adapt and enhance existing water infrastructure. I identified how project level actors such as government officials, private sector professionals and members of civil society came together through a common interest to leave a viable and manageable legacy in the city, which enabled them to negotiate where and how green infrastructure concepts were used.

I am currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the UMBANE project funded by the Newton Fund. The UMBANE project implements solar-powered mini-grids for providing refrigeration services in Qando Qando, an informal settlement in Cape Town, including capacity building for female entrepreneurs. My role on the project include conducting qualitative and quantitative fieldwork and writing up policy and academic outputs on use of solar mini grids in informal settlements in South Africa.


Sustainability transitions, urban infrastructure, climate change, nature-based solutions, socio-environmental justice.


PhD Development Planning (University College London, United Kingdom)

MSc Geography (Rhodes University, South Africa)

BSc Honours Geography (Rhodes University, South Africa)

BSc Geography and Botany (Rhodes university, South Africa)


Research interests

I am interested in the socio-political aspects of infrastructure and sustainability transitions, where actors draw on nature and infrastructure in different ways to develop locally relevant solutions. My interests also include how actors such as government officials, private sector professionals and civil society work together at different times to develop solutions given available resources, geography, and socio-political contexts, where these aspects can reveal important considerations about the way that cities develop in equal and unequal ways.

Research projects

UMBANE: Powering Innovative Sustainable Businesses with Productive Use Appliances in South African Informal Settlements at the Margins of the Grid

The UMBANE project, funded by the Newton Fund, builds on existing research on the value and use of solar mini-grids in Qando Qando, an informal settlement in Cape Town, to deliver renewable energy-powered sustainable business solutions to informal settlements in South Africa. The project delivers solar mini-grids for refrigeration services and capacity-building for female entrepreneurs toward the development of sustainable technical, business and livelihood outcomes.

Cross-sectoral benefits of action in sanitation: Co-producing policy to guide outcomes in the Sanitation sector and beyond

I am also involved in a joint University College London-WaterAid project exploring the cross-sectoral benefits of action in sanitation. A core focus of the work is to translate academic knowledge on the synergies between sanitation and the Sustainable Development Goals into a series policy outputs, demonstrating the role sanitation plays in achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals. The research team is constituted by a core group of interdisciplinary academics working in engineering, planning, health, and the environment, WaterAid managers involved in sanitation and programme management, and a wider set of WaterAid partner organisations.



2018/19 - 2020/21 Post Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Geography, University College London

  • Water and Development in Africa (GEOG0036)
     Urban Political Ecology (GEOG0062)
     Thinking Geographically I (GEOG0151)
  •  Geography in the Field II (GEOG0014)
  •   Environmental Change (GEOG0080

2020/20 Guest lecture, Department of Public Policy and Administration, American University Cairo, Cairo.

  • Social Sciences Research Methods

2020/21 Graduate Teaching Assistant, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London

  • Environment and Sustainable Development in Practice (DEVP0022)
  • Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South (DEVP0023)

Supervision / Group

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