16 April 2020

My UEA Story: Elizabeth Stewart

Elizabeth StewartName: Elizabeth Stewart

School: History

Research Area: Digital Reconstructions of Historic Landscapes for Spatial Analysis

Bio: Elizabeth is a 3rd year PhD Researcher and Associate Tutor in Landscape History. She specialises in 3D-GIS digital recreations of historic landscapes, and is funded by the Digital Humanities strand of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium (EARC).  From Norfolk, she also has experience working in archaeology and museums across the county. 


Elizabeth’s life as a UEA postgraduate research student


My name is Elizabeth Stewart and my research is in 3D virtual recreations of historic landscapes for spatial analysis.

Why is your research important?

Landscapes change over time, they don't exist as they used to be, so with the help of digital technology we can now access those landscapes and gain better insight into not only the landscapes themselves, but the people who designed them and the people who experienced them. I think that's very important.

What fascinates you about this research area?

There are multiple interpretations for landscape. Through recreating these landscapes and amalgamating all those different interpretations, it really brings to life and gives me a really good sense of what these landscapes actually were, so when I actually recreate them that's a fascinating moment for me.

What motivates you?

My research is contributing to the wider knowledge in my field but it's also more than that, I think my research can be adapted to different situations - heritage or outreach or teaching aids. It can be multi-purposed and I think being able to provide that to the wider public is a strong motivator I think.


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A day in the life


I begin my day by getting myself some breakfast before heading onto campus.  It’s about a 40-minute walk from my house, so I get some decent exercise.  I set up my stuff in the Graduate Centre, which is a nice sociable environment to work in where a group of us can work together.  This area also has easy access to much-needed sustenance from the Scholars Bar.  I ease into my day by grabbing myself a coffee and catching-up on various emails and other kinds of basic admin.  I might send my family a quick message via Skype and have a quick catch-up with friends before starting work on my PhD.



I put on my headphones and crack on with my research, which currently involves creating digital models of historic landscapes using Computer Aided Design (CAD) to be used for spatial analysis with Geographical Information Systems (GIS).  These models are based on the data I collected during research trips away from campus. Data can span from transcriptions of manuscripts from certain archives to fieldwork conducted at specific heritage sites of interest.  Modelling can be a long, intricate process, in order get the textures and structure to a decent standard, but seeing the final product makes it all worthwhile.



With about an hour or so for lunch, this allows enough time to have a chat with friends, check up on the latest news and social media, and venture outside for some fresh air and sunshine. I may even take this opportunity to head to the library and loan/return some books.



In the afternoon, this is normally a good time to see my supervisor to catch-up on my progress and ask any questions.  I may bump into other students or lecturers in the department and have a friendly chat with them before heading back to the Graduate Centre to crack on with more work.  I may decide to do some writing for a change, which is required for various aspects of my PhD.  This can be anything from writing down workflows to the chapters that will go into my final thesis.  More recently, however, I have been writing an article about my research for an international journal, abstracts for both national and international conferences, and a portfolio of my teaching experience to receive an Associate Fellowship to the Higher Education Academy (HEA).



I head back home at the end of the working day. My housemates will arrive back from work, from the real world outside of university, and we will have a chat whilst making dinner and spend some time to relax in front of the TV.



If I have a free evening, then sometimes I will want to finish something I’m working on and keep the momentum going.  However, having time to relax is important! Yoga is great if I have been sitting at a desk all day.  I also meet up and chat with my friends, whether that is having a go at the local pub quiz or a night-in with a movie. But sometimes, a cup of tea and an early night is just what is needed!


School of History


Postgraduate Study