Sally O’Brien is a second year PhD student at the Future Infrastructure and Built Environment Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Cambridge and is supervised by Dr Kristen MacAskill. Her research interests are in infrastructure risk management, data and information management, data and information mapping and strategic decision-making. She is completing a six-month enrichment placement at The Alan Turing Institute from January 2020. 

She studied Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in Trinity College Dublin between 2012 and 2016 after always showing an interest in science, mathematics, and problem-solving cases in school. She also worked on the Innovation and Long-Term Strategy Team in SSE Airtricity, an energy supply company in Ireland, before continuing her education at the University of Cambridge. 

Outside of academia, she is a sports fanatic and is a believer that sport can improve an individual’s drive, determination and resilience capability in all aspects of life. She has competed in the world-renowned Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race and was a member of the victorious 2019 Blondie crew (Cambridge Women’s Reserve Boat). 

Research interests

Sally’s PhD work explores how data and information is utilised within large-scale infrastructure organisations in response to multi-hazard risk. Her research will develop a methodology to assess organisational capability for managing multi-hazard risks and will explicitly investigate data quality and information fragmentation across an infrastructure organisation. The aim of her research methodology is to illustrate, though a form of information mapping, data flows and conversions in an infrastructure organisation’s risk management processes. The research will also create opportunities for the infrastructure organisation to increase its ability to manage data and information more effectively. Whilst at the Turing, she hopes to engage and collaborate with as many people who have a background and interest in this type of research. 

She has also completed an MPhil in Energy Technologies at the University of Cambridge. Her MPhil research focused on the feasibility and long-term potential of implementing an autonomous public transport system in Milton Keynes, UK. 

Achievements and awards

Sally’s research was recently cited in the National Infrastructure Commission’s ‘Resilience Scoping Study’ which is a report created by the Commission to outline their future research strategy for improving resilience in UK infrastructure and informing policy recommendations in the long-term. A copy of the Commission’s report can be found here.