Cristina Vert Wins UPF Award for Best Doctoral Thesis in Planetary Well-Being

ISGlobal-affiliated researcher selected as co-recipient of the award for her work on the role of blue spaces in urban areas


Researcher Cristina Vert Roca, who completed her doctoral work at ISGlobal, has been selected as a co-recipient of the 2020 Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) Award for Best Doctoral Thesis in Planetary Well-Being. Vert’s thesis, The Role of Blue Spaces on Health and Well-Being, assesses the effects of exposure to “blue spaces”—places that prominently feature water, such as beaches, lakes, rivers or fountains—in urban areas. “My thesis suggests that exposure to blue spaces has a positive impact on well-being and mood,” noted Vert.

The thesis forms part of the BlueHealth project and was supervised by ISGlobal researchers Mark Nieuwenhuijsen and Mireia Gascon. “I am very honoured to receive this award, which recognises work that I have done over the last four years at ISGlobal with the air pollution and urban environment research group, and with my colleagues at the BlueHealth project,” commented Vert.

Cristina Vert has a background in environmental science and public health. She dedicated her master’s thesis to exploring the effects of air pollution on mental health, in particular anxiety and depression. She has also done fieldwork for epidemiological studies.

In her doctoral thesis, Vert highlights the role of urban blue spaces in improving the physical and mental health of the population. “It is important that these sorts of spaces be taken into account in urban planning,” she commented. “The presence of accessible, equitably distributed and high-quality natural spaces—including blue spaces—promotes physical activity and social interaction while also reducing stress levels and increasing relaxation. Blue spaces also improve air quality by decreasing air and noise pollution, while also reducing heat island effects. All of this has direct public health consequences.”

The UPF Award for Best Doctoral Thesis in Planetary Well-Being recognises doctoral students who have submitted a thesis in any of UPF’s PhD programmes that “furthers our knowledge and understanding of the complex, interrelated and systemic problems affecting the well-being of humans, animals and the planet itself, as a global ecosystem, and identifies integrated, innovative and interdisciplinary solutions to these problems”.

Cristina Vert shares this year’s award with Daniela Rebeca Ochoa Pesantez, whose thesis is titled El daño ecológico, el caso “Chevron-Texaco”. Estudio del régimen jurídico de la directiva 2004/35/CE y la ley española de responsabilidad ambiental así como de la legislación comparada.