Michael J Cullis

Michael J Cullis MSc; BSc (Hons); Certificate in Education 

Head of School of Built and Natural Environment

Swansea

Tel: +44 (0) 1792 481000
E-mail: mike.cullis@sm.uwtsd.ac.uk

Mike Cullis

  • Day to day management of School activities, Programme Development and Research.
  • Member of Faculty Board
  • Member Faculty Quality Standing Committee
  • Member of various external and internal validation panels
  • Lecturing duties include Waste and Resource Management and Sustainable Development.

Mike has a BSc Honours degree in Construction Management and a Masters in Intelligent Buildings. He is Head of School of Built and Natural Environment and manages a range of programmes in construction, civil engineering and the environment.

Mike has special interests in sustainability, particularly sustainable construction and leads the School’s research in waste resource management. Much of this centres on the commercial and construction sectors where he engages with local firms to help solve some of the waste related challenges they face.

Mike is also involved in research such as land reclamation, where the School is engaged in a project involving the remediation of anthropogenic processes. He has recently led the CIWM / Defra Master’s Thesis research in; An Investigation into Life Cycle Analysis of Buildings as an aid to the Prevention of Construction waste: A case study for Swansea.

Further research involves projects in cosmetic waste and tourism waste, waste derived fuels and the Welsh Government’s single use carrier bag tax, which again are supported with CIWM / Defra funding. Mike is a member of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management and a Chartered Environmentalist.

  • Member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Sciences
  • Chartered Environmentalist
  • Trustee of Swansea Community Farm where the key aim is to introduce the importance of sustainable living to the local community and beyond.
  • Member of the judging panel for the Sustainable Swansea Awards scheme 2005 - to date
  • The Wales Institute for Sustainable Waste and Resources Management, collaboration with leading HE Institutions in Wales for the establishment of world-leading research in waste resource management (2008-to date).

My role at the School has developed over the years to capture the changing nature of both teaching and curriculum. I have been involved in the development of a number of programmes at the School; Degrees, Higher National Certificates and Diplomas in Building and Civil Engineering Studies, Quantity Surveying and Building Conservation and Degrees and Masters programmes in Environmental Conservation and Management.

I have also held programme directorships in Building Studies and Environmental Conservation, have liaised with industrialists and local authorities on educational issues and consulted with companies on work experience for students. I jointly led the 2011 validation event for the BA/BSc (Hons) Environmental Conservation degree, which was an outstanding success, with no less than three commendations and numerous praises from the panel.

Having commenced my teaching career in construction, changes in societal needs, resulting from changes to our environment, have directed my teaching and curriculum development more towards the sustainability arena. The drive now is to instil sustainability throughout programmes at School level and indeed throughout the University.

Our programmes in environmental conservation, undergraduate and post graduate have led the way forward in encapsulating sustainability across the then Swansea Metropolitan University. As Head of School I will deliver the new University’s INSPIRE initiative in every programme on offer at the School.

Lately, all Schools have been guided towards providing more innovative, exciting, distinctive areas of study for a ‘modern’ learner. Under my leadership some eighteen new initiatives have successfully passed through the University’s APC structure; titles embracing sustainable construction, renewable technologies, environmental science and architectural technology are but a few ready to be developed into full undergraduate programmes. The success of these new areas of study will undoubtedly lead to an increase in recruitment for the next academic year.

I have been responsible for all technology modules and it was left to me to develop these modules so that sustainability played a significant part of learning. Typically, I engaged with Swansea Community Farm to produce a ‘live’ student project. Here students visited the Farm to be briefed by the Director on the need for a sustainable, multi-use building. The final presentation involved the Farm Director who formed part of the assessment. This project was a tremendous success and commended by numerous External Examiners.

The documentation produced was also presented to the previous Vice Chancellor, who was well impressed with the student’s work. This good work has now been passed to other module leaders to carry on where I left off. It must be said that educational visits too are far-reaching to the students; my organisational, curriculum development skills that helped blend visits with learning, have proved extremely profitable, as the recent collaboration with Coastal Housing, Swansea, on their new Wind Street project has demonstrated.

Another valuable development in curriculum connects with undergraduate research, an equally important area of learning. I have for a number of years led the environmental programme team in student’s final project (Dissertation Module).

It has been my responsibility to manage the guidance and supervision of student’s research. In total I have managed some 200 or more research proposals and personally supervised over 50. Under my guidance, no student has been unsuccessful with their dissertation and 12 have attained 1st Class submissions. In addition I have successfully supervised some 20 post graduate research projects and jointly written 8 final project proposals presented to CIWM/Defra for possible funding, achieving more than 87% success.

It was delightful to experience School success when our Environmental degrees won a NIACE/CYFANFYDD award for their contributions to global citizenship and sustainable development. We received a further joint award with Swansea University for the module Sustainable Living. Jane Davidson, the then Environmental Minister presented the awards at the Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay.

Under my leadership as programme director I took the initiative to mentor new staff in the School. This was done outside of normal, expected duties, and has resulted in many benefits; to the School - enhanced effectiveness and efficiency; to the students - improved teaching and learning; to the person – greater professionalism and motivation. Under my new role I shall continue this creativity, particularly advantageous with the increased recruitment of overseas students.

‘Live’ projects have become the norm across many disciplines at the School, particularly within the natural element; here I have engaged students with the Penllergaer Trust, a voluntary organisation responsible for the protection, conservation, restoration, maintenance and regeneration of Penllergare Valley Woods. I have also contributed to the project, having been approached by the Secretary, by attending the Community Advisory Forum

I have devoted much of my research activity in developing initiatives in sustainability; I began to question more the reasons for the damage being caused to our environment. This led me to explore further research opportunities, one such case being the damage to forestation and in July 2001 I participated in a Earthwatch research project in the forests of Bohemia measuring acid precipitation and its effect on the indigenous trees of the region.

I am responsible for instigating a joint research project with Oxford Brookes University on this project, examining remediation of anthropogenic processes. The focus here being land reclamation, which has changed in recent years from recycling land for uses considered sustainable, such as industrial or recreational, towards providing solutions that are self-sustaining.

Our work involves restoring a landscape through natural processes and where ultimately, it is capable of looking after itself, beneficial from a local community perspective. I have contributed to two journal articles based on this research; further papers on biodiversity, soil make-up are under development. Furthermore, our School engage students in the project that advance their knowledge in all aspects of tree planting methods, measurement skills, vitality indices and community involvement.

In 2004 I took the lead towards achieving membership of the Wales Waste and Resources Research Centre (WWRReC). The theme here concentrated on reshaping the waste research and education sector in Wales, in order to achieve major performance gains and enhanced competitiveness through innovative research results and effective translation of these into graduate and postgraduate education.

Post Graduate students have been and continue to be involved in the planned programmes of research developed by the centre and lately the School; these graduates are and will be well placed to take advantage of the need for highly skilled personnel that are undoubtedly required in this sector.

The project was formally supported at Vice-Chancellor or equivalent level by all HEIs in Wales, and enabled all the academic institutions in Wales to build collaborative relationships with each other, and to work more effectively with stakeholders in the area of Waste Management. As a result I was pivotal in securing a one sixth full-time equivalent funded position to coordinate waste research in the region. This initiative has helped secure more recent funding towards Post Graduate research.

In 2005 I successfully put forward an application for our School to become part of the Welsh Consortia For Industrial Training Group (CIT), a Pan Wales consortia whose aim was to generate knowledge and training on Sustainable Constructed Environments. I solely organised a number of training initiatives at the University, on key sustainable construction and environmental challenges; for instance, sustainable coastal environments, habitats for bats, urban sustainability, governance of our environment, fire protection in buildings and designing out waste from construction.

These events were well supported by academics, professional bodies and of course students. In addition I led the research, ‘The perceived training needs of small construction industry firms in south-west Wales’ a small-scale survey, for CIT. It was with this research group that I was able to support a Faculty PhD that examined recycled bottle glass for architectural applications.

Further initiatives captured the challenges experienced in achieving sustainability. As leader in this area at the School I contributed to a joint proposal, with other leading HEIs, for grants covering Sustainable Environmental Research for Enterprise (SEREN) (2007). A number of proposals were put forward;

• Experimental work on old opencast coal-mine spoils on the Varteg Hill, near Garndiffaith and Pontypool, South Wales. Initial reclamation by the National Coal Board restored the area to common grazing land, rather than the original, pre-industrial woodland. This project’s aim is to bring despoiled land into a more sustainable functioning system which would benefit the local community;

• Investigating persistent marine debris, a constant problem along the Gower shoreline. Studies have highlighted local problems and this proposal will provide a more thorough understanding of the ways in which the system operates. It will be developed by analysing litter from its source, through its various transport pathways, to its final sink;

• Research to provide insights and understanding of how SMEs perceive the challenges of climate change on their businesses. Importantly the work will emphasise the issues surrounding waste resource management techniques applicable to small businesses. A mix of quantitative and qualitative data collection would be required to achieve this. 

The challenges surmounting waste resource management continued to drive forward the need for research funding and in 2008 I was party to formulating a bid to HEFCW that would support the Wales Institute for Sustainable Waste and Resources Management, (WISWARM) initiative. The idea was to bring about a doubling of research capacity in the waste and resources arena in Wales through direct HEFCW funding in the short term. 

Our School would have accrued a ‘research champion’ who would aspire to generate; Increased level of applied research in the areas of sustainable construction, marine debris and dredging; higher level of recognised publications that will increase the ability to attract further research funds; improving the University’s compliance with EU and UK regulations; further opportunities to collaborate internally and externally; greater benefits to our student body who can undertake ‘live’ projects; and Improved recognition from industrialists.

Following on from the work completed under the CIT, I was approached by the Welsh School of Architecture who project managed the Welsh Energy Sector Training Project (WEST), undertaken in collaboration with Summit Skills and Energy & Utility Skills. The theme of this initiative was research to identify current skills, knowledge and training in relation to low to zero carbon technologies in Further Education Colleges and private training providers in Wales.

This research was jointly managed by myself and colleagues at Glyndŵr University; the final report having now been published.

European Brown Bear (Ursus arctos arctos). This project forms part of World Society for the Protection of Animals’ (WSPA) work in the rehabilitation of the European Brown Bear from captivity. For many years these magnificent creatures have been poorly treated, primarily used as tourist attractions outside restaurants in Romania. Many of the bears have endured a miserable existence in cramped, barren cages with poor diet and no room to express natural behaviour.

The aim of this project is primarily to collect available data for a research project to establish the behaviour of the European Brown Bear on its rescue from captivity and semi-reintroduction to the wild.

This will form the basis for further work in conservation management by University staff and/or under and post graduate students and will further reinforce research development in the School. Experience gained from the project will, in addition to the research benefits, add much value to environmental conservation students’ learning and help demonstrate the commitment of staff in engaging with the ‘real world’, hence bring reality into the classroom

My role at the School has developed over the years to capture the changing nature of both teaching and curriculum. I have been involved in the development of a number of programmes at the School; Degrees, Higher National Certificates and Diplomas in Building and Civil Engineering Studies, Quantity Surveying and Building Conservation and Degrees and Masters programmes in Environmental Conservation and Management.

I have also held programme directorships in Building Studies and Environmental Conservation, have liaised with industrialists and local authorities on educational issues and consulted with companies on work experience for students. I jointly led the 2011 validation event for the BA/BSc (Hons) Environmental Conservation degree, which was an outstanding success, with no less than three commendations and numerous praises from the panel. 

Having commenced my teaching career in construction, changes in societal needs, resulting from changes to our environment, have directed my teaching and curriculum development more towards the sustainability arena. 

The drive now is to instil sustainability throughout programmes at School level and indeed throughout the University. Our programmes in environmental conservation, undergraduate and post graduate have led the way forward in encapsulating sustainability across the then Swansea Metropolitan University. As Head of School I will deliver the new University’s INSPIRE initiative in every programme on offer at the School.

Lately, all Schools have been guided towards providing more innovative, exciting, distinctive areas of study for a ‘modern’ learner. Under my leadership some eighteen new initiatives have successfully passed through the University’s APC structure; titles embracing sustainable construction, renewable technologies, environmental science and architectural technology are but a few ready to be developed into full undergraduate programmes. The success of these new areas of study will undoubtedly lead to an increase in recruitment for the next academic year.

I have been responsible for all technology modules and it was left to me to continuously develop these modules so that sustainability played a significant part of learning. Typically, I engaged with Swansea Community Farm to produce a ‘live’ student project. Here students visited the Farm to be briefed by the Director on the need for a sustainable, multi-use building. The final presentation involved the Farm Director who formed part of the assessment. This project was a tremendous success and commended by numerous External Examiners.

The documentation produced was also presented to the previous Vice Chancellor, who was well impressed with the student’s work. This good work has now been passed to other module leaders to carry on where I left off. It must be said that educational visits too are far-reaching to the students; my organisational, curriculum development skills that helped blend visits with learning, have proved extremely profitable, as the recent collaboration with Coastal Housing, Swansea, on their new Wind Street project has demonstrated.

Another valuable development in curriculum connects with undergraduate research, an equally important area of learning. I have for a number of years led the environmental programme team in student’s final project (Dissertation Module).

It has been my responsibility to manage the guidance and supervision of student’s research. In total I have managed some 200 or more research proposals and personally supervised over 50. Under my guidance, no student has been unsuccessful with their dissertation and 12 have attained 1st Class submissions. In addition I have successfully supervised some 20post graduate research projects and jointly written 8 final project proposals presented to CIWM/Defra for possible funding, achieving more than 87% success.

It was delightful to experience School success when our Environmental degrees won a NIACE/CYFANFYDD award for their contributions to global citizenship and sustainable development. We received a further joint award with Swansea University for the module Sustainable Living. Jane Davidson, the then Environmental Minister presented the awards at the Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay.

Under my leadership as programme director I took the initiative to mentor new staff in the School. This was done outside of normal, expected duties, and has resulted in many benefits; to the School - enhanced effectiveness and efficiency; to the students - improved teaching and learning; to the person – greater professionalism and motivation. Under my new role I shall continue this creativity, particularly advantageous with the increased recruitment of overseas students. 

‘Live’ projects have become the norm across many disciplines at the School, particularly within the natural element; here I have engaged students with the Penllergaer Trust, a voluntary organisation responsible for the protection, conservation, restoration, maintenance and regeneration of Penllergare Valley Woods. I have also contributed to the project, having been approached by the Secretary, by attending the Community Advisory Forum. 

Waste and resource management is also a key specialist area of research; I lead the School’s waste research and have successfully supervised numerous undergraduate and post graduate waste related research projects. I am heavily engaged with industry professionals and sit on numerous Welsh waste resource management panels.

I also jointly developed the published PAS 402:2009 Waste Resource Management – Specification for Performance Reporting. I direct the masters’ thesis research and have guided students in their preparation of proposals to CIWM and Defra for funding support. To date I have successfully submitted seven from eight proposals, all of which being presented at Imperial College London to our peers in waste and resource management.

Publications to date amount to some 10 submissions, some of which presented to leading international journals and conferences, all examining responses to anthropogenic processes. Recently, I have submitted to the REF 2014 submission UoA17 (Geography, Environmental Studies & Archaeology).

Professional recognition has been highlighted; I was asked to be part of the consultation process for the preparation of One Wales: One Planet, Sustainable Development Scheme for Wales. In addition, as a Chartered Environmentalist, I was invited by the BBC to give an interview, (June 2010), on urban flooding, a significant environmental issue in many areas of the UK.

There is a distinct need for strong governance on this matter, more resources and funding will help. The same year I sat on a waste management question time panel arranged by the Environmental Centre in Swansea and supported by the City and County of Swansea.

In 2009 I was approached by the Director of Construction Excellence in Wales to sit on the steering group that developed the PAS 402, (2009) Waste Resource Management – Specification for Performance Reporting. This publication is now recognised as a vehicle for implementing positive change in the way we manage our waste.

It is clear that this, under the Green Compass Scheme, will continue to have an important role in the realisation of the Welsh Government’s targets for reuse and recycling of Wales’ waste. This same year I was contacted by UNESCO Publishing for permission to reproduce excerpts of a book review I completed previously; ‘Creating Better Cities with Children and Youth’ 

Attendance at conferences too is evidence of professional standing amongst peers. In 2009 I presented at the Repairing and Rebuilding the Welsh House conference at Margam Park, West Glamorgan. My talk on ‘What’s sustainability got to do with it?’ was well received by all.

In 2011 I led the University’s submission for funding through the European FP7 enterprise, an enormous challenge! The research area centred around waste, in particular beach litter; we partnered the Norwegian Institute for Air Research and others in the proposal, which unfortunately was not successful. The experience gained developing this proposal however, will allow for further proposals to flourish.

Plamping, K., Haigh, M., Cullis, M. J., Jenkins, R. E., (2008) Evaluation of Cambial Electrical Resistance (CER) for the Appraisal of Tree Vitality on Reclaimed Coal Lands, International Journal of Mining, Reclamation and Environment.

Moran, A., Cullis, M., House, C., (2008) The perceived training needs of small construction industry firms in south-west Wales: a small-scale survey, Consortia For Industrial Training.

BSI (2009) Steering Group member for PAS 402, Waste Resource Management – Specification for Performance reporting.

Cullis, M. J. (2009) Repairing and Rebuilding the Welsh House, What’s sustainability got to do with it? Conference proceedings, Margam Park, West Glamorgan.

Haigh, M., Reed, H., Flege, A., D’Aucourt, M., Plamping, K., Cullis, M., Woodruffe, P., Sawyer,S., Panhuis, W., Wilding, G., Farrugia, F. & Powell, S. 2010.  Effect of planting method on the survival of Alnus glutinosa and Quercus petraea saplings in compacted coal-mine spoils, South Wales, pp 164-171, in Sklenicka, O., Singhal, R., & Kasparova, I. (eds) Environmental Issues and Waste Management in Energy and Mineral Production (SWEMP) 12th International Symposium (Prague, Czech Republic, May 24-26, 2010), Proceedings.  Prague, Czech University of Life Sciences & Lesnicka Prace, Prague [ISBN 978-80-213-2076-5; Lesnicka Prace, ISBN.978-80-807154-42-7]. 380pp.

Phillips, M.R., Rosser, G., Jenkins, R.E. and Cullis, M.J. (2011). Beach management strategies: a comparative stakeholder assessment, Gower, South Wales, UK. Journal of Coastal Research. SI 64: 1396-1400.

House, C., Williams, J.L., Cullis, M.J. and Phillips, M.R. (2011). Coastal sustainability: a comparative socio-economic lifestyle assessment, South Wales, UK. Journal of Coastal Research. SI 64: 1233-1237.

Haigh, M., Reed, H., Flege A., D’aucourt, M., Plamping, K., Cullis, M., Woodruffe, P., Sawyer, S., Panhuis, W., Wilding, G., Farrugia, F., Powell, S., (2013) Effect of planting method on the growth of Alnus glutinosa and Quercus petraea in compacted opencast coal-mine spoils, south Wales Land Degradation and Development, (DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2201).

Williams, A.T., Pond, K., Ergin, A., and M.J., Cullis, 2013. The Hazards of Beach Litter, (in), Coastal Hazards, (ed.), Charles Finkl, 753-780, Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg New York London.

Rudd, L., Cullis, M., Skydmore, D., Cheeseborough, D., (2013) Review of Further Education level training to support the Welsh Government’s drive towards a Low Carbon Economy, Welsh Energy Sector Training, Low Carbon Research Institute, ERDF, Welsh Government.

Research Projects: 

  • How recycling can be good for business: A case for Swansea, presented at Imperial College London 2009.
  • What Impact Would the Addition of Recycling and Waste Collections to Business Rates Have on Commercial Waste Levels: A Case Study for Swansea presented at Imperial College London 2011.
  • Improving Recycling Rates and Resource Efficiency within Micro Businesses: A Case Study for Tenby, presented at Imperial College, London, February 2012.
  • Closing the Loop on Plastics:  A Case Study from the Cosmetics Industry for the Development of Best Practice, presented at Imperial College, London, February 2012.
  • An Appraisal of Current and Future Markets for Secondary Recovered Fuel (SRF) Produced from Waste Resource Management Facilities. Presented at Imperial College, London, February 2013.
  • A Study to Determine the Effect of Legislation to Enforce the Use of Single Use Carrier Bags on Small Medium Enterprises:  A Study in Abergavenny, Wales (2013)
  • An Investigation into Life Cycle Analysis of Buildings as an aid to the Prevention of Construction waste: A case study for Swansea (2014)