Global Challenges Academy

Staff Profile

Professor Margaret Carol Bell CBE

Science City Professor of Transport and the Environment



Professor Bell was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to sustainable transport in the Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours List in 2006. Her main contribution to knowledge rests with a realistic queueing model for TRANSYT, ageing of traffic signal plans and pioneering research assessing the impacts and management of traffic related pollutant emissions, their effects on exposure and health and win-win solutions for improving air quality and reducing carbon in the provision of sustainable transport. She was instrumental in working with Siemens to deliver the first roadside air pollution monitors in 1997 and supported the Electrical Engineering School in Newcastle to develop the pervasive air pollution and noise monitoring system commercialised by the spin-out company Envirowatch. Prof Bell, also was instrumental in creating the integrated research facility, the instrumented City, iC, which boasts over two decades of historic data (1987- 2011). More recently, through knowledge transfer partnership funding, she has transferred the Newcastle University Integrated Database and Analysis Platform, NUIDAP for real-time analysis of continuous measurements of traffic, pollution and meteorological conditions and air pollution model prediction, developed in research mainly funded by the EPSRC, into the commercial product AQATANE in collaboration with Amey plc. 

Prof Bell is a member of the Research Council UK Peer Review College, and carried out reviews for the British Council, Hong Kong, Belgium, Canada and a member of the Prioritising Panel member for Hong Kong University Grants Council (2014-2018). In 2000 set-up and since, Chaired the Smart Environment Forum of the ITS (UK) and has given evidence at the Transport Select Committee on occasions. Prof Bell is Honorary Editor in Chief of the IET-ITS Journal (2016-present).

Other areas of research include: development of congestion measures, forecasting air quality and duration of incidents with neural networks and fuzzy logic, evaluation of demand management strategies and traffic control policy on the environment. In-depth studies of the effect of driver behaviour on tailpipe emissions, evaluation of the impact of fatal accidents on network delay, of illegal parking on vehicle emissions, the role of ITS in reducing carbon emissions, real time monitoring and estimating pollution in networks, application of hazard models to understand changes in trip duration and air pollution events, logit modelling for assessment of the quality drivers of bus service satisfaction, impact of mobile technologies on perception of rail travel time and development of decision support system for public transport interchange, tactical and strategic traffic management, application of low cost pervasive noise monitors in monitoring and modelling urban noise, exploring the potential of mode shift to cycles, geometric design parameters influencing cyclist safety at roundabouts.

Roles and Responsibilities

Transfer Knowledge to local authorities, industries and stakeholders to increase the impact of research outputs, Supervision of PhD students and mentoring of staff and students.


University of Durham: BSc. Hons Physics II-i (1970); PhD. Pure Science (1974), Hon FIHE,  Hon FICE, FCIHT, CMILT

Previous Positions

January 1997 –April 2007: Director of the Instrumented City Facility since 1992, Director of LANTERN since October 1999, Appointed to Personal Chair: Professor of Traffic and Environmental Pollution, August 2001, Director of Knowledge Transfer for ITS, since August 2003, Member of the Management Team of the University Interdisciplinary Institute in Earth, Energy and the Environment since August 2004, Research Director of the Institute for Transport Studies ITS, University of Leeds, until January 2000,
1987-1996 Senior Research Fellow, promoted to Senior Lecturer, Transport Research Group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nottingham
1983-1987 Research Fellow and Director of Advanced Vehicle and Traffic Systems, AVTS, Group, and Development Officer at the University of Durham Industrial Research Laboratory, UDIRL Department of Engineering Science, University of Durham
1974-1983 Research Associate, promoted to Senior Research Associate, in the Transport Operations Research Group, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
1973-1974 Research Assistant. Department of Physics and Physical Electronics. University of Northumbria


Research: Member of the EPSRC: General Engineering/Built Environment Programme College (1995-present); NERC Natural Environmental Research Council College (2005-present), ESRC, Economic and Social Research Council College (2005-present). UGC Hong Kong (2014 -present) and NCBR Poland (2019-present) Honorary Editor in Chief of the IET Intelligent Transport Systems Journal (2020- present); Editor in Chief of the IET Intelligent Transport Systems Journal (2016-2020)
Professional: National Committees: Chairperson of the ITS(UK) Smart Environment Forum (previously Smart Environment Interest Group) (May 2001- present), Member of the APRIL, Air Pollution Research In London Committee and Chairperson of the APRIL Noise Interest Group (2004- 2011);
Regional Committees: North East Climate Change Partnership Transport Work Stream November 2007 - 2008
Academic Committees: Chairperson of the UTSG (January 2004- December 2006); Chairperson Elect of the UTSG (January 2003 – December 2003); Elected Member of the UTSG Committee (January 1987-December 1990); (January 2000 – December 2002); Member of the IEE:C12 Committee (January 1988-May 1991); Editorial Board of the IET (since its inception)
Conference Organising Committees: the IEE RTIC Conference (2000, 2002, 2004, 2008); International Conference and Exhibition Intelligent Transport Systems in London, UK (2006). Smart Environment Interest Group Conferences November 2007, November 2009, November 2011. Carbon Working Group workshop July 2010, June 2011. 

Honours and Awards

2019: Rees-Hills Award for Outstanding Personal Contribution, 2016: TRL Academy Symposium Personal Award,  June 2015: Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Highways Engineers, June 2012: Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineering, June 2006: Named Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Sustainable Transport in the Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours List. Investiture 2nd November 2006; 1987: Runner up of Annual Transportation Award organised by the Institute of Civil Engineers;1985: Joint winner of the Croda Award Best technical paper in the journal of the Institute of Highways and Transportation.


Research Interests

Professor Bell's research has been mainly in the field of traffic and environment monitoring, modelling management and control. Professor Bell's research work, in chronological order, has included queuing of traffic at signal controlled junctions, plan change algorithms, ageing of traffic signal plans, statistical analyses of traffic data, development of congestion measures and demand management strategies, traffic control policy, state estimation to establish turning movements from detector flows, traffic modelling including assignment, signal optimisation. Air and noise pollution measurement and prediction, development of on-line traffic noise and air emissions models, forecasting air quality with novel statistical methods, the use of neural networks and fuzzy logic to forecasting duration of incidents, evaluation of the impact of fatal accidents, quantifying the impact on vehicle emissions of illegal car parking, development of strategies to manage event traffic and avoid ‘hotspot’ emissions, measurement of emissions from petrol and diesel engines to study the effect of driver behaviour, study of pollutant concentrations in street Canyons, investigation of traffic activity as a proxy measure for assessing health risk, the impact of traffic measures to reduce the exposure of school children to traffic related pollution, measurement of pedestrian exposure and the development of probability density functions for input to personal exposure models. Validation of pervasive monitoring systems for carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and noise and use of this data to estimate levels of roadside pollution using a canyon model, through integration of real-time traffic measurement use of pervasive sensors to characterise the microenvironments for air quality and noise in urban streets, evaluation of quality bus partnerships as a mechanism for increasing patronaga, decision support system for delivering transport sustainabiltiy through public transport interchange services; understanding travel behaviour and patterns on the carbon emissions from transport across congested urban environments. Underpinning the research activity is the role of Intelligent Transport Systems as technologies for delivering solutions and provider, in real time, spatially and temporally changing data sets.

Other Expertise

Act as an advisor to Local Authorities and Consultants. Knowledge transfer and engagement with Stakeholders, including school children, engineers, transport planners, air quality managers, traffic control engineers, consultants, information providers, health authorities etc. Supporting the commercialising of the mote technology, engaging in the setting up of a spin out company to deliver integration of mote with legacy system data.

Current Work

With colleagues management of the EPSRC:SUE3 4M project the TSB funded EVADINE project and the UKIERI project, funded by the British Council, to set up collaborative research with IIT Delhi and IIT Madras in India. PhD research support in the areas of the effect of driver behaviour on tailpipe emisisons, use of pervasive sensors to automatically create traffic management schemes to manage air quality. Win-win traffic management scenarios for air quality and carbon emissions. Public perceptions of quality delivered by Quality Bus Partnerships. Decision support systems for public transport interchange, Value of productive travel time in the use of ICT on trains and exposure and health impacts of traffic related air pollution.

Future Research

Research in the future will explore funding in parallel streams, acknowledging that the competition for funding will increase with the deterioration of the economic situation. Fundamental to the delivery of sustainability is conservation of energy and resources and transport provision underpins the processes that sustain life, movement of goods, travel to work, leisure, supply of energy etc. In the future there is a need to manage the demand to travel with the supply of energy. However, a balance needs to be achieved with zero impact on the environment and climate mindful that the population is increasing, in the UK from 60m to 80m by 2050. Therefore research in the future will look for systems equilibria which optimises networks to maximise people movements rather than minimising delay to single occupancy cars. There will be a need to understand the barriers to the use of public transport. In the future modelling of traffic networks cannot be carried out in isolation of other networks such as rail and public transport but instead through co-ordination of model outputs to create tools that can explore opportunities for public transport interchange. Challenges include understanding the changing needs of society to capture flexibility into the modelling framework. There is a need to understanding of the role of transport in supporting life, namely the provision of food, providing shelter, energy for heating, lighting and supporting activity (both in-house, leisure, work) at a micro scale in order to inform models at a strategic level. Sustainability has to be delivered at different spatial and temporal scales, managing schemes and systems that maximise returns at a local scale (every school a good school) whilst at the same time capitalising on the fact that some aspects of sustainability requiring strategic management across regions (for example offshore wind farms, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, investment in high speed rail) Research of importance is understanding the public response to change, how to deliver changes in attitudes, creating the research tools that are sufficiently sensitive and yet robust to model sustainability as well as the changing impacts that will result from the introduction of change. Future research will acknowledge the importance of delivering engineering solutions and creating the science base for informing policies that will make a difference. Such policies and schemes need to be created with due concern for their acceptability to the public and their impact, not only on carbon emission, but also on air quality, noise, exposure and health.

Research Roles

My research roles are as a supervisor of undergraduate, MSc and PhD research students. As a pure researcher making substantial contribution to the research methods, data quality, analysis and interprettaion. I am taking a proactive role in supporting colleagues in raising standards in the quality of the research undertaken, mentoring on research methods, proposal writing and in the management of projects. Supporting colleagues in publication of research outputs. Profile raising for TORG Nationally and Internationally.

Postgraduate Supervision

Prof Margaret Bell is currently supervising 6 PhD students namely:
Glyn Rhys-Tyler - earmarked studentship associated with the FUTURES project. Start date October 2007 end date September 2010.
Visalakshmi Suresh of the north-east regional e-Science Centre in the School of Computer Science start date October 2007 – end date September 2012 Information Management for Intelligent Transportation Systems.
Adil Mohammed: Investigating the use of low-cost wireless sensors for pervasive environmental monitoring of traffic emissions.Start Date October 2008
Norhayati Yahya: Evaluating the effects of travel time as an indication for bus reliability. Start date Feb 2005.
Brendan Finn: Best Practices for procuring Sustainable Efficient Bus services in urban areas Start Date August 2000 - December 2010
Patrizia Franco, PhD guest student form the University of Palermo, Decision Support System for public transport Start October 2009 - October 2010
Justin Cairns Start date Feb 2009
Yosritzal Yosritzal The effect of information and communication Technologies to the value of time start October 2009
Hamad Matar ‘Investigating the relationship between indoor and outdoor air pollution near busy, quiet and congested streets’ Start Date March 2010

Esteem Indicators

Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Sustainable Transport. Nominated in the Queen’s 80th Birthday Honour’s list 16th June 2006 services to sustainable transport.
Gave Evidence to the TRansport Select Committee on behalf of the IET July 2009
Learned society engagements
Expert on the Foresight Intelligent Infrastructure attended workshops and produced a state of art review.
Chair of the ITS(UK) Smart Environment Interest Group 2000 to present

Chair Sessions
Smart Environment Interest Group (SEIG) and Freight Interest Group (FIG) of the ITS(UK) on the 23rd April 2006. The theme of the seminar was ‘HGV and their effect on the environment’. Margaret Bell was the chairperson and Anil Namdeo was the honorary secretary of SEIG 18th Annual TRICS Conference in London 2006.

Leadership of consortia
Instrumental in creating the LANTERN Leeds health, Air quality, Noise, Traffic, Emissions Research Network and launching in October 2000 the multidisciplinary research programme which addresses the health impact of transport policy.

Participation in advisory, review, funding or standard setting bodies
CFIT, Commission for Integrated Transport-advisory member (2007-2009)
Chaired the EPSRC Responsive Mode Advisory Systems Prioritising Panel Meeting February 2005, February 2006 and June 2006
NERC Natural Environmental Research Council College (2005-2007)
ESRC, Economic and Social Research Council College (2005-present)
EPSRC: General Engineering/Built Environment Programme College (1995-present)

International External Reviewer
Member of the Appointing Committee for a Professorial Appointment at the KTH, Stockholm, Sweden (2006). Annually review Grant Proposals for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, (2006), for IWT Flanders for the SBO programme, (2005 to present), Canadian Foundation, for the Belgium Government, (1996 to present), for the University Research Grants Council, Hong Kong Government, (1995 – present). Performance Review of the Centre of Research and Technology HELLAS (C.E.R.T.H) HELLENIC Institute of Transport (HIT) on behalf of the General Secretariat for Research and Technology of the Ministry of Development, GSRT, Greece, (2005).

Academic Publications Reviewer
Transportation, Research Record D and E, Journal of Environmental Management, Institute of Electrical Engineers, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, Environment Modelling and Software, Environment and Planning, International Symposium on Transportation and Traffic Theory, ITS World Congress (2006, 2005)

Contribution to government committees, national/international
advisory councils and boards for industry
International Congress and Exhibition ITS in London, UK (2006); Member of the APRIL Air Pollution in London, Committee (2005 – present); Chairperson of the APRIL Noise Interest Group (2005-present); Member of the ITS(UK) Interest Group Chairpersons Committee (2004 – present); Chairperson of the ITS(UK) Smart Environment Interest Group (May 2001-present); Member of the Organising Committee IEE RTIC Conference (2004, 2002, 2000, 1992, 1989);
National Local Government Co-operation agreements: Set up with Leicester City Council, York City Council and Leeds City

Collaborative research
Instrumented City research Facility celebrates its 20 years Anniversary in 2007. Collaboration with York City Council since 1998, Nottingham City Council since 1994 and Leicester City Council since 1987. Substantial support in kind to provide direct computer links with traffic management computers to down load traffic, air quality and meteorological conditions data in real-time for storage in a comprehensive database.

Collaborative research with the Universities:

MESSAGE: Led by Imperial College in collaboration with the Universities of Newcastle, Cambridge, Southampton of Cambridge, Surrey, Bristol and Westminster, Imperial College London, Met Office. Joint Department for Transport and EPSRC an e-Science Application. Total £3.2m
£477,000 ITS (£382,805 fEc) Oct 2006 – Sept 2009

DAPPLE: Dispersion of Air Pollution and Penetration into the Local Environment. In collaboration with the School of Civil Engineering University of Leeds, Universities, EPSRC, £106,000, (share of a total budget of ~£1.5m)

FUTURES project. Joint with ERRI, University of Leeds, the University of Southampton and the University of West of England EPSRC: Sustainable Urban Environment £15,000
Apr 2002 – Mar 2003 then Core project ENTICE, Environment assessment of New Technology with Improved Confidence. EPSRC: Sustainable Urban Environment £236,417, Apr 2004 – Mar 2009

CORI: Travel for annual visits to give lectures and set up collaborative research, University of Palermo £2000

Consultancies, company directorships
Knowledge Transfer Projects Funded whilst at the University of Leeds, total in the recent decade almost £200k

Independent Assessment of Airviro modelling of Scenarios. Leicester City Council
£20,000 Oct 2006 – Mar 2007
INTELCITIES: RETTIS installation and evaluation in Leicester. Phase 1 Leicester City Council
Sept 2006-Mar 2007
WebCOMIS: Web version of the congestion Management Information System Project LCC , £19,073
Extension of WebCOMIS network in Leicester Leicester City Council
Sept 2006-Mar 2007
Automatic Assessment of building height data for 3-D modelling in Leicester- LIDAR2 Leicester City Council
Aug 2006 – Dec 2006
Automatic Assessment of building height data for 3-D modelling in Leicester- LIDAR1 Leicester City Council
Aug 2006 – Dec 2006
Installation of WebCOMIS in Medway SERCO
Sept 2006-Mar 2007
e-Safety review of current knowledge DfT
Nov 2005 – Dec 2006
CIVITAS Advisor on assessment of the environment benefits of Intelligent Transport System Implementation. EU subcontracted to University of Southampton.
€1050 to date
M42 Vehicle Emissions Measurement In collaboration with Imperial College London. This project used the Instrumented City Instrumented Car to carry out an evaluation of the MODEM model to predict vehicle emissions. Highways Agency as Sub-contract to TRL
Market Research activities on eight potential products resulting from ITS research over the recent decade. HEFCE
INTELCITIES: Evaluation of the journey times modelled in COMIT by SCOOT and COMIS compared with those measured with ANPR Phase2 Leicester City Council
Jun 2005 – Mar 2007
Capacity Build Award won in open competition across the University of Leeds.
£18,000 plus 55 days Knowledge Transfer Assistant time
January 2005 – February 2006
Evaluation of the Environmental Impact of the Automatic Traffic Management on the M42. Expert Advisor. Highways Agency sub contracted to Mott Macdonald
£5,000 to date
(Total to ITS in excess of £100,000)
ECAM, Evaluation of Congestion Assessment Models in Surrey. Joint Award Holder with colleague Dr Haibo Chen (50%) Surrey County Council
Completed 2005
TATM_NG, Transferability of Traffic Models A Case Study Nottingham Funded by Nottingham City Council. Joint Award holder with Dr. Haibo Chen (50%) Nottingham City Council
June 2003 – May 2004
DoTED, Design of Traffic Equipment Database, Joint Award Holder with Dr. Haibo Chen. (50%) Leicester City Council
Completed 2004
Jan 02- Dec 02
Origin and Destination measurements in Melton Mowbray. In collaboration with MVA MMDC
Sept 00 - Feb 01
Air Quality Data Analysis Belfast City Council
Jan – Feb 2000
Focus Groups and setting up SATURN. In collaboration with MVAMelton Mowbray
Jan 00 - Jul 00
Instrumented City Activities
Pell Frishman
Jan 98 - Oct 98
Thailand Database Project JMP Consultants
£12,375, Jan 97 - Dec 97

Personal Consultancy activity advisor to Mott MacDonald’s and peer review of the evaluation of the environmental impacts of the implementation of the Automatic Traffic Management Strategies on the M42 funded by the Highways Agency.

Research exploitation in the industry
Outputs from EPSRC funded research include WebCOMIS and the AVTUNE noise model. The WebCOMIS has been implemented as a demonstrator in the Medway Towns and negotiations are taking place with SERCO (funded by Medway Towns) to integrate the congestion algorithms as an API nested in their own proprietary software. The Noise model has been developed with funding from Europe in collaboration with the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute and currently entering discussions on how the software will be licensed given that the Leeds City Council have provided funds to beta test the software to map noise across the whole of West Yorkshire. (This should be confirmed by the due date for the RAE)

EU collaborative research
IMAGINE: Improved Method for the Assessment of the Generic Impact in the Environment. EU: Sixth Framework, 83,640, £57,000, ec 2003 – Nov 2006. HEARTS: Health Effects And Risk of Transport Systems. As subcontractor to Imperial College London in collaboration with WHO, Rome office, KTL, Division of Environmental Health in Kuopio, Finland, ENEA, the Italian Government Agency, INRETS, the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research, Istituto di Studi per I’Integrazione dei Sistemi ISIS Rome, The PRISM Laboratory, University of Versailles Saint Quentin and involves the cities of Leicester, Lille, Athens and Florence. EU: Fifth Framework Project.
€ 53,982. HEAVEN. In collaboration with LCC,UK and partners in Sweden, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Netherlands, EU: Fifth Framework, £103,278, Feb 00 – Feb 04. EQUAL, Electronic services for a better QUAlity of Life. In collaboration with Finsiel Consulenza e Applicazioni Infor SpA (Italy), Ayuntamiento de Bilbao (Spain), Azienda Servizi Municipalizzati del Comune di Brescia (Italy), Cete de l'EST (France), County Council of Bornholm (Denmark), District de l'Agglomeration Messine (France), Etnoteam SpA (Italy), Forschungsinstitut fuer Anwendungsorientierte Wissensverarbeitung (Austria), Gruppo Impresa Finance Srl (Italy), Jasmin Simtec Ltd. (UK), Leicester City Council (UK), Magistrat Linz (Austria), Ronneby Kommun (Sweden), Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Sociedad de Construction Iberica (Spain), Softec (Italy), Telecom Italia SpA (Italy), Télédiffusion de France (France), Institute for transport Studies (UK), Ville de Metz (France). EU: Fourth Framework, £77,988, Jan 98 – Mar 01

At the invitation of, and funded by the Asociacion y Colegio de Ingeniero Industriales in March 2007 delivered tailored presentations to experts and Government officials in Madrid and Vallodolid on separate occasions on the implementation of the instrumented city concept to resolve air quality problems.


4M Monitoring, Modelling, Mapping and Management - EP/E038425/1. Led by the University of De Montfort in collaboration with the University collaboration of Newcastle, Loughborugh, De Montfort, Sheffield and Leeds. Funded by the EPSRC. A Sustainable Urban Environment second call project total £2.5m of which ~£500k to Newcastle University. January 2008 – December 2010.

UKEIRI funded by the British Council PhD Student Exchange on Air Quality Modelling Start Date March 2009.

SWITCH-EV funded by the TSB in collaboration with Newcastle City Council, tnei-Future Transport Systems, OneNE, Nissan. Start Date March 2010

LAMPPOST - In collaboration with Kings College London start date June 2010

MESSAGE: Mobile Environmental Sensing System Across Grid Environments – EP/E002013/01. Led by Imperial College in collaboration with the Universities of Newcastle, Cambridge, Leeds and Southampton. Jointly funded by the Department for Transport and EPSRC. An e-Science Application. Total £3.2m, £477,000 ITS (£382,805 fEc) Of which ~ £90k Transferred to Newcastle University. Oct 2006 – Sept 2009 - Final Report January 2010

FUTURES project (Future Urban Technology Undertaking Research to Enhance Sustainability) - GR/S90881/01. Joint with ERRI and in collaboration with the University of Southampton and the University of West of England. Core project ENTICE, Environment assessment of New Technology with Improved Confidence. EPSRC: Sustainable Urban Environment Call 1, £236,417, Apr 2004 – Mar 2009 - Final Report July 2009. FUTURES PhD studentship. Glyn Rhys-Tyler October 2007 – September 2010

RETEMM: Real world Traffic Emissions Monitoring and Modelling. Joint with ERRI and in collaboration with the cities of York, Leeds and Leicester and Ford. EPSRC -GR/S31136/0, £678,000 to Leeds University and £860 to Newcastle University, Apr 2004 – Final Report January 2008

Platform Grant Renewal LANTERN, Leeds health, Air pollution, Noise, Traffic, Emissions Research Network - GR/T26610/01. Joint with Alison Tomlin Energy Research Resource Institute ERRI, University of Leeds. EPSRC, £440,357 to Leeds University, Jan 04 - Dec 08, £1,632 to Newcastle University, Completed.

Industrial Relevance

The nature of the research carried requires access to the traffic and pollution monitoring and modelling infrastructures and thus relies on the support from local authorities and national governmant agencies. Research is delivered in partnership with local authorities, industries and consultants to mutuak benefit and therefore relevant to a wide range of stakeholders.


Undergraduate Teaching

Contributed Workshop for the Group Projects DSES1: Transport
Supervision of Undergraduate Dissertations for the BSc and MEng undergraduate degrees

Postgraduate Teaching

Contribute to MSc Taught Modules as follows
CIV8004 Quantitative Methods, CIV 8109 Air Pollution and CIV8414 TEMS: Transport and Environment Management for Sustainability
Dissertation Supervisor for MSc projects