The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Vikki Houlden

Research Associate


I joined the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) and Spatial and Analytical Modelling (SAM) as a Post-doctoral Research Assistant at the start of 2019, having completed my PhD in Urban Science from the University of Warwick

My main area of interest is in healthy urban design, in particular the relationship between greenspace and mental wellbeing. I use mostly geo-spatial and mapping methods to examine different characterisations of urban greenspace, including amounts, distribution, accessibility and types, to identify which features may be most important for individual mental health. Through my work, I also test planning assumptions and guidelines, with the aim of making evidence-based recommendations for sustainable future cities. 

During my post here at Newcastle, I hope to expand my research to further consider the broader issues of social inequality and urban migration.

Prior to undertaking my PhD, I studied an MEng in Civil Engineering, followed by an MSc in Data Analytics, both at the University of Warwick. 

I also enjoy travel, baking, yoga, running, reading and cats. 


With a background in Civil Engineering, I have become increasingly interested in the benefits of good urban design. I am currently a researcher at Newcastle University, applying spatial methods to investigate the mental wellbeing benefits of urban greenspace.  

My PhD, titled, “Bringing cities to life: the relationship between urban greenspace and mental wellbeing” was undertaken within Warwick Institute for the Science of Cities  (WISC) at the University of Warwick. I researched how urban greenspaces are associated with improved mental health, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial methods to analyse large UK data sets, exploring which characteristics and measures of greenspace seem to be most beneficial to individual mental wellbeing. I aimed to make health-based recommendations for urban greenspace design.