Department of Geography
Visualising future landscapes; Portsmouth in the year 3000
Dr Mark Hardiman recently took part in the Portsmouth Café Scientifique series, where members of the public get to discuss issues with working scientists. Mark considered how the climate and landscape of Portsmouth will change over the next 1000 years, and put these changes into context by considering how this area has changed in the recent geological past. In particular the discussion considered how global policy decisions surrounding reducing greenhouse emissions taken over the last few decades will have far reaching consequences, indeed potentially the survival or submergence of Portsea Island by AD 3000.
This month, geography students who participated 2017's Cold Climates field trip to New Hampshire (USA) and/or 2016's European Fieldclass trip to Arctic Lapland (Finland) converged at Albert Road's Balti House for a reunion before completing their degrees this summer. Supervising staff were invited to the join the students as a token of their appreciation.
Find out more about the department's field trips
From left to right: Meghan Tomlinson, Apichol Thapthimthong, James Spackman, Dr Nick Pepin, Martin Schaefer, Dr Tara Woodyer, Spencer Read, Tom Singleton, Richard Hargreaves, Emma Gale, Dr Mark Hardiman, Sharon Jakobek, Tom Gardner.
Royal Geographical Society funding award
Linley Hastewell was successful in securing funding of £500 from the Royal Geographical Society’s Dudley Stamp Memorial Award.
The funds were awarded for PhD research into the impacts of contemporary storm activities on the transport of boulders at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. Existing research into boulder mobility focuses on dynamic coastlines subjected to considerable wave activity, such as the North Atlantic. Despite exhibiting distinct boulder assemblages indicative of storm events, to date, there is no research relating to coastal areas subjected to low to moderate wave activity such as that within the Solent.
The research aims to monitor and quantify the mobility of large boulders, some weighing in excess of five tonnes using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. This is effectively a miniaturized version of the anti-theft tags used in the retail industry to prevent theft. Whilst this technology has been used previously to observe sediment transport the tags haven't been used in boulders of this size before. Over 100 RFID tags have been embedded into boulders across two research sites. Each tag has a GPS coordinate recorded at the commencement of the study. Subsequent surveys relocate the tagged boulders after storm events and a further GPS coordinate is recorded. Over time this creates a transport pathway for those mobile boulders indicating the direction and degree to which transport has occurred.
Storm wave conditions within the Solent have the ability to mobilise large boulders weighing over 5 tonnes. This image highlights storm activity following Storm Katie in March 2016. Previous boulder location is highlighted by the yellow circle; the arrow denotes the direction of transport.
Researcher presents to University of Malta students and academics
On a recent field work visit to Malta, Linley Hastewell was fortunate to get the opportunity to present his research to a group of Geography students and academics from the University of Malta. Linley's research focuses on the response of rocky coasts to the impacts of contemporary storm events, particularly the ability of storms, and the subsequent wave activity to transport large boulders.
The Geography department in Malta are also engaged in similar research on the effect of extreme wave events in the Mediterranean. So, there was much reciprocated interest in the respective areas of research.
Linley commented, "It was a really worthwhile experience being able to communicate my research to a broader audience. It also provided a fantastic opportunity to discuss the potential for collaboration in the future. There is certainly interest on both sides and we may look to seek joint funding to facilitate further research in the years ahead."
Portsmouth Geographers at annual Royal Geographical Society Postgraduate Forum Mid-Term Conference
Wednesday 19th April marked the beginning of the annual Royal Geographical Society Postgraduate Forum Mid-Term Conference held at Cardiff University, attended by a number of our MRes and PhD students. The conference was spread over two and a half days, beginning with a keynote talk by self-titled guerrilla geographer, Daniel Raven-Ellison, on his campaign to make London the world’s first National Park City.
The next two days gave postgraduate students from all realms of geography the opportunity to present their papers with topics as far ranging as migration and citizenship, resistance, riot and action and valuing nature and environment. Our own Cornelia van Diepen presented a paper entitled “Understanding health risk co-behaviours through Twitter”. As well as paper sessions the conference offered the opportunity for research group networking events, specialist workshops and poster presentations. Portsmouth’s Stuart Dick and Katherine Brailsford both presented posters on their current postgraduate research.
Overall the conference provided the opportunity for networking and discovery regarding the depth and scale of research within our discipline. Roll on next year!
Understanding why Volcanoes erupt - new research on Santorini Volcano, Greece
Santorini is often described as one of the most dangerous volcanos in Europe, and indeed a catastrophic eruption there during the Late Bronze Age (1627-1600 BC) is thought to have directly contributed to the downfall of the Minoan civilisation. While Santorini is a well-studied volcano there is still much uncertainty surrounding the timing of past eruptions, of which many have occurred during the recent geological past. These gaps in our knowledge limit our ability to understand what may control these most dangerous, but awe-inspiring of natural phenomena over longer timeframes.
A new project led by Dr Chris Satow of Kingston University (funded 'in-kind' by the Natural Environment Research Council, £54,000 value) aims to answer some of these questions. The project involves a large collaboration of international researchers including Dr Mark Hardiman of the Department of Geography, University of Portsmouth. During March 2017 Mark and Chris both visited Santorini volcano in order to sample the volcanic rocks, detailed geochemical analyses of these will now be undertaken.
Dr Mark Hardiman also recently jointly coordinated the ‘The European Night of Volcanoes’ outreach event with Dr Carmen Solana from the SEES Department. This was the University of Portsmouth contribution to a series of events that ran across Europe.
Five Maps that will change how you see the world
Professor Donald Houston, Head of the Department of Geography, has written an article for academic website, The Conversation. The article is about how different displays of the world map can change our perspective of different parts of the world. Five different projections are discussed in the article, including pros and cons of using each with the conclusion that neither is more correct than the other, that we need to see the world from different perspectives.
See the article on The Conversation.
Geog Soc Careers Networking event- a huge success
Wednesday 1 March saw the first Geog Soc Careers Networking event take place. The event was a huge success with some 70 students from all levels of study attending.
The event was planned jointly by academics in the Department and the Geog Soc. This partnership and extensive marketing of the event through a range of social media was key to engaging with, and enthusing students about the event.
Dr Jonathan Potts from the Department of Geography noted that on the day, the success of the event came down to inviting alumni to speak as they knew the Department and curriculum and the current students could really relate to such recent graduates. Each speaker gave a short presentation on their career to date, how their Geography degree related to the world of work and importantly provided tips and experiences about getting into their chosen professions.
The variety of alumni careers and organisations was also highly beneficial - these ranged from the commercial sector with IBM, to government environmental agencies - Natural England, software companies - ESRI to local authorities - Havant Borough Council to project management consultancies - Paul Basham Associates.
Lucy Smedley from Geog Soc stated that "The event offered a valuable opportunity for students to relate their academic lives to the opportunities that are available to them in the future, as well as understand the ways to achieve success throughout the application process. This event specifically stressed to the multitude of industries available to geographers and the relevance and applicability of their Geography degree from the University of Portsmouth".
Funding success for Glaciology Research Group
The members of the University of Portsmouth’s Glaciology Research Group (UoPG) have managed to secure a number of research and travel grants for the 2017 fieldwork season. Harold Lovell and Clare Boston, both senior lecturers in the department, have been awarded £937 from the Quaternary Research Association (QRA) for their planned fieldwork in Cumbria, UK. The project will employ the department’s ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to investigate the subsurface architecture of the Brampton kame belt. This is one of the largest glaciofluvial systems in the UK and holds valuable information about the deglaciation of the last British-Irish Ice Sheet.
The group’s PhD students Lauren Knight and Paul Weber have been equally successful in obtaining funding. Both have received grants from the university’s Science Faculty to support research placements overseas. Lauren will be working with the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) in Dublin on a project closely related to her PhD research in the Wicklow Mountains, Ireland. Paul, whose PhD research focuses on plateau icefields in Norway, will collaborate with the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) in Oslo.
In addition, Paul has been successful with two major fieldwork grants. He has been awarded the QRA’s New Research Workers’ Award (£900) and the Royal Geographical Society’s RGS-IBG Postgraduate Research Award (£2,000) to support his upcoming field campaign at the Øksfjordjøkelen icefield, northern Norway. His project will document the recessional landforms and retreat patterns of the icefield since the Little Ice Age (LIA) and examine how icefield recession dynamics are influenced by local topographic and hypsometric factors. The findings of this project will be useful to help predict the effect of future climate change on the retreat dynamics of small Arctic ice masses.
Altogether, a series of funding successes for UoPG.
Improving the biodiversity of green roofs
Using living organisms such as bacteria or fungi, as an alternative to chemical fertilisers, can improve the soil biodiversity of green roofs, according to new research by Geography's Dr Heather Rumble.
Green roofs are covered with plants and vegetation and are increasingly used in cities to make buildings more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. However, high winds, prolonged UV exposure and unpredictable water availability mean that many green roofs lack nutrients, which can limit plant growth and the biodiversity of soil organisms, which are responsible for the quality of nutrients in the soil. This could have implications for the environmental and economic benefits of green roofs.
The study, which has been published in the journal Ecological Engineering, was funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council, Symbio Ltd and Laverstoke Park.
RPAS (Drones) Update
Recommendations made on achieving inclusive growth in cities
Professor Donald Houston presented a series of recommendations on how to make economic growth more socially inclusive to the political leaders of the Scottish Cities Alliance (SCA) - a partnership of seven local authorities and the Scottish Government. Inequality is widening in most developed economies, particularly in cities which contain the greatest concentrations of wealth and poverty. Key recommendations on measures that would help boost economic growth and social inclusion included:
i) concessionary bus travel for those aged 16-25;
ii) affordable childcare from the end of maternity/paternity leave for those for those in employment;
iii) introduce the ‘social case’ alongside the ‘business case’ in the appraisal of public investments;
iv) introduce an Inclusive Growth Award for private investments contributing to both economic and social agendas.
Suggestions were made for how to implement i) and ii) on a cost-neutral basis through the realignment of existing policies.
Geography students present their findings live
In October/November 2016 a group of students travelled to Mt Washington, New Hampshire as part of their final year study of Cold Environments and their response to climate change (See previous news story). While they were there they collected a range of data, visited the Mount Washington Observatory and experienced a lot of weather along the way, mostly cold and wet, with a lovely day on the summit thrown in for good measure. Over the last few months they have been crunching the numbers and analysing the data collected on this trip for their unit reports and put together a group presentation. Last week their work culminated in a live presentation of their findings to staff at the Mount Washington Observatory in the US. Via webcam they were able to interact with MWObs Staff and a lively Q& ensued with good feedback from the US. All parties involved agreed the field trip and live presentation was a huge success and all hoped that we could repeat this trip in the future.
Atkins geography alumni speaks to current students
Anna Craciun a graduate of the Department of Geography came to the department on the 10th February 2017 to give a talk to current students about careers with Atkins and in transport planning. Anna graduated in 2015 from the department with a degree in BSc Geography with GIS and is based at Atkins in Manchester. Her talk covered a number of aspects related to employability. In particular, she discussed the various opportunities available to the students more generally and specifically within Atkins as an organisation. Anna explained to the students how she has applied her degree within her career. She also talked about the transport industry and the potential role that geographers can play within this industry as transport planners. This talk was given as one of a series of events as part of the Department of Geography employability programme.
Long Service Awards 2016
At the annual Long Service Awards last month, the University was proud to celebrate the achievement of 16 members of staff for 25 years’ service. Geography's Dr. Rob Inkpen, Reader in Physical Geography, was amongst those celebrated.
Human Resources hosted the event on Friday 16 December, with Peter Brook, HR Director, welcoming staff to the ceremony, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Galbraith, presenting certificates in recognition of the dedication and commitment of our staff.
The Punch Bowl String Quartet provided music during the event. Their violinist and Director, Sarah Malcolm has played with the London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic orchestras previously.
Peter Brook said: ‘It was good to get the opportunity to celebrate the contribution of people who have dedicated so much of their working life to the success of our University.’
Nature or Nurturing? An investigation into the application of soilless technology in urban agriculture communities
A team led by Heather Rumble has been successful in obtaining £3000 from UoP's Cluster for Sustainable Cities Seed Funding Call. Joining Heather are Martin Schaefer, also from the department of geography, and Silvio Caputo of the School of Architecture. The pilot project funded aims to determine if hydroponic systems are a socially viable food production method for community gardeners and other urban citizens. In partnership with Fratton BigLocal and Food Portsmouth, the team will be installing a hydroponic system in the summer of 2017 at a local infant school and running events and workshops for local stakeholders.
Dr Heather Rumble is a Co-Investigator on a recent successful application to the Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop Grants Scheme. The team, led by Dr Fabiano Lemes of the UoP School of Architecture, were awarded £42 000 to organise a workshop on the theme of "renaturing cities".
The workshop will take place in partnership with the Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil and is due to take place in Goiânia in July 2017. The main aim of the project is to promote the international exchange of knowledge and experiences about novel theories, strategies and methods for re-naturing cities. The team will be inviting applications from researchers from both countries in the near future and are especially interested to hear from ECR's. Dr Rumble, as an expert on green roof ecology, will be leading the research methods strand of the workshop. Dr Silvio Caputo, also from the School of Architecture, is also part of the team, specialising in urban agriculture.
Express FM Interview
On October 8th, Dr. Carol Ekinsmyth did a radio interview for Express FM about Geography as a subject to study at university. In the interview, Carol had the chance to explain how geography is a discipline that is centrally concerned with the major issues facing human society today; environmental management, climate change, geopolitics, globalisation, migration, inequality and social and economic wellbeing. She also outlined our use of leading technology (GIS and remote sensing) to map and understand the ways in which the planet is changing. The interview was scheduled to coincide with the public lecture given at the university by Portsmouth Geography graduate, Karen Blackett OBE. Karen Blackett is Chairwoman of MediaCom, the UK’s largest media agency. In her talk, she spoke about how geography, and the wide ranging skills it involves, led her into this career.
Read more about Careers with Geography.
Portsmouth Coastal Defence Strategies event
Staff and students are invited to an event that will explain the nature of coastal defence strategies and demonstrate newly-completed and proposed major coastal defence schemes around Portsmouth.
As part of a long-standing professional relationship between the University and Royal Haskoning DHV (RHDHV), this day-long event has been organised by Dr Jonathan Potts and Dr Malcolm Bray from the Department of Geography. It involves the RHDHV regional office, the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership (ESCP) and students studying MSc Coastal and Marine Resource Management (CMRM).
Mount Washington Fieldtrip for Undergraduates
Contours Magazine Issue 2
Issue 2 of our Contours Magazine is now available.
The newsletter of the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Geography. Whether you are a current, future or former student, or you are simply interested in Geography, we extend a very warm welcome to you.
In this issue we look to how researchers in the department have shed light on fire history and human arrival in North America, are appealing for help from the public to save place names in the UK, have recreated the figurehead for famous Tudor Mary Rose warship and finally celebrate some of the achievements of our students past and present!
Geographer part of winning multidisciplinary team in Land Rover BAR sustainability challenge
The Challenge: Work in teams to develop innovative solutions that help address the sustainability challenges of world-class sailing team, Land Rover BAR.
This was the gauntlet thrown down to students by Land Rover BAR, as part of their quest to bring the America’s Cup home to Britain. The students had to find a creative solution to a problem in one of the team’s three target areas of sustainable work: Driving Innovation, Inspiring Excellence and Smarter Futures.
Seven teams competed in the competition jointly run with the University of Portsmouth Environment Network, taking part in numerous workshops and discussions with Land Rover BAR’s in-house Sustainability Manager Susie Tomson and Sustainability Officer Amy Munro to develop and enhance their proposals.
During the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth event in July, the two finalists were selected by judges from the University of Portsmouth, Land Rover BAR and 11th Hour Racing.
We're delighted that one of our third year geography students, Anna McArdle, was part of the winning multi-disciplinary group, which also included engineers and computer scientists. The team's proposal was a sophisticated way to improve and optimise the current rainwater harvesting system, while using hydrogen fuel cells to derive further renewable energy to add to the 432 solar panels already installed in the building.
The winning team secured a two-week work experience opportunity with Land Rover BAR. During this time, they conducted a feasibility study of their winning project. Sustainability Officer, Amy Munro, said: "The team have already made some changes to our facilities based on the project to increase the amount of rainwater we capture."
Well done Anna and co!
See the article on www.landroverbar.com
Photo by Martin Schaefer, GIS Manager
Geography Achieves Athena Swan Departmental Bronze Award
We are delighted to announce that the Department of Geography has been successful in its application for an Athena Swan Departmental Bronze Award. The award is granted by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), a national organisation that supports universities and colleges in building an inclusive culture that values the benefits of equality and diversity. The award reflects the progress of the department in recognising and combating the barriers to progression and success of both staff and students as well as its work in identifying, challenging and beginning to change practices that disadvantage individuals and groups.
Rob Inkpen, who led the departmental Athena Swan team in compiling the submission, said, ‘This is a great achievement for the department reflecting the hard work of the Athena Swan team and highlighting the department's commitment to creating a working environment that values equality and diversity’.
Re-conceptualising Urban Landscapes of Work
Carol Ekinsmyth (Geography, University of Portsmouth) and Darja Reuschke (Geography, University of Southampton) have been awarded £18,800 by the Urban Studies Foundation for a seminar series entitled 'Re-conceptualising Urban Landscapes of Work'.
The series will run across three 2-day events and the first, on 'The spatial reconfiguration of work in cities' will be held in Portsmouth April 20/21 2017 (the subsequent seminars will be held in Southampton and Athens).
Each event has seven already confirmed speakers and a further call for papers will be released soon. The seminars will lead to a journal special issue and an edited book.
Help save GB place names from being lost forever
A new online project – GB1900 – is calling for volunteers to help make sure local place-names can live on rather than be lost for ever.
GB1900 aims to create a complete list of the estimated three million place-names on early Ordnance Survey maps of Britain. It will be a free, public resource, of particular use to local historians and genealogists.
The project partners include the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales, and the University of Portsmouth.
New professional partnership for Geography
An exciting new educational partnership has been agreed between the Department of Geography and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).
The agreement will give students access to a huge range of resources to advance their employability, including links to professional consultants, environmental management companies and access via a variety of media to the latest developments in the field.
Geography student wins best presentation
The inaugural Science Faculty Postgraduate Research Student Conference was held on 8th July to highlight the breadth of postgraduate research across the Science Faculty.
The conference was organised by a committee of postgraduate students, (including our own Lauren Knight) and provided an opportunity for second and third year PhD research students from across the faculty to disseminate their research to peers and other attendees.
The Geography department was represented by Lauren Knight, who presented her research on dynamics and timings of glaciation in the Wicklow mountains and Linley Hastewell who discussed his work on the effect of storm waves on boulder transport and shore platform evolution at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight.
Attendees voted for the best oral presentations with the winner receiving £50 Amazon vouchers. We're pleased to report the winner was Linley Hastewell.
Prestigious honour for former professor
Pioneering research at the University of Portsmouth has seen a former professor elected as a Fellow of the British Academy, the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences.
Professor Kelvyn Jones is a world leader in the geography of health. He joined the University of Portsmouth as a lecturer in 1984, becoming a professor ten years later, and in 1997, head of the Department of Geography.
In this time, Professor Jones broke new ground with a series of seminal papers, and with the highly influential book, Health, Disease and Society, co-authored with Professor Graham Moon, then also at Portsmouth, and now at the University of Southampton.
Glaciology PhD students win multiple research awards
For the second year in a row, a PhD student of the department’s glaciology research group has been successful with a funding application for the Dudley Stamp Memorial Award. Paul Weber has been awarded the £500 grant, which is administered by the Royal Geographical Society, to support his upcoming fieldwork at the Hardangerjøkulen glacier in Norway. The fieldwork will investigate the role of landscape topography and glacier hypsometry in the response of Hardangerjøkulen to changes in climate, through the examination of ice-marginal processes and patterns of recession.
In 2015, Lauren Knight received this award to support her ongoing field research in the Wicklow Mountains, Ireland. Her fieldwork aims to establish the timings and dynamics of Late Quaternary glaciations in this mountain region, building a coherent reconstruction of ice cap recessional dynamics during deglaciation through the Last Glacial-Interglacial Transition. Earlier this year, both PhD students were also awarded Postgraduate Research Grants from the British Society of Geomorphology worth £500 each. Lauren has also recently secured €1,000 of funding from the International Association of Sedimentologists for further fieldwork this summer.
The combined awards amount of £2,300 for this year alone, so far, reflects the high research profile of the department’s glaciology group.
Study sheds new light on human fire history
Human populations in North America might have used fire as a tool thousands of years earlier than previously thought, according to new research.
The study from the University of Portsmouth has cast new light on the fire history of the California Channel Islands, a chain of eight islands located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California.
The study found a significant period of charcoal deposition, which occurred between 12,500 to 14,000 years ago, possibly coinciding with the arrival of the first humans on the island.
Dr Mark Hardiman, senior lecturer in Geography and lead author of the study, said: “This study allows us to paint a much better picture of what these early occupied landscapes would have looked like.
Alaskan alumnus visits department
The Department of Geography has been playing host to Peter Hanley, who graduated from the Department in 1968 as one of the second cohort of students. Peter visited the Department with his wife Uni and was shown around by Dr Dominic Fontana. After graduating, Peter followed a career in the oil industry and now lives in Anchorage, Alaska.
Fieldwork on the 'roof of Africa'
In late August/early September a team of geographers set off for fieldwork on Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (the roof of Africa at 5895m) to continue their critical work examining the causes of the ice-field decline on the mountain. The summit ice fields have been retreating for over a century and current estimates are that they may disappear by 2040. The research team led by Dr Nick Pepin, has a transect of 22 weather stations across the mountain, measuring how atmospheric moisture moves up from the lower forested slopes to the much drier summit region. Collecting weather data is of course critical to understanding how snow does or does not fall on the summit. The team now has 11 years of data for the SW slope and three years of data from the NE slope, as data was successfully retrieved from all the stations.
From left to right: Simon Mtuy, Owner SENE; Dr Clare Boston; John, Guide SENE; Dr Harold Lovell; Dr Nick Pepin; Dr Gary Pike; Jackson, Guide SENE.
Issue One of departmental newsletter Contours Magazine is now available. Whether you are a current, future or former student, or you are simply interested in Geography, we extend a very warm welcome to you.
Department of Geography working to enhance employability
Dr Jonathan Potts, Principal Lecturer in geography, and Linley Hastewell, Laboratory Manager, represented the University this week at a Royal Geographical Society meeting to share best practice on developing employability.
The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the UK’s learned society and professional body for geography. They are a world leader in advancing geography and supporting its practitioners in the UK and across the world.
Pint of Science 2016
Senior Lecturer in the Geography Department, Dr Mark Hardiman, delighted audiences at the national science festival, Pint of Science this May with a talk on Neanderthals. Dr Hardiman took the audience on a journey through time, discussing Neanderthal geography, culture and biology before ending with a discussion on how our distant relatives may have died out, as part of the "Planet Earth: Evolution in the Pub" theme night. Highlights of the evening included a "guess the Neanderthal" skeleton quiz and a lively discussion with the audience on the interaction between Neanderthals and early humans.
The talk took place in Portsmouth pub, The Fat Fox, along with a talk on Pterosaurs delivered by Steve Vidovic of SEES. Pint of Science is a national science festival, where academics discuss areas of research in pubs. The Universtiy of Portsmouth was one of many Universities taking part this year in 12 countries and held nine events across the city, covering topics from neuroscience to particle physics. Two PhD students in the department, Linley Hastewell and Cornelia van Diepen were also integral to the festival, helping organise the Planet Earth and Our Body theme nights. All events were near sell-outs, so we hope to be involved again in 2017 - watch this space.
Graduate lands Cambodia job
Congratulations to one of our recent graduates, Gemma D’Souza, who is getting ready to move to Cambodia having secured a position on a teaching English abroad scheme.
“Although becoming a teacher was never my plan, I am excited to make the move to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, to become an English teacher in a few months time. Whilst on my year abroad, I also plan to pursue my passion for Feature Journalism, writing and blogging travel articles freelance. Ultimately though, after the success of my dissertation (receiving the Colin Warner Memorial Prize for best undergraduate dissertation and being nominated for the Royal Geographical Alfred Steers Prize of best dissertation in the UK), I am eager to pursue a career in the human aspects of natural disasters and management. Hence whilst I travel across South East Asia and Africa, I will constantly be on the lookout for opportunities that may arise in that, or a similar field, such as working alongside the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) or larger organisations such as the Red Cross or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).”
We wish her all the best and look forward to getting a postcard!
Geography "must-have A-level"
We are very pleased to see a discipline we are passionate about receive well overdue praise as The Guardian names Geography as the must-have A-level. This year Geography has seen the largest rise in numbers of any of the major A-level subjects. Numbers were up 13% on last year, with 37,100 individuals opting for our diverse discipline. The reason for the change? The Guardian believes it is because ‘geography is a subject for our times’ and we whole-heartedly agree. Geography’s multidisciplinary nature encourages ‘ways of seeing and thinking that make geographers eminently employable’. Our students possess the skills needed to work across the physical and social sciences, a trait increasingly valued by employers. Evidence from the Higher Education Careers Services Unit supports this. According to the latest information, fewer Geography graduates (5.8%) were still job-hunting six months after graduating than the national average (7.3%).
Geography Graduation Day
The department were very proud to see the 2015 student cohort graduate this month and enjoyed giving them a good send off at the post-ceremony reception held in the Portland Building, complete with Pimms, fizz and student prizes. Congratulations to the following graduates on their well-deserved awards:
Best Undergraduate Student
Best Undergraduate Dissertation Prize
Gemma's dissertation has also been nominated for the Royal Geographical Society's Alfred Steers Dissertation Prize, which is awarded to the best UK undergraduate dissertation
Departmental Prize for Excellent Performance and Services to the Department
Departmental Prize for Excellent Performance
See our departmental Twitter feed for more news and pictures from the day: https://twitter.com/PortsmouthGeog
Stay in touch, graduates!
New professor announced
It is with great pleasure that we announce the well-deserved promotion of Dr Liz Twigg to Professor in Human Geography. Liz’s research principally concerns multilevel modelling of health outcomes, behaviours and community well-being. This work also covers the development and application of multilevel small area synthetic estimation. In recent years Liz’s research has also examined the geography of compulsory admission to secondary mental health care, and geographies of smoking, including smoking identity and the interplay between cannabis and tobacco consumption. Speaking about the promotion, Dr Simon Leonard, Head of Department, said: “We’re delighted at this timely recognition of quality and excellence in teaching and research”.
Geography graduate lands Oz Master's degree place
Geography graduate nominated for WICE award
The Department of Geography is delighted to hear that Stephanie Keay, Environmental Advisor at Skanska UK and a graduate of the Department, has been nominated for 'Best Young Woman in Construction' at the European Women in Construction and Engineering (WICE) Awards.
Keay, who graduated from the BA Geography course in 2012, was put forward for the award as part of her work with Skanska UK and the Department of Geography has its fingers crossed that Keay will take home the award when the winners are announced at a ceremony scheduled for the beginning of May.
Dr Brian Baily, Senior Lecturer in Geography and Environmental Assessment, commented on the nomination: "Stephanie is a role model and inspiration to all the young women in our department. I often use her as an example of what can be achieved by an individual with drive and determination. Stephanie has also helped to change the areas that many women would consider suitable for a career path."
The aim of the WICE Awards is to create role models for women considering a career in these sectors, while encouraging companies to employ and train more women in these industries. For a full list of finalists, please see the WICE Awards finalists page.
A Vision of Britain data featured in press
A Vision of Britain Through Time, an analysis of two centuries of data by the University of Portsmouth, has been featured in a number of regional press websites.
With each region keen to examine their area's census data, journalists from the the Birmingham Mail, Get West London and the Manchester Evening News have published articles comparing this data from past and current times.
Each article also features an interactive widget that visualises the data for readers.
Postgraduate course featured as part of Guardian case study
The Department of Geography's MSc Coastal and Marine Resource Management course has been featured in The Guardian newspaper as part of a study into how postgraduate courses offer "a good way" to switch career paths.
Dr Jonathan Potts, the course leader, stated many of his students have first degrees in geography, biology or environmental science, but two of his "most successful ones had studied pharmacology and history".
The Guardian goes on to interview Adam Sennit, a student on the course, who took a first degree in outdoor adventure management but chose to enroll on the MSc course because "it is well connected to various people and organisations working in the field".
In addition, the course's "excellent record for employability" attracted him to take up further study in Portsmouth.
To read the full article from The Guardian, click below to view online or download .PDF documents of the piece.
|"Change of heart? Change course" article||.PDF 464KB|
|Making waves - interview with Adam Sennit||.PDF 290KB|
New map predicts UK youth smoking
New figures released today estimate smoking rates among young people in local areas for the first time.
Modelled by University of Portsmouth and the University of Southampton and commissioned by Public Health England and NICE, the figures are estimates of youth smoking rates for every local authority, ward and local NHS level – based on factors known to predict young people smoking.
The data will help local organisations to respond to high levels of smoking within their areas and will be available on PHE’s Local Health website.
Dr Liz Twigg, University of Portsmouth, said: “We know with some certainty which factors increase the likelihood of young people starting to smoke – ethnicity, social class and parental behaviour all play a role. For the first time we can combine these factors, national surveys of youth smoking data and what we know about local communities to identify areas where young people are likely to have a higher risk of being a smoker.”
To read more about the study, click here.
Playing with future of British armed forces
Social scientists are to examine whether action figure dolls help form children’s opinions on war and have a role to play in shaping the future of our armed forces.
It is the first time research has examined the role of toys in the making of young citizens. The £492,508 project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
The researchers – Dr Tara Woodyer, of the University of Portsmouth, Dr Sean Carter, of the University of Exeter, and Professor Klaus Dodds, of Royal Holloway University of London – have expertise in human geography, children’s play, childhood studies, geopolitics and the culture of war.
Tara Woodyer said: “Play has frequently been overlooked as irrelevant to how people come to understand the world, yet it is precisely this apparent banality, the taken for granted nature of play that allows its role to go unchallenged.
“Toys, and how children play with them, are not just a response to the world, they help shape our culture.
“The role of action figure dolls has been unduly neglected, especially given the enormous academic attention focused on their female equivalent, Barbie.”
Homegrown weather stats reveal rainiest January on record
This winter looks to be shaping up to be record breaking in terms of rainfall and mild temperatures.
The figures below are taken from the Department of Geography weather station on the roof of Buckingham building. This station has been operated continuously since 1995.
Rainfall for December 184.8 mm (257% of average) - wettest on record
Rainfall for January 168.2 mm (251% of average) - wettest on record
Average figures are based on the period 1995-2013 (18 years).
There have been isolated wetter months, e.g. October 2000 with 201.6 mm, but rarely such a sustained period of high rainfall. The autumn of 2000 was broadly similar and led to extensive flooding. This winter may exceed this. So far February has recorded about 60 mm (average for whole month is 45 mm).
Other interesting facts. It rained every day in January apart from Jan 11.
58.2 mm fell during the storm on 23 December (daily total). This is not the highest daily total we have had because sometimes summer thunderstorms create greater one-off values.
We have not had 1 air frost yet this winter, and the lowest temperature recorded so far is 0.5degC on 20 November. It will be highly unusual if we register a frost-less winter, but this looks possible, with only just over two weeks to go.
Emerging New Researchers in the Geographies of Health and Impairment
Postgraduates and early career researchers from Geography (along with colleagues from Southampton University) have have organised the 17th Emerging New Researchers in the Geographies of Health and Impairment conference to be held at University of Portsmouth later this month (19th and 20th June 2014).
The two day informal conference for postgraduates and early career researchers will provide an excellent opportunity for researchers to showcase work in a welcoming and supportive environment from peers who have a shared interest in the geographies of health and impairment. The long-standing conference will include papers from researchers in and outside of geography disciplines who are involved in research in health or health care within a social, geographical or environmental context.
The conference is financially supported by Elsevier, the Royal Geographical Society’s Geography of Health Research Group, Geography and Environment at the University of Southampton and the Faculty of Science at the University of Portsmouth.
More information can be found on the conference website
Students rate department teaching highly
The Department of Geography was very proud to see several staff nominated for awards across a range of areas in the recent Student Led Teaching Awards.
Dr Brian Baily was nominated for the Best Personal Tutor award.
Dr Alastair Pearson was nominated for the Most Innovative award.
Linley Hastewell was nominated for the Outstanding Learner Support award.
Dr Julia Brown was nominated for the Overall Impact award.
The Department is very pleased to receive this recognition for excellent quality teaching and student support.
Conference for new researchers held at uni
The 17th Emerging New Researchers in the Geographies of Health & Impairment (ENRGHI) conference took place on the 19th and 20th of June 2014 in Portsmouth and was jointly hosted by postgraduate researchers at the University of Portsmouth and University of Southampton. Researchers at any stage of their postgraduate studies, and those who had recently graduated, were welcomed to present their work in a supportive and friendly environment with peers at similar career stages. The conference attracted over 30 delegates from across the UK and also as far as Australia and Switzerland.
Twenty-eight researchers presented their work across the two day event and discussed their research in several areas including; health service planning, public health, carescapes, maternal health, malaria, health-related behaviours, chronic kidney disease, migration and health, care farming and therapeutic landscapes. Researchers also discussed their implementation of traditional and contemporary research methodologies including video-ethnography, participatory mapping, synthetic estimation techniques, critical policy and practice analysis.
Keynote speakers included Dr Andy Power, Dr Andy Tatem and Professor Graham Moon from the University of Southampton as well as Dr Geoff De Verteuil (Cardiff University) and Dr Liz Twigg (University of Portsmouth). The conference also included a discussion panel session with four recent graduates about their last few months as PhD students and their experiences as post-doctoral researchers and career progression in academia. Ann Corney (executive publisher at Elsevier) also presented a session on journal publishing.
Prizes for best presentation were awarded to Emma Rowland (Kings College London), Bernadine Satariano (University of Durham) and Rich Gorman (Cardiff University).
Department promotes excellent staff members
The Department of Geography has had cause for celebration of late with a series of staff promotions across human and physical geography.
Humphrey Southall has been promoted to Professor in Historical Geography. Humphrey’s research examines the history of the North-South divide in Britain, the use of data models for gazetteers and geospatial ontologies, the long-run impacts of locality characteristics on health inequalities, and the role of travellers in the development of political life.
Rob Inkpen has been promoted to Reader in Physical Geography. Rob’s research spans mapping and monitoring decay forms and process on heritage structures, experimental and field analysis of decay processes, explanation and causality in geomorphology and hazards and risk in the physical environment. Find out more:
Nick Pepin has been promoted to Reader in Climate Science. Nick’s research concerns analysis of 20th century temperature change in mountainous regions using a variety of primary and secondary datasets. This work has been undertaken in collaboration with many international organisations including the Climate Variability and Trends Group at the Air Resources Laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China.
Speaking about the new promotions, Simon Leonard, Head of the Department of Geography, said: “It’s great to see excellence being rewarded through the promotion of my colleagues. Hopefully there’ll be more to follow.”
Geography Graduation Day
The department were very proud to see the 2014 student cohort graduate this month and enjoyed giving them a good send off at the post-ceremony reception held in the Eldon Building, complete with Pimms, fizz and student prizes. Congratulations to the following graduates on their well-deserved awards:
Best Undergraduate Dissertation Prize
Best Undergraduate Student
Departmental Prize for Excellent Performance and Services to the Department
Departmental Prize for Excellent Performance
See our departmental Twitter feed for more news and pictures from the day: https://twitter.com/PortsmouthGeog
Stay in touch, graduates!
Department Tests new 3D Scanning Capabilities on Southsea Castle
Researchers have been using the Department's new scanning instrument, the Leica Nova MS50 MultiStation, to capture 3D scans of Southsea Castle's exterior, battlements and courtyard.The complex shape of this castle, built in 1544, provides an interesting and exciting subject to test the capabilities of this new instrument. The castle is part of a series of fortifications constructed by Henry VIII around the English coastline to protect the island nation from invaders. The digital data produced will be made available to the castle after processing for use in their visitor displays.
Lecturer wins award for inspiring research
An inspired idea by a University of Portsmouth geographer has resulted in the University winning a top award for making knowledge more accessible.
Professor Humphrey Southall set his first year geography students the task of finding out more about villages in England whose entries on Wikipedia amounted to just one or two sentences. They then had to update the Wikipedia pages.
Professor Southall was presented with the award for UK Educational Institution of the Year 2014 by Wikipedia’s co-founder, Jimmy Wales, in recognition of work which organisers said had “gone above and beyond the call of duty to help bring open knowledge to all”.
Professor Southall said: “I’m very pleased Portsmouth students at the beginning of their academic lives have been recognised for unearthing the rich history of numerous villages in England.”
It is the third year running Professor Southall has set the task to those studying for a BA in geography. So far, over 200 articles have been greatly added to by the students’ research.
Class of 1964 visit the Department of Geography
Five of the very first Geography Degree students and Dr John Chapman, one of the staff who taught them, visited the Department on Friday 12 September.
This marks 50 years since the first cohort of students founded the Department of Geography at Portsmouth. At the time, the Department was housed in a wartime Nissen hut on the High Street in Old Portsmouth.
Dr Dominic Fontana showed the group around the Department's current home in Buckingham Building and around the newly refurbished Portland Building. The group were most impressed by the facilities provided for our students and reminisced about the very basic accommodation they had back in 1964.
Dr Fontana observed, "The University has certainly grown and developed enormously over the half-century and many thousands of students have graduated in Geography."
Geography students debate racism in recreated FA Boardroom
As part of a series of learning activities on the geographies of race, a group of our second year geography students, led by Dr. Tara Woodyer, recreated the Football Association (FA) Boardroom to apply the conceptual ideas they had been working with to a 'real world' example.
This series of activities is part of the Geographies of Wellbeing unit, which covers a range of topics including gender, sexuality, disability, age and homelessness alongside whiteness, and race more generally. The students formed four groups - black footballers, non-black footballers, FA board members and geographers - who each presented their interpretation of recent events and stated whether they believed racism was a problem within football, and if so, where that problem lies and how it should be addressed. Following the presentation of well-evidenced arguments, there was a lively debate between the groups, informed by research into recent events through news reports and a critical framework based on Sara Ahmed's writing on diversity work within organisations.
Dr. Tara Woodyer's inspiration for developing the workshop came from her experiences as a FA qualified referee.
She commented: "It's great to see our students really engaging with a topic and thinking about such an important issue from a range of perspectives. It's a great opportunity for our students to see how conceptual ideas they grapple with as part of their degree can have real value in the workplace".
University of Portsmouth research contributes to Welsh Tithe Maps project
A vector GIS of ancient parish boundaries created as part of the Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System (GBHGIS) project has contributed to the Welsh Tithe Maps project. This is the first public airing of a new GIS created at Portsmouth with funding from the Frederick Soddy Trust:
The parish boundaries were used internally by the project and also in their public web site, launched on 7th November. If you select “Tithe Maps” and then a particular county you will see a rendering of the parish map created by the Portsmouth team:
More details about the Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System (GBHGIS) project can be found here:
A separate website, created by funding from the UK National Lottery and extended and re-launched with funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee, makes this cartographic resource available on-line to everyone. That site is called A Vision of Britain through Time and presents the history of Great Britain through places. It can be found at www.visionofbritain.org.uk.
Student swims for spinal charity
A student just finishing his MSc in Coastal and Marine Resource Management in the Department of Geography has raised more than £700 pounds in a charity swim from Gosport to Ryde, Isle of Wight.
Fraser Houston raised the money for the charity 'Aspire' - which provides support for spinal injuries, such as those Fraser suffered in a motorbike accident several years ago.
Fraser who also was an undergraduate in the Department of Geography said this was "an excellent event and fantastic challenge", despite the high winds and the resulting waves.
Lead Technician wins award
Linley Hastewell has successfully secured a £1,000 grant from the British Society of Geomorphology (BSG) to cover fieldwork costs relating to his PhD research. The project entitled "Coastal erosion; shore platform processes and evolution at Bembridge Isle of Wight" focuses on the role of storm events in the evolution of shore platforms. Of particular interest are the detached boulders that are removed from the platform edges and transported landward by storm waves.
Radio Frequency ID tags (RFID's) have been embedded in 100 limestone boulders, their precise location has been recorded using dGPS. During periodic field surveys tagged boulders are relocated, this provides an insight to the transport pathways of individual clasts as a result of storm wave activity. This novel field technique is being supported by the use of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to obtain aerial images of the field site giving a wider spatial perspective on the influence of storm events on the changing geomorphology of rocky coasts.