Dr Robert Inkpen
Buckingham Building, Lion Terrace, Portsmouth, Hants, PO1 3HE
Rob graduated from the University of Oxford in 1985 and completed his PhD at University College London in 1989. After short stints working for the Building Research Establishment and at the University of Exeter, Rob joined the department in 1991 becoming a Principal Lecturer in 2003.
Rob was the Membership Secretary of the British Society for Geomorphology (BSG) 2005-2008 and is now a committee member of the RGS/IBG History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group.
Rob’s research interests and publications span both physical and human geography. His research interests can be broadly divided as below, with specific projects and publications highlighted in each division.
Analysis of the patterns of decay forms and the spatial and temporal variation in the patterns of decay on surface forms a major part of Rob’s research. He has undertaken work for the Foundation of the Built Environment (FBE) and the Building Research establishment (BRE) developing a system to map decay forms through time using historical data sources as well as a system for establishing baselines of current decay features for buildings (Inkpen et al., in press). This work continues at a number of sites and has been expanded to include the degradation of brick work at the Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth. Rob has also been involved in a large EU project (BioBrush) from which he developed a system for mapping the alteration in the stone surface from bio-calcifying bacteria at a microscopic scale.
Understanding the development of decay forms requires a detailed knowledge of the operation of processes causing their formation. Rob has undertaken experimental work into the mechanisms of salt weathering and into the organisation of the micro-topography of rock surfaces weathered by different processes (Inkpen et al., 2004, Inkpen and Stephenson, 2006, Inkpen, 2007). More recent work has seen Rob collaborate with Dr Eric (Biology) on experimental work on bio-calcifying bacteria and on prevention of algae growth on rock surfaces.
Degradation of stone and rock surfaces requires careful and often novel methods of monitoring. Rob has developed non-contact methods of monitoring surface loss and form development at different scales (Inkpen et al. 2000, Inkpen et al., 2001 and Inkpen et al., in press). Recent developments have included the use of historic photography, digital photogrammetry and close-range laser scanning of surfaces. Additionally, Rob has been interested in assessing change in surfaces over time and has used historic data sources to map change as well as gravestones to identify how (and if) erosion rates have changed as environmental conditions have altered over the last 150 years (Inkpen and Jackson, 2000 and Inkpen et al., 2004).
Philosophy and History of Geography
Social Networks and the Practice of Geography
A key feature of Rob’s more ‘human’ work is the concern with individuals and their ability to act and influence the networks of relations within which they live their lives. Along with Dr Peter Collier, Rob has explored how the development of geography in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was influenced by a complex web of social, historic and economic relations that were enacted or mediated by specific individuals (Collier and Inkpen, 2002, Collier and Inkpen 2003 and Inkpen et al., 2007). Recently, this work has been funded by a small grant from the British Academy. This analysis of influence of network relations is being extended to other learned societies in this period as well as to the understanding of specific projects in this time period such as developing stone durability standards (Inkpen et al., 2004) and the repair work undertaken at the House of Parliament.
Explanation and Causality in Physical Geography
Rob’s interest in things philosophical (depending on what you mean by things!) resulted in a key textbook Science, Philosophy and Physical Geography (2005). This has led to some interesting collaborations (e.g. Inkpen and Wilson, in press) as well as a growing concern with the nature of explanation and evidence within physical geography (Inkpen and Collier, 2007, Inkpen, 2007, Inkpen, in press).
At present Rob is slowly developing his research in Environmental Hazards and, in particular, the identification, assessment and analysis of vulnerability. Rob is developing methods of combining information about biophysical and geophysical vulnerability with social and economic vulnerability. Watch this space for information and illustrations as this project develops!
Environmental Systems and Change: Unit Leader
Practical and Fieldwork
Environmental Hazards: Unit Leader
Recent Environmental Change
Introduction to Climatology
Overseas Field classes: Malta
Theory and Methods -Stasis and Change: Unit Leader
Environmental Assessment and Monitoring
Rob would be keen to supervise doctoral students in any of the areas of research interest mentioned above. Topics that would of particular interest are those concerned with:
- Decay forms and rates of decay on buildings and building stones or other heritage materials
- Experimental work on decay processes and development of stone and rock surfaces
- Analysis of social networks on the development of geography
- Hazards and vulnerability analysis
I would suggest that prospective students contact me by e-mail.