First year geographers and environmental sciences students head to Greece

Dr Mary Gearey, Senior Research Fellow in SET, reflects on her first Greek field trip – 6th-10th November 2018 with our first year Geography and Environmental Sciences students.

As the lead University of Brighton researcher on the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded WetlandLIFE project (www.wetlandlife.org), I am normally found traversing soggy moors and bogs all over England to interview my research participants about their sense of place within these wonderful landscapes.

“How about a fieldtrip to sunny, dry Greece?” my colleague Dr Paul Gilchrist suggested, after one particularly windy and rainswept visit to North Lincolnshire’s Alkborough Flats. Sunshine? Heat? Lots of Greek salad, honey and yoghurt? How could I say no? So, following Dr Jon Caplin’s explicit instructions, I swapped my welly boots for stout walking shoes and helped shepherd almost forty eager geographers and environmental scientists onto our flight to Athens in early November.

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A field trip to the seaside

Final year students from across our Geography, Geology, Environmental Sciences, Civil Engineering, and Chemistry courses took a trip to the beach this week to collect grab samples of bathing water from seven sites between Brighton Palace Pier and Brighton Marina.

The trip was part of a water and health module and was to look at how water quality varies.

The samples were taken back to our Category 2 microbiology lab for analyses which involved the students filtering the samples for different groups of faecal indicator bacteria originating from different source such as wild birds, dogs and humans.

The concentration of these microorganisms gives us an indication of the likely level of risk to water users. The students will collect additional samples and to analyse over the next two weeks so they can see how water quality changes from week to week as well as from site to site.

The value of sharing your research

Dr James Cole’s research on Prehistoric cannibalism has scored one of the highest Altmetric scores of Social Science articles published in 2017 open access by the journal Scientific Reports part of the  Springer Nature publishing group.

Springer Nature report that his research paper was mentioned in 800+ tweets and almost 200 news articles and feature Dr Cole as the headline in their “Open Voices” campaign about Open Access publishing. Read More

Urgent action needed to save earth’s biodiversity

Biodiversity – vital for life on earth – is being eroded at an alarming rate and both politicians and the private sector must act now to halt the erosion.

That was the message from the University of Brighton’s Professor Andrew Church, specialist in human-nature relations and the environment, who spoke at a London conference alongside Environment Secretary Michael Gove and TV broadcaster and writer Ben Fogle. Read More

Brighton researchers aiming to save the whale – and humans

University of Brighton scientists have discovered a more environmentally-friendly way of preventing man-made toxins from leaching into the water system – using living organisms.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), now banned by most countries including the UK (1981), are still posing serious health risks and are suspected of causing the death of a new-born orca which made headlines around the world earlier this year when its mother Tahlequah carried the dead calf for 17 days.

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WetlandLIFE project update – researching a ‘sense of place’ within England’s wetlands – Dr Mary Gearey – Research Fellow

Our WetlandLIFE project ( www.wetlandlife.org), part of the Valuing Natures Programme (valuing-nature.net) is now in its second year. This means our fieldwork research is well underway. Spring has finally sprung on our wetland case study sites; and last week we visited Shapwick Heath wetland, part of the Somerset Levels close to Glastonbury.

The University of Brighton team are busy not just enjoying these spaces, but are also beginning the many fieldwork interviews that will help us really understand what these wetland spaces mean to so many different users. Read More

Observing nature; working with nature – an artist’s perspective

A Wetland LIFE Blog – Dr Mary Gearey

One of the many joys of working on the WetlandLIFE project has been the chance to meet, talk with and spend time with a wide variety of people who cherish these very special landscapes. In particular the ‘sense of place’ fieldwork that we are collectively undertaking explores the various ways in which these wetlands engender a very special relationship between site users and the wetlands themselves. Talking with these different users has helped the research team really appreciate the particular, and often unseen, characteristics of these spaces.

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‘Ig’ Nobel prize for Brighton researcher

Research which quantified the calorific value of the human body has won a global award for a University of Brighton researcher.

The Ig Nobel prize, which celebrates unusual and imaginative research and runs parallel to the Nobel Prizes, has been awarded to Dr James Cole, Principal Lecturer in Archaeology from the University’s School of Environment and Technology. He received his award at Harvard University in Massachusetts, USA, last night (13 September).

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