Practising environmental geophysics techniques out in the field

As part of a module on exploration geology, third year geology students went to the Sheepcote valley landfill site to practice field techniques in environmental geophysics. The exercise involved using ground electrical conductivity, changes in the Earth’s magnetic field and natural radiation to map out the boundaries of the buried site.

Our first year field trip to Greece

Our first year Geography and Environmental Sciences students set off on a fieldtrip to Greece in their first semester at Brighton.

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The three day course introduces students to a range of field-based techniques and transferable skills. Working in groups it’s a great opportunity to get to know each other, and our lecturers, as well as building field skills, presentation techniques, primary geographical and environmental data reporting, analytical techniques through geographical or environmental investigations.

The fieldtrip includes day trips for students on our different courses to study specific topics.

Students on our different courses go on different day trips to Athens, Perachora and Mylokopi and Lake Stymphalia to study topics specifically related to their course.

Undergraduate Ellie’s research opportunity

Undergraduate Geography BSc (Hons) student Ellie Crabbe (currently on placement at GE Aviation) had the fantastic opportunity of joining lecturer Dr Annie Ockelford on a research trip to the Cascades National Park in America over the summer.

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I’ve always had an interest in fluvial geomorphology and sustainable riverine management and this was further enhanced whilst studying a ‘Water in the Landscape’ module during my second year. I thoroughly enjoyed the content and teaching style of this module. My lecturer noticed my enthusiasm for the topic, as reflected in my assessment marks, and invited me to join her research trip, alongside other academics from both UK and US universities.

I was pleasantly surprised with how much involvement I had during the research trip. I could put my previous experience and knowledge I learnt in my other modules, into play, for example I was tasked with setting up and collecting data using a terrestrial laser scanner, in somewhat difficult conditions (i.e. knee deep in fast flowing water/ on top of precarious river banks).

I had investigated the use of high resolution data collection methods during other modules but it was fantastic to be able to put this into practice in the real world whilst collecting valuable data. My main role was to use the terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) to scan the above water geomorphology (i.e. the in channel bars, banks, side channels and exposed woody debris dams). Despite this method being able to collect vast number of data points in minutes, the kit set up took much longer as finding the best vantage points, geo referencing them and moving the target points was quite time consuming!

Setting up the kit gave me the opportunity to actually understand how the system worked and why each aspect of the kit was required (i.e. why we geo-reference data and use target points). Along side other members of the team, I helped set up and collect data using other high resolution data collection techniques (i.e. acoustic Doppler profiling and a multi-beam echo sounder). After spending a week conducting TLS scans, I was competent and confident enough to teach students from the US university how to carry out the scans and how to log the data.

The trip gave me the opportunity to network with industry professionals and academics. I was able to work closely with them and gain valuable knowledge on the fluvial and geomorphological processes we were observing within the field. The main benefit of going on the trip was definitely putting into practice what I had learnt about data collecting and field techniques. I was able to experience first hand what it actually means to conduct fieldwork and the logistical and environmental issues one is presented with in the field. I would never have been able to use/access this equipment, collect such a vast amount of data nor network with industry professionals had I attempted this fieldwork myself, so I am hugely thankful for that.

I will be able to use my in depth understanding of geographical data collection when I return to uni for my third year. I now have a greater appreciation of how to collect and analyse vast quantities of data, that I previously would have found mind boggling.
Upon returning from the trip I am also aiding in the post processing and analysis of the data we collected.

I would definitely recommend studying geography at Brighton. In my school, lecturers are keen to recommend and provide opportunities for those who are motivated, to participate in extracurricular activities that will help improve their geographical knowledge (i.e. helping students network with other academics, taking students on their research trips etc).

Jaide is going places with TFL

Graduate schemes are a fantastic way to enter the industry of your choice. Recent graduate Jaide Hartridge got in touch to let us know what she’s been up to since qualifying last year with a first-class degree in Environmental Sciences.

“I am now on the Health, Safety and Environment Graduate scheme for Transport for London. This entails working in various placements across the company for two years before rolling off into a full-time position. So far, I have been with teams working in upgrading/constructing new underground stations and surface transport (everything other than the underground!).

“During my time studying Environmental Sciences at Brighton, I completed a placement year employed by a company called S2 Partnership but working for the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson as the Environmental, Health and Safety and Support Coordinator. Being contracted into working for a company such as J&J was fantastic as it gave me experience working for a corporate company. With the support of both S2 and J&J, I had a hugely valuable year, giving me a taste of working life and the opportunity to make some great contacts as well as adding great value to my CV. I also finished the year with job offers from both companies which was a really great position to be in going into my final year!

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Our second years head to Spain

Our second year Geology, and Physical Geography and Geology students head to Spain in their second year to put the knowledge and skills they have learned in the classroom into practice in the field.

Some of the activities students are involved in include investigating the role of surface processes and bedrock geology in weathering morphology in volcanic rocks and studying alluvial fan morphology and sedimentology.

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Last of the summer whine…..

Researchers from the University of Brighton’s School of Environment and Technology have been busy trampling through marshes and peat bogs since the beginning of December as part of the initial fieldwork phase of the WetlandLIFE project. WetlandLIFE is a three year interdisciplinary project funded by the AHRC, ESRC and NERC through the ‘Valuing Nature’ programme ( ). The WetlandLIFE team are studying the cultural, historical and economic values of wetland spaces across England, with case study sites in Bedfordshire, the Somerset Levels and the Humber Estuary, together with an ecological focus on mosquitoes to refine our understanding of their importance within these habitats.

Tower Hide: Shapwick Heath, Somerset Levels

As SET Research Fellow on the project, Dr Mary Gearey, explains: “Mosquitoes are hugely important for wetland ecosystems, as a food source for fish, bats and birds and also as pollinators for a wide range of plant life. As climate change warms our atmosphere, and increases its ability to hold moisture, there is every likelihood that mosquito populations will continue to thrive within English wetlands. Our project seeks to understand how these potentially expanding mosquito populations can be balanced against encouraging people to use and enjoy wetland spaces for their health and wellbeing.”

Joining forces with Greenwich University to undertake empirical social science fieldwork, the Brighton team are currently immersing themselves within three key wetland ecosystems within England; Shapwick Heath and Westhay Moor on the Somerset Levels; the Millennial and Priory Country Parks in Bedfordshire and Alkborough Flats in Lincolnshire. At this initial stage the Brighton team are familiarising themselves with these uniquely different landscapes – the rural peatlands which sit under Glastonbury Tor’s gaze and the urban infill gravel pits of Bedfordshire with the riverine floodplains where the Humber and Trent rivers meet the next venue in January 2018.

“It’s been so wonderful to meet the team of Rangers in Somerset and Bedfordshire who take care of these sites” explains Mary “and to meet the volunteers, walkers, birders and bat club members who cherish these unique spaces. Even in wet, cold, windy and sleeting conditions I’ve met people enjoying being in nature – whatever the weather throws at them. The mosquitos are in hibernation at this time of year, giving us a chance to explore these sites before they wake up and greet us in the Spring. In the meantime I’ve been capturing the beauty of these spaces via my camera phone – all contributing to our online photographic essay. See – we welcome all contributions, just send in your wetlands photos.”

How we’re tackling crucial issues facing the planet

With six million UK properties at risk of flooding top scientists are gathering for a four-day showcase of the latest research into all areas of environmental science.

‘UnEarthed’, led by theNatural Environmental Research Council (NERC), will highlight latest research into other crucial environmental issues facing mankind including the air we breathe, natural disasters, and food and energy generation.

Dr Annie Ockelford, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography here at Brighton, and chair of outreach for the British Society for Geomorphology, will be joining scientists from the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester.

The exhibition has been organised by the Natural Environment Research Council which funds research tackling environmental issues. There will be talks, debates and 20 hands-on exhibits including ‘Glaciers, water and sand…. you are in command’, run by Dr Ockelford and a team of eight other scientists. They will be joined by some of our undergraduate students, too.

Dr Ockelford said: “Our stand is all about showing the visitors how water moves around our planet as part of the water cycle, how it shapes our landscapes now and how that cycle of water might change in the future.

“The stand is made up of a team of geomorphologists, scientists who study how our landscapes are shaped through time. The activities will allow people to build their own landscapes and, using virtual reality, make it rain to see how where their landscapes might flood.

“Visitors will also be able to learn how glaciers move using 3D printed models of miniature landscapes where visitors can add glacial ‘goo’ onto the model to explore how the ‘glaciers’ travel through the different landscape.

“This is a fantastic event to be involved in where we will be able to share our science with school children, the public and even parliamentarians.”

More than 5,000 visitors are expected at the event which is free to the public and schools. It is being held at Dynamic Earth, the visitor attraction in Edinburgh, from this Friday (17 Nov) to 20 November. For more information, go to

You can follow the team live in action over Facebook and twitter #BSG_Geomorph or the event in general #UnEarthed2017

We’re in the top ten

The University of Brighton has been placed seventh in the country for its green credentials.

Brighton emerged in the top ten out of the UK’s 150 higher education institutions in the 2017 People & Planet’s University League, the independent league table of universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance.

Installing a record number of solar panels, reducing waste, introducing sustainable food initiatives, and embedding sustainability in the curriculum all contributed to the University’s high ranking.

Measures taken recently at the University include three solar PV projects, involving two ground-breaking roof lease schemes with Brighton Energy Cooperative, which resulted in a total of over 1,600 solar panels on the University’s roofs, placing Brighton among the top universities nationwide for solar generation.

And a recycling competition in halls of residents resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in waste.

The University was awarded just under 70 per cent which earned Brighton a First Class honour from People & Planet, the UK’s largest student campaigning network. It received 100 per cent for Environment Policy, Sustainability Staff, and Energy Sources, and 90 per cent for Carbon Management.

Professor Debra Humphris, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “Being placed in the top ten is tremendous news and one which reflects the hard work and commitment by the University’s staff and students to do as much as we can to combat climate change, protect our planet, and be a socially responsible organisation.” Continue reading

My placement year at Monier

Jade Malone, Geology BSc(Hons)

“On my placement year at Monier I gained confidence working in an industrial setting, and developed my interpersonal skills with colleagues at all levels. It has enabled me to effectively communicate results and findings to ensure that project teams work effectively as a single unit.

I personally feel that going on a sandwich-year has given me quite a nice ‘break’ from studying and I now believe I will return to complete the final year of my course with a higher level of maturity and motivation – not to mention a vast improvement in my time management skills!”

My placement at GE Aviation

Geraldine Rumbold
BSc (Hons) Physical Geography and Geology

“By undertaking a placement year as an Environment Health and Safety Intern, it has been the best decision that I could have made for my career. It has expanded and developed my skills including team work, decision making, project management and emotional intelligence, which I could not have gained at university. In addition, I have received an extra qualification (Nebosh National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety), which will improve my career opportunities in any career I pursue in the future. I would highly recommend anyone to pursue an internship to gain a year’s experience. In the long term, it will make you a strong and desirable candidate when applying for Graduate Schemes or Postgraduate Opportunities.”