Re-naturing cities

Dr Mary Gearey, Research Fellow in our school, joined 40 other British and Brazilian researchers for a four day, Newton funded workshop in July, exploring methods, strategies and theories in support of ‘re-naturing cities’. The event was held in Goiania, Brazil, Mary tells us more about it here.

The Newton funded workshop brought together researchers from a wide range of disciplines including Architecture, Ecology, Public Health, Urban Planning, Human Geography, Soil Science and Land Management to share expertise around developing green infrastructure in highly dense urban spaces. My work on public perceptions in support of urban wetlands expansion contributed to a series of round-table seminars which explored a wide range of subjects from improving green roof structures to expand biodiversity, to extending community participation in developing public spaces through growing fruit, vegetables and flowers in street side rain gardens.

Complementing existing ‘grey’ infrastructure – the buildings, roads, transport networks which are the fundamentals of city spaces – with ‘green’ infrastructure – city parks, tree lined greenway cycle paths and wilder areas such as urban wetlands – offers urban dwellers the chance to improve their health and well-being in a range of ways. From cooling down the ‘heat island’ effect of cities, both now and with a view to future climate change impacts, as well as improving air and water quality, expanding nature into cities via urban parks, green ‘wedges’ of land set aside for plants and trees and softening buildings through living walls and mobile gardens housed in skips, offers city dwellers a respite from noise and traffic fumes and improves access to nature for everyone, not just wealthier residents.

This Newton funded workshop has demonstrated that the research I currently undertake within SET exploring the value of wetlands for local communities as part of a Natural England Research Council (NERC) project alongside Professors Neil Ravenscroft and Andrew Church has an international resonance and impact, and highlights the wonderfully diverse range of work undertaken by University of Brighton researchers.

This is my second time in Brazil, disseminating and undertaking research on behalf of SET and the University of Brighton. In November I worked with Physical Geographers at UNIVALI University in the South of the country, supported by a Santander Bank travel grant.

Both times in Brazil I’ve got close up and personal with the wildlife; last time it was a surprise encounter with a rainforest bush rat in a rangers’ toilet, this time with this very cute monkey (pictured). We found him in our hosts’ campus at the Federal University of Goias and thought he was adorable, rolling around on the floor and clapping his hands– until we discovered he was working a con act with another monkey who was going through people’s bags searching for food when we were distracted. What a cheeky monkey!

It’s time to take air pollution seriously

The air monitoring station (LtoR) Kevin Wyche Kirsty Smallbone Keith Taylor and Debra Humphris

Our Vice-Chancellor has called on the Government to take more notice of evidence pointing to an air pollution crisis facing the planet.
Professor Debra Humphris was commenting after scientists from our school presented new research showing how society was facing a “public health timebomb”.
They told how air pollution is linked to 50,000 premature deaths in the UK every year, 9,400 in London and 430,000 in the EU as a whole, through heart disease, asthma, and even dementia.
Lead researchers, Dr Kirsty Smallbone, Head of the School of Environment and Technology, and lecturer Dr Kevin Wyche, are studying ultra-fine particles which can pass through the lung alveoli and contaminate organs including the brain.
Their data comes from the university’s state-of-the-art £250,000 advanced air pollution monitoring station based at its campus in Falmer and funded by the EU’s Interreg IVB NWE programme and the University of Brighton as part of the Joint Air Quality Initiative (JOAQUIN, www.cleanerairbetterhealth). Continue reading

Support for female researchers in STEMM

As part of International Women in Engineering Day 2017, Dr Mary Geary, research fellow in our school, shares her experience of a career in STEMM research and the support she received from the University of Brighton on returning to STEMM research after a career break.

Find out more here.

A warm welcome at our open day

Sunshine, blue skies, our brilliant ambassadors and friendly staff welcomed visitors to our campus open day on Saturday 17 June.

Open days are a great way to find out about the local area and campus where you will be studying. You’ll also be able to hear more about your chosen subject and talk to our staff and current students.

If you are thinking about beginning your studies in 2018 and missed this one, find out more about upcoming events on our website.

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Moulsecoomb Campus Open Day

Open days are a great way to find out about the local area and the campus where you will be studying. You will also be able to hear more about your chosen subject and talk to our staff and current students.

If you are thinking of beginning your studies in 2018 come along to our campus open day on Saturday 17 June. Find out more about open days on our website.

Castles and Roses: University of Brighton research project

University of Brighton research project helps Canal and River Trust develop canal heritage in post-industrial Manchester 

As part of the European Waterways Heritages project, SECP researchers Abigail Wincott and Paul Gilchrist, with PI Professor Neil Ravenscroft, have unveiled three new canal heritage trails for three under-appreciated areas of Manchester.

For the two-year project, the team looked at everything from developers’ brochures to 19th century novels to understand how canal heritage heritage has been envisioned in post-industrial regeneration projects. The research has been used to identify untapped resources which can help local groups use heritage for leisure, tourism and community-building projects.

The team found that existing local development of these inland waterways as heritage assets has  emphasised a particular kind of Victorian industrial heritage, with an almost complete neglect of other forms, in particular the heritage of the canal boats and the people who have lived and worked on the canals, and used them for leisure, even in the industrial heyday. Why many towns and cities have 19th century industrial and mercantile heritage, canal boats are unique to canal network and their omission is a wasted opportunity.

The canal boat aesthetic challenges the dominant aesthetic of industrial heritage in two ways. It appears domestic and feminine, painted in pretty, clashing colours with floral scenes. Intimate domestic details are often on display on the outside of the boats, like plant pots, shoes and mugs of tea.

The vivid and clashing colours and the castles and roses style of decoration have also often been assumed to be foreign in origin, but they are part of a long British tradition of working people decorating the vehicles of their trades with impressive carving and art work.

Together with a range of local community groups and the Canal and River Trust, who manage the waterways, the Brighton team have produced multimedia heritage trails that put the boats back into canal heritage.

These local stakeholders hope the trails will tempt locals to walk the canals and reclaim their very special canalside heritage.

The trails are available on the Izi.travel website and mobile app, and will soon be released on a bespoke app, designed by colleagues in the Netherlands. The materials have been uploaded to a database and GIS maps, which can be handed over to local organisations to continue to produce their own heritage itineraries and allow them to capitalise on the unique heritage of Britain’s canal network.

The trails can be found on the project blog:

https://waterwaysheritage.wordpress.com/

Twitter updates: @wwheritage

 

Environmental Geophysics in Exploration Geology

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On the 30th November a group of students and staff went to the disused Sheepcote Valley landfill site to practise the use of field geophysics instruments as part of the third year Exploration Geology module. The exercise demonstrated how geophysical … Continue reading

An award winning dissertation

imogen-foxHuge congratulations to Imogen Fox, who has just graduated from our Geography BA(Hons) course for her award-winning dissertation!

Imogen’s dissertation on how she supported a friend with special needs won the Royal Geographical Society’s Social and Cultural Geography Research Groups Undergraduate Dissertation Award and £100 prize money. Titled ‘Meltdowns in the mud – a spatial, emotional and relationship approach to the experience of care in the micro-spatialities of Glastonbury Festival’ Imogen wrote an account of her experience in supporting her friend Rona when the pair attended the Glastonbury Festival this summer.

“I am in complete shock and disbelief about winning the prize,” said Imogen. “I feel extremely grateful for all the amazing support I received from both academic staff from my course at the university who have boosted my confidence in my own academic abilities and also my wonderful dyslexia tutor who kept me calm throughout the writing process.”

Imogen also praised the Sussex organisation which teamed her up with “my new close friend” Rona, Gig Buddies, which matches adults who have a learning disabilities to volunteers who have similar interests, to go to events together that they both love.

Imogen, now studying for her MSc in Social Work, said: “I question the word and activity of ‘care’ because that ‘care’ goes both ways and is often an act of friendship, thus defining mine and Rona’s relationship as a ‘muddy relationship’ which can be impacted upon differently in different spaces.”

Train to teach this September

If you have considered training to teach after graduating in a STEM subject this year, this post is for you…

Train to teach and inspire hundreds of young minds along the way. Start your teaching career on a Geography train to teach course this September.

Tax-free bursaries and prestigious scholarships of up to £30,000 are available while you train as a teacher.The department of Education (DfE) website has additional support available to help you get started…

  • Read these five simple steps to get into teaching
  • Register to attend the next DfE online event on 18 July; which provides specific advice for new STEM graduates like you.

Or you can register an interest in our programmes here.