Gaining hands on research experience as an undergraduate

Undergraduate Geography BSc(Hons) student Chloe Carter tells us about the research experience she gained on a trip to the United States.

I went through clearing and chose Geography BSc(Hons) because I’ve always been interested in the physical landscape around me. Brighton is perfectly situated to learn about different landscapes being close to the sea and the Downs.

The trips to Greece and Sicily are great but also the amount of opportunities you experience, like being involved in up and coming research.

I was talking to one of the lecturers, Dr Annie Ockelford, about her research as it interests me. She spoke of her research on large wood in the USA and how she likes to take students so they get to experience the world of research. She then invited me along with her to help out with the research. We went to the Nooksack River, WA, USA. Read More

A Wild Escape in Hong Kong

I was lucky enough to visit the Mai Po nature reserve in Hong Kong’s New Territories – a wildlife haven surrounded by over 20 million local residents.

Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour is spectacular night and day

When most people think of Hong Kong the images that are conjured up are of towering skyscrapers, junks and ferry boats crossing Victoria harbour and steaming bowls of noodles slurped down with bubble tea in busy street cafes. Inherent to this vision is the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong life – the teeming night markets of Mong Kok in Kowloon, the frenetic rabbit warren of Wan Chai’s streets and the thrumming outdoor escalators of the mid-levels of Hong Kong island. As a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China for the past twenty one years, Hong Kong’s nearly 9 million local population regularly swells with growing numbers of both domestic Chinese and foreign tourists, visiting the numerous tourist hotspots, temples and shopping centres. As a result Hong Kong is ranked as the world’s fourth most densely populated region on earth. Read More

You can now check air quality – online

The University of Brighton has launched online air quality data so residents can see which times and days were more polluted than others.

The service could help those with respiratory diseases such as asthma avoid outdoor exposure when levels of pollutants are at their highest.

The data is in the form of graphs showing levels of potentially harmful gases over the last 24 hours, seven and 30 days. The graphs can be seen at: https://bit.ly/2QwNHxp

The readings come from the University’s £250,000 Air Environment Research (AER) monitoring station at Falmer, the first of its kind in the UK.

Dr Kevin Wyche, Senior Lecturer in Atmospheric Science and Air Quality Management within the University’s School of Environment and Technology, and co-founder and principal investigator of the AER, said knowing what pollutants are in the air is increasingly vital.

He said: “More than 50,000 people die prematurely each year in the UK from air pollution-related diseases, costing the NHS around 16 per cent of its total budget. Knowing when pollution is at its highest during the day and what days are worse than others could help some people avoid exposure.”

Launched following last week’s World Health Organisation’s conference in Brussels on air quality, it provides five graphs:

* Nitrogen Dioxide NO2 – the main source is burning fossil fuels as in cars and this can irritate lungs and make diseases such as asthma worse. This, in turn, can lead to great risk of infections

* Ozone O3 – concentrations are often highest on hot, still and sunny days, and are a major component of modern ‘smog’

* Sulphur Dioxide SO2 – can be damaging to the environment and acts as a respiratory irritant, causing coughing and shortness of breath

* Formaldehyde HCHO – can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat.

* Nitrous Acid HONO – can contribute to the formation of other pollutants

Dr Wyche, who is chairing a forthcoming Public Policy Exchange at an EC and ClientEarth event, said the WHO has reported that outdoor air pollution kills more people worldwide than road traffic accidents, smoking and diabetes combined.

Dr Kirsty Smallbone, Head of the School of Environment and Technology and is co-founder and co-investigator of Air Environment Research, said: “Brighton is exceeding air quality limits set by the government and it is crucial that we enhance our understanding of the relationships that exist between pollutants and health. It is also vital and incumbent upon us to share our knowledge and data with the public.”

The monitoring station is co-funded by the EU’s Interreg IVB NWE programme and the University of Brighton as part of the Joint Air Quality Initiative (JOAQUIN). Graphs and data archives are produced by Jason Bailey, Learning Technologies Adviser at the University.

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

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.

Read More

‘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).

Read More