Brighton scientists unlocking the secrets of Stonehenge

University of Brighton academics are helping solve the mystery of where the ancient stones at Stonehenge originate.

Different theories have been debated by archaeologists and geologists for more than 100 years and now English Heritage, which manages the prehistoric site in Wiltshire, is hoping chemical analysis and comparisons by the Brighton scientists will unlock the puzzle.

The origins of the smaller ‘bluestones’ at the centre of the monument have been traced to Pembrokeshire in west Wales. This latest research focusses on the large sarsen stones that make up the main stone circle and inner sarsen horseshoe.

In 2018, the Brighton team analysed the chemistry of the sarsen uprights at the monument. This latest research involved chemical analysis of the sarsen lintel stones that sit across the top of these uprights. The non-invasive procedure used a portable spectrometer that can identify chemical concentrations of a range of elements.

Professor David Nash, the University of Brighton’s Professor of Physical Geography, said: “We have now analysed the chemistry of all the sarsen stones and will be comparing the data against the chemistry of areas of sarsens from across southern England. Read More

Catching up with Dr Annie Ockelford

In the ‘Catching up with…’ series of podcasts, we sit down with staff from a wide range of roles to find out more about what they do, what their department does, and what interests them.

In the latest episode we catch up with Dr Annie Ockelford, senior lecturer in physical geography, who recently shared her research with MPs and governmental organisations in Westminster.
To find out more about Annie’s research, click here​ to view her University profile page​.

You can also listen to this podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, where you can like and subscribe – or search University of Brighton in your preferred podcast app.

Presenting at the Association of American Geographers annual conference

Dr Mary Gearey, Senior Research Fellow from the School of Environment and Technology reflects on her latest conference presentation and participation at AAG Washington 2019

There seemed to be a problem on the streets of Washington DC when I arrived last week at the beginning of April. Dotted along the streets, scores of lonely, abandoned scooters, harshly left propped against streetlights, blossoming cherry trees, shop doorways.

Who would care for these miscreant mobile technologies? Luckily with 9000 physical and human geographers in town for the annual Association of American Geographers (AAG) meeting help was on hand with both theoretical and applied solutions. Read More

Exploring Morocco with our 2nd year geographers

Every year, 2nd year undergraduates on our BA Geography course spend 8 days exploring Morocco as part of their dedicated field work module. This year they were joined by gender and sexuality specialist Dr Nick McGlynn, sustainable energy expert Dr Kirsten Jenkins, and senior geoarchaeology lecturer Dr Chris Carey.

The field trip was split across two locations. For 6 days the students worked and studied in the tourist hotspot and cultural heartland of Marrakech. Through transect walks across the French-planned New Town and the older Medina (the walled centre), students observed the lingering impacts of colonialism in the built environment and culture of the city.

They also investigated ways in which national and transnational policymaking – particularly the ‘Plan Maroc Vert‘ agenda – influence the very rapid development of Morocco, with consequent tension around use of land and water evident in peri-urban Marrakech.

Water usage in particular was studied further as students traveled into the Atlas Mountains for two days, in the village of Imlil. Here the focus was on changing rural livelihoods, traditional forms of agriculture and immigration, and the impacts brought by the growth in tourism. Despite rainy and stormy weather, students managed to spend a lot of time observing these issues first-hand. Local guides pointed out mechanisms and strategies for managing flooding, soil erosion and landslides, and explained the ‘targa’ irrigation system and the social practices used to manage it.

Help was also at hand (or more accurately at hoof) in the form of local mules, which carried staff and students to the lower slopes near Mount Toubkal. Here we could see the still-existing damage caused by a devastating flood and rockslide in 1995, and the differences between tourist-oriented villages like Imlil and more isolated settlements higher in the mountains.

Returning to Marrakech for the final days of the field trip, our budding geographers concluded by developing their own group projects. Data for these was gathered over two days, and subsequent findings were presented to staff and fellow students. This year our groups’ research topics were:

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The Morocco field trip serves as a critical introduction to fieldwork and the research process for students. But we also find that it really brings our students together as a group, and helps them work together and support one another in their vital final year. We can’t wait to see how they progress as we move into 2020!

Green Growth Platform hits new heights

More than 300 jobs have been created and 70 new products launched with support from a University of Brighton green business organisation.


The figures were released as the University’s Green Growth Platform received a progress report from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Platform’s original funder.

HEFCE said the Platform had “met or exceeded” all of its objectives, set out when it was launched in 2014.

Zoë Osmond, Director of Green Growth Platform, said: “We are delighted to have successfully delivered on all of the targets agreed with our original funder over the first five years of the Green Growth Platform.

“Since launch in 2014 we have seen over 1,000 green-focused companies join our network, with more than a quarter of these taking up our intensive innovation, business support or skills services.”

Read More

Celebrating International Women’s Day

At the University of Brighton, we are proud to have an extraordinarily talented staff and student community – and we are committed to equality of opportunity.

To mark International Women’s Day this year – we invited some of our students and staff to tell us about the women who inspire them. Look out for Hattie Corke, Geography BSc(Hons)

My experience as a student

So its my final semester being a student here in Brighton and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit sad but incredibly excited to graduate.

Student life is exciting. I came to Brighton to study Geography in September 2016 and since then have had the excitement of living in three different houses with three different groups of people. My life here at Brighton has been brilliant, my course has taught me so much about the world, and I have loved the chances to meet so many different people.

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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

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.

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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.

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