Study shows impact of microplastic on mussels

Microplastics were present in all of 188 mussel samples in the River Ouse, a new study by Megan Fitzpatrick, a final year Geography BA(Hons)  student here at the University of Brighton.

Megan, who is in her final year, undertook the field research for her dissertation project.

She described the results of her work as “very shocking” and warned about the dangers facing humans who eat Sussex shellfish.

Megan carried out her investigation at Piddinghoe in the Lewes district, a site known for its poor water quality.

The student examined the mussels along with 20 litres of brackish water, finding that microplastics were regularly ingested into the digestive tract and cells of the mussels.

Each mussel was found to have absorbed 51.6 particles of plastic per day, while there were 29.45 particles per litre of water.

Megan said: “The high concentrations of microplastics observed within the Sussex mussels was very shocking.

“Studies have suggested that these particles are causing harm to the mussels, however we are unaware of the full impacts as well as the potentially severe implications for shellfish eaters including humans. Read More

An award winning second year

Congratulations to Geology BSc(Hons) student, Esme Whitehouse, on winning a national student award with the Institute of Quarrying.

Esme is in her second year here and won the Institute of Quarrying’s award for the best performing second year student. We asked Esme to tell us more about the award and about life as a Geology student here at Brighton.

“I was nominated by my lecturers without my knowing and was notified when I had won. It was based on second year performance as a whole, and I was really appreciative of my lecturers for nominating me and happy for the recognition of my hard work. I receive a certificate and a two-year subscription to Quarry Management Magazine.

I chose the course because I have enjoyed Geology since studying it as a GCSE and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do as a career.

The course here is well-rounded, practical and exciting. The field trips are a great practical geological experience and a good opportunity to get to know your course mates. It’s also flexible but broad in your first year, the second year has less options and the third year is very flexible which is a good time to focus on your interests.

I would recommend the course and the University of Brighton. The amount of practical work involved in each module is a good way to learn. And the teaching is good, the lecturers are passionate about their respective areas. I plan to use it as a basis for a masters and for the rest of my career.”

National award for our school

A commitment to promote the careers of women has won the University of Brighton’s School of Environment and Technology (SET) a national award.

SET has received a Bronze Award from the Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena SWAN Charter which was established in 2005 to encourage efforts to advance women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.

A Silver Award was achieved by the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), run jointly by the universities of Brighton and Sussex. The awards are valid for four years during which both schools will implement a robust action plan to progress gender equality in their schools. The schools join the University of Brighton’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Science in holding a school level Athena SWAN award.

Professor Tara Dean, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, is Chair of the Athena SWAN Steering Group and is University of Brighton’s Gender Equality Champion.  She said: “We are very proud that both SET and BSMS have been formally recognised for their commitment to promoting gender equality by attaining the prestigious Athena SWAN Bronze and Silver awards respectively.

“The awards are a tribute to the hard work of the many staff in putting strategies in place to support gender equality, and the genuine institutional commitment to this endeavour.” Read More

Environmental Sciences opens up a world of opportunity

Environmental Sciences BSc(Hons) graduate Karen Bowles tells us why choosing the University of Brighton was one of the best decisions she has made, and where her career has taken her since she graduated.

Studying Environmental Sciences at the University of Brighton has been the best decision I’ve made.  As someone who is curious and wasn’t entirely sure of what field to choose, I loved that I could tailor my degree to fit my interests by keeping my module choices broad enough to explore different areas but still focused enough so that I was not completely lost in chasing a topic purely because it sounded interesting. This combined with passionate lecturers who are always keen to help, not only with coursework but also discussing career aspirations, made me feel less anxious about the future and motivated to build my career.

There were many opportunities to develop the technical and transferable skills I needed for the job market; by the time I graduated I had done fieldwork in four different countries, could work within a multidisciplinary team, was comfortable conducting my own research and working in laboratories, and even had the chance to work with Dr Raymond Ward on his research project (I enjoyed this so much that I did my dissertation on a similar topic). Apart from these, I developed a variety of soft skills, especially through a community development module I took on my second year, where I worked as a social marketing assistant at the University’s C-Change Campaign to improve the halls of residence recycling scheme.  Read More

Ecosystems are being degraded at an alarming rate

Professor Andrew Church, Professor of Geography and Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), was part of the global team of 50 environmental experts who launched four regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services that cover the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Africa, as well as Europe and Central Asia

Over the last week the four assessments were presented by the expert teams to representatives of 127 governments and were approved on 23 March at the plenary session of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), in Medellin, Colombia.

Over the last three years Read More

“Natural Flood Management – Understanding the complex processes involved”

Testing piping and erosion processes in managed realignment sites through a newly designed apparatus – Dr Heidi Burgess and  Florence Van Vaerenbergh

Managed realignment is a relatively new scheme of coastal defence, aiming to use natural environments to protect our coastlines and reduce the maintenance cost of hard defences. Research so far has focused on vegetation development and sediment transport processes to assess the success of given schemes at reproducing an intertidal habitat. There is however very little information on the impact of exposing a previously protected ground to tidal cycles on the erosion processes and the formation of drainage channels through piping.

For my final year project, I am using an entirely new apparatus which is based on previous Read More

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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Celebrating International Women’s Day 2018

To mark International Women’s Day in 2018 we are celebrating the achievements of just some of the academics working here at Brighton.

Our Women of Impact web feature demonstrates how our academic staff are achieving great things, working on the complex challenges facing society, educating and inspiring the next generation and making an impact in communities. The varied and diverse career journeys illustrate the huge range of talent that we welcome at the University of Brighton.

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Research filmed for Channel 4’s ‘Britain at Low Tide’

University of Brighton scientists have been helping Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN) research the submerged landscape around the Birling Gap in East Sussex.

The research was been filmed for Channel 4’s ‘Britain at Low Tide’, the community-based coastal archaeology series, which was broadcast on Saturday (17 Feb): now available on C4’s Catch Up.

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