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

Volunteers Required: Experiencing Nature in the Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere Reserve (updated version)

The University of Brighton is currently looking for volunteers for a pilot case study of people who love nature and are currently living in the Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere Reserve (BLDBR).

This study will investigate love for nature as expressed by different types of people living in Brighton and Hove, Lewes, Newhaven, Shoreham, Southwick and Telscombe.
The study investigates why urban citizens get involved in nature based activities (e.g. hiking, wild swimming, kayaking, fishing, cycling, gardening etc.) and why they decide to live and work in these towns.

We are also interested in speaking with a range of actors involved in the management of the BLDBR. Please see details on the flyer for more information.

If you want to know more about the Biopshere Reserve: see links below.

https://www.thelivingcoast.org.uk

https://biophilicurbanism572295449.wordpress.com

Adora Udechukwu

MPhil./Ph.D. Candidate

University of Brighton

School of Environment and Technology

Cockcroft Building Rm 607

 

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.

Read More

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.” Read More

Brighton sparks Ruby’s volcanic interest

Geography graduate Ruby Coates has had an exciting time since leaving the University of Brighton, working her way around the world including internships in Brazil and Patagonia. She kindly shared some of her experiences in the midst of her travels. Her undergraduate degree experience ignited a passion for volcanology and she begins her masters degree in the subject at Bristol University this autumn.

“I initially enrolled on the Geography BA course at the University of Brighton but quickly realised it was not for me, and I switched to the BSc and was happy to be able to opt to learn more about our physical environment and landscape.

“I have always been interested in natural hazards and soon realised on the second-year field trip to Sicily that my interest lay with volcanoes. It was fascinating to spend a day on Mount Etna with the volcanologist Dr Boris Behncke who taught us about the volcano and the local communities. It was amazing to learn how societies could live so peacefully in close proximity to such powerful natural landforms. This trip led me to base my dissertation around Mount Etna and the communities living in the area.

“In my third year, I was fortunate enough to return to Sicily to carry out my project research and work alongside Boris at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) and out in the field. It was amazing to see the work carried out to monitor the volcano and educate the communities. I found my dissertation to be a really interesting and important study that identified a widespread unpreparedness amongst the population in the event of an emergency. I found this very hard to believe and saw that further research is essential in this field. This is why I have chosen to study volcanology and I hope to go on to work with governmental organisations in managing natural hazards and be involved in risk communication amongst vulnerable communities.

“I was recommended the course by Dr Jake Ciborowski and received references from Jon Caplin and Chris Carey, all lecturers at the University of Brighton. I am thrilled to be accepted onto the course at Bristol University, the city where I was brought up.”

Health of UK Physical Geography

The first-ever report to compile evidence on the health and influence of UK physical geography has shown that the discipline is in great academic shape and a leading force worldwide. The International Benchmarking Review of UK Physical Geography was produced by the Royal Geographical Society and co-authored by Professor Phil Ashworth, University of Brighton.

The report highlights the extraordinary richness and diversity of physical geography in the UK that provides insights into processes and forms in the natural environment including climate and atmosphere, geomorphology and landscape, biogeography and ecosystems, hydrology and water science, oceans and soils.

Physical geography is witnessing a resurgence in popularity in schools and is growing subject choice at university where undergraduates perform well in their degrees, express high level of course satisfaction and have excellent employment outcomes compared to many disciplines.

UK physical geography research is international in outlook, world-leading in many subareas and influences the discipline worldwide. It punches well above its weight in terms of success rates with funding agencies, leads eminent international collaborative research programmes and addresses global societal-environment challenges.

Professor Phil Ashworth, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor Research & Enterprise at the University of Brighton, said: “This is a timely strategic review of UK physical geography whose findings have been validated by a panel of distinguished international experts. It shows that physical geography percolates into many natural and social science challenges in the changing world. Fundamental and exciting discovery science is produced by globally-renowned and influential geographers. UK physical geography is in excellent health and has a bright future for the new generation of numerate physical scientists”.

An independent, international panel of reviewers of the report, led by Professor Olav Slaymaker of the University of British Columbia in Canada said: “Physical geography within the UK is a major international player in terms of any metric considered, whether numbers of undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded; research foci; intellectual contributions as judged by papers and journal editorial positions. The UK is performing better than most in terms of maintaining the visibility of physical geography as a distinct field. The strength of the field in the UK acts as an important role model for the future of physical geography globally.”

Brighton scientists make breakthrough in India

Scientists from the University of Brighton have made a breakthrough in helping combat typhoid among slum dwellers in the Indian city of Kolkata.

Dr James Ebdon (left) and Professor Huw Taylor

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr James Ebdon, Reader in the university’s School of Environment and Technology, shared Brighton’s microbial source tracking methods with Indian and US scientists and successfully used the method for the first time to identify pollution of human origin in what is India’s second largest city.

Dr Ebdon said: “This breakthrough is an important first step in a three-year project to map environmental transmission routes of typhoid in urban India by combining novel microbiological protocols with social science approaches.”

Typhoid is a bacterial infection that can spread throughout the body, affecting many organs, and without prompt treatment, can be fatal. It remains one of the most serious health burdens in India, particularly for children, and is compounded by poverty, inadequate water supply and poor sanitation.

It is hoped that the breakthrough research by the Brighton scientists will demonstrate how typhoid spreads through poor urban communities so that more effective barriers to the disease can be put in place. The work in India is the latest example of the Brighton team’s efforts to support disease prevention in developing countries. Previously the team played a key role in responding to the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti and its advice was later sought by the WHO in response to the West African Ebola outbreak.

Dr Ebdon led the Kolkata work, which is part of the ‘Sanipath Typhoid’ project, run by the Global Centre for Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at Emory University in Atlanta. He works alongside the University of Brighton’s Dr Diogo Trajano, Research Fellow in the School of Environment and Technology, who has made similar progress in Africa, with funding from the Medical Research Council.

Professor Huw Taylor, the University of Brighton’s Professor of Microbial Ecology, accompanied Dr Ebdon in India. He said: “This is a very exciting step forward for water and sanitation research at the university. In recent years we have become widely-recognised for the global impact of our work but James’ success in India, along with Diogo’s advances in rural Kenya, are now using Brighton’s practical knowledge for the benefit of those in greatest need.”

For more information on sanitation research click here.