Come and visit us this winter

It might be cold outside but don’t let that stop you visiting us this winter!

If you’re considering starting an undergraduate course here in 2018, why not sign up to one of our campus tours taking place during December and January and find out more about what it’s like study at Brighton?

The tours will give you the chance to explore the campus where your course of interest is based, view our facilities and talk to our staff and students.

Find out more and book onto a tour <link to: https://www.brighton.ac.uk/studying-here/visit-us/campus-tours/index.aspx>

How we’re tackling crucial issues facing the planet

With six million UK properties at risk of flooding top scientists are gathering for a four-day showcase of the latest research into all areas of environmental science.

‘UnEarthed’, led by theNatural Environmental Research Council (NERC), will highlight latest research into other crucial environmental issues facing mankind including the air we breathe, natural disasters, and food and energy generation.

Dr Annie Ockelford, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography here at Brighton, and chair of outreach for the British Society for Geomorphology, will be joining scientists from the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester.

The exhibition has been organised by the Natural Environment Research Council which funds research tackling environmental issues. There will be talks, debates and 20 hands-on exhibits including ‘Glaciers, water and sand…. you are in command’, run by Dr Ockelford and a team of eight other scientists. They will be joined by some of our undergraduate students, too.

Dr Ockelford said: “Our stand is all about showing the visitors how water moves around our planet as part of the water cycle, how it shapes our landscapes now and how that cycle of water might change in the future.

“The stand is made up of a team of geomorphologists, scientists who study how our landscapes are shaped through time. The activities will allow people to build their own landscapes and, using virtual reality, make it rain to see how where their landscapes might flood.

“Visitors will also be able to learn how glaciers move using 3D printed models of miniature landscapes where visitors can add glacial ‘goo’ onto the model to explore how the ‘glaciers’ travel through the different landscape.

“This is a fantastic event to be involved in where we will be able to share our science with school children, the public and even parliamentarians.”

More than 5,000 visitors are expected at the event which is free to the public and schools. It is being held at Dynamic Earth, the visitor attraction in Edinburgh, from this Friday (17 Nov) to 20 November. For more information, go to http://unearthed.nerc.ac.uk

You can follow the team live in action over Facebook and twitter #BSG_Geomorph or the event in general #UnEarthed2017

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.” Continue reading

My placement year at Monier

Jade Malone, Geology BSc(Hons)

“On my placement year at Monier I gained confidence working in an industrial setting, and developed my interpersonal skills with colleagues at all levels. It has enabled me to effectively communicate results and findings to ensure that project teams work effectively as a single unit.

I personally feel that going on a sandwich-year has given me quite a nice ‘break’ from studying and I now believe I will return to complete the final year of my course with a higher level of maturity and motivation – not to mention a vast improvement in my time management skills!”

Brighton research showcased in South Africa

Dr Mary Gearey, Research Fellow from the School of Environment and Technology, presented the work from three University of Brighton research projects at the South African National Wetlands Indaba, held in the Eastern Cape town of Port Edward during 16th to 19th October 2017. The Indaba is a prestigious event, bringing together academics, environmental activists, NGOs and government officials from South Africa and beyond in a forum for mutual learning and policy development across sectors, with wetlands integrity at its heart.

Showcasing the school’s work at the conference, Dr Gearey presented the work that she and her colleagues have developed, exploring human wellbeing within a variety of UK wetlands. Particularly focusing upon community engagement to support the long term health of wetlands, Dr Gearey outlined work undertaken in the River Adur catchment, in support of the AHRC funded Towards Hydrocitizenshipand within the current WetlandLIFE project (www.wetlandlife.org) running until 2019.

San Lameer wetlands, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa 17th October 2017

As Dr Gearey explains: “The Indaba was a tremendous opportunity to learn from our African colleagues, who have consistently argued and championed for the right to a thriving and protected natural environment. Drawing upon examples of best practise from across the continent, the case studies presented at the Indaba highlighted the need to encourage practitioners, activists, and communities to collaboratively work together to problem solve in the context of both degraded environments and in light of potential climate change impacts.

Examples of collaborative interventions include the restoration of the Lake St Lucia estuarine wetlands in Kwa-Zulu Natal utilising GIS modelling to enable government departments to visualise, and so invest in, land use change; reappraising eldritch pre-colonial community totems for wetland protection in Benin and using cosmic ray probes to profile wetland hill-slope soil moisture in Swaziland in support of open source data for citizen science initiatives.

Presenting my inter-disciplinary wetlands research, with its strong focus on social science, was welcomed by the Indaba attendees. Although the social and economic contexts between the global South and North are vastly different, we all agreed that community support and engagement is essential to enable the security of wetland environments around the world. Walking through KwaZulu Natal’s beautiful San Lameer wetlands, a combination of protected indigenous wetland and constructed wetland to support the water needs of the local community, it is fantastic to see an example of both working with nature and leaving space for nature. I have been invited by wetland scientists at the University of Swaziland to share our School of Environment and Technology’s water and community work; so I very much hope to be returning to this beautiful part of the world as soon as I can.”

My placement at GE Aviation

Geraldine Rumbold
BSc (Hons) Physical Geography and Geology

“By undertaking a placement year as an Environment Health and Safety Intern, it has been the best decision that I could have made for my career. It has expanded and developed my skills including team work, decision making, project management and emotional intelligence, which I could not have gained at university. In addition, I have received an extra qualification (Nebosh National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety), which will improve my career opportunities in any career I pursue in the future. I would highly recommend anyone to pursue an internship to gain a year’s experience. In the long term, it will make you a strong and desirable candidate when applying for Graduate Schemes or Postgraduate Opportunities.”

My placement at Johnson & Johnson

Shane Voight
BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

“As a Sustainability Coordinator with Johnson & Johnson each day is very varied. I can be developing presentations and business proposals for my next big project, walking around the site doing building audits, or doing a roadshow talking to people about sustainability, recycling, and environmental initiatives. I have developed a huge amount over the year. My biggest achievement has been leading and managing Energy Week, which involved communicating to Johnson & Johnson staff the importance of environmental initiatives. My placement has been an enjoyable experience and I’ve had great support from my team and made great friendships with the other placement students.”

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.

Government is too slow on car pollution

Our Head of School and a lead researcher on air pollution, Dr Kirsty Smallbone, has urged the Government to bring forwards its plans to ban new diesel and petrol cars from 2040.

She said: “Let’s go for 10 years time, plenty of time for the market to adjust, for a changeover in van and car fleet renewals and plenty of time for the government to develop incentive schemes to encourage vehicle trade-ins to meet the deadline.”

Dr Smallbone said over 50,000 people die each year in the UK from air pollution-related diseases, costing the NHS is around 16% of its total budget: “Why is this not declared a public health crisis public health crisis which demands immediate action?

“After all, liver diseases related to heavy drinking kill 12,300 people per year and this is considered a public health emergency.”

Dr Smallbone 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