Meet Professor James Ebdon

I am an Environmental Microbiologist interested in the role of water in the spread and control of water-related diseases. I’m particularly interested in how we can protect human health and aquatic environments.

What drew you to teaching your subject?

I first became interested in water pollution during my undergraduate degree at the University of Brighton, nearly 30 years ago. I was fortunate to be taught by an inspirational lecturer (Prof Huw Taylor) who got us investigating the impact of agriculture on local river water quality. This involved fieldwork at a nearby agricultural college and laboratory testing back on campus. From this moment I never looked back, and to this day I thoroughly enjoy the combination of fieldwork and lab-work. Only now I get to lead fieldwork activities and lecture about the joys of conducting environmental research in a range of challenging settings. 

How do you combine teaching with your professional life/work in the field?

Throughout my teaching career I have been heavily involved with international research projects, conducting fieldwork in Malawi, India, Nepal, Brazil, Vietnam, and Hawaii (funded by UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, British Council). This has allowed me to bring in contemporary, real-world case material into my teaching on modules such as Global Environmental Challenges, Water, Sanitation and Health and to develop dissertations with my students focussed on addressing pressing environmental challenges. This way students get to engage with and benefit from cutting-edge applied research, long before it has even been reported in leading international scientific journals.   

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Laura Evenstar

Meet Dr Laura Evenstar

Dr Laura Evenstar specialises in geomorphology, sedimentology and superficial ore deposits from tectonically active arid regions around the world. Laura is the course leader for Geography BSc(Hons).

I teach on a range of different subject areas

Within the first year we explore the large-scale interactions of the earth and climate and how it has changes from the formation of the planet, 4.6 billion years ago, up to the modern day.  Towards the later part of the courses I teach my main passion, how landscapes form and change as they are sculpted by movement of ice, water and wind.

Within Dynamic Landscapes module my students learn about a range of different landscapes and how they form. At the end of the course they construct their own research project on the landscape element they are most excited by. The chance to choose their own area of interest’s beings out a passion in the students and led to some fascinating projects! In the past we have had students work on understanding desert dune migration in Afghanistan, slumping of landslides off the highest volcano in the Solar System (Olympus Mons), and even mapping out river systems in Martian Meteorite craters. The students love taking ownership of their projects!

Within the first year in the Earth and Ocean System option module we explain how the climate over the last 4.6 billion years has changed in response to development of different life forms. We read science articles on different theories for the origin of Life and debate their findings. And, to finish the course, we visit the Natural History museum where we utilise the fantastic displays to refresh everything we have learnt over the year. The students love the mixture of different learning styles to understand these fascinating topics!

My students get involved in my research

I engage students into a variety of different research activities. For example, at undergraduate our students work together to analyse a series of rivers in the Atacama Desert. This cutting-edge research is being used, combined with my own, to model how the Andean Mountain chain has uplift over the last 10 million years.

Our undergraduate dissertation students have the opportunity to work on and create high profile research data which feeds directly into future published academic papers. For example, previous students have constructed detailed geomorphic maps of the Afar Region, Ethiopia, to unravel East African climate change while other students have mapped out landslides in the Atacama Desert to produce risk maps for the most vulnerable communities in southern Peru. There are also opportunities for students to do a summer internship on these topics funded by Santander!

You can find out more about Dr Evenstar’s research here.

We support our students at every step of the way

We operate an open-door policy so that, at any time, a student can pop in for a chat about any personal or academic issues they are facing. As a personal tutor, for any of my students that feel they need some extra support, I provide a weekly to monthly catch up sessions, to discuss anything from time management to report writing!

What I love most about teaching

I love watching how our student come out of their shell over the time they study with us. My favourite classes to teach are the final years sessions when the students are comfortable with you as a lecturer and happy to questions what you are teaching them or even mock your jokes!

My favourite location in Sussex is

Cuckmere Valley, it has such a beautiful geological history with amazing walks.