International Office Blog

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Pieter Fourie

Winning the Environmental Award will always remind me what I can achieve

In August 2020, Environmental Sciences student Pieter Fourie spoke to us about the impact winning he University’s Environmental Award has had on his academic life.


I am the recipient of the Environmental Award from the University of Brighton for my dissertation which investigated possible links in pathogen transport in water and microplastics. I was incredibly surprised to hear that I had won, I was confident in my work, but I understood it was highly competitive with several brilliant projects being submitted for review every year.


My project looked whether microplastic substrates could act as a vector for transporting pathogens in the River Ouse. Data collection was hindered by the COVID-19 lockdown however, it was still possible to shown that pathogens do accumulate onto the surface of microplastics in faecal contaminated water. The intention of the project was to better understand the possible negative impacts of microplastic pollution in surface water and looking at ways to reduce or limit these impacts.

Receiving this award has given me a much needed confidence boost in going forward as I pursue a MSc in Hydro-Morphology at the University of Brighton and will always be a reminder of what I can achieve even when doubting my abilities from time to time. I have opted to delay receiving my award till graduation day so that I could celebrate this achievement with my peers and the brilliant supervisors who helped develop me as a student.

My time at the University of Brighton has been a story of immense growth. I started my journey with a passion for understanding the processes that shape landscapes such as rivers and coasts. The amazing and knowledgeable staff at the School of Environment and Technology has provided me with the opportunity to develop that passion into knowledge that has propelled me forward into wanting to explore these subject matters even further. The teaching environment and opportunities available at the university has driven me to undertake an MSC By Learning Objectives in Hydro-Morphology which is a masters consisting of taught classes and tailored modules to offer me very specific and specialised skills and knowledge.

My vision goes further yet as I aim to undertake a PhD once I have earned my masters with the hopes of doing it at the University of Brighton which has become a major part of my life.

My undergraduate degree is a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Sciences and is a course I would recommend highly to anyone thinking about applying to the University of Brighton. The modules available allow you to tailor the degree to suit what you are most passionate about whether it is physical geography, environmental policy, climate change, or technical analysis of remotely sensed data (i.e. satellite data). The course offers multiple fieldtrips, some of which are international. The second-year fieldtrip to Sicily was the most enjoyable learning experience I have had at university. A combination of multiple subject areas to explore and highly skilled professionals delivering them in the classroom has made me a better student and individual I would have thought possible.

In closing I would like to acknowledge the amazing supervision and guidance from Dr. Annie Ockelford, Prof. James Ebdon, and Dr. Sarah Purnell, without whom this project would not have been possible.

Environmental Sciences

Olivia Weatherill • January 8, 2021

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