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Issue 3 | Winter 2011 | Geography and Environment

Altitude Welcome to the Geography and Environment newsletter. In this issue, learn more on our diverse research from ethical garment production to wildfires, about new laboratory facilities and read about gold medal success for one of our leading academics.

Geography professor awarded gold medal | Page 3 Teaching labs are among the top in the UK | Page 3 Southampton launches debate on future of census | Page 2

Southampton launches debate on future of census A debate on the future of the census beyond 2011 was launched at a special conference run by Professor of Geography David Martin. The event, Looking Beyond 2011, brought together central and local government, academia and business, to talk for the first time about whether there should be another census in ten years’ time. David is Director of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Census Programme and has had significant involvement in establishing the areas on which census data is published. He organised the conference to start exploring the possible alternatives to a traditional census.

Research in Sri Lanka has provided first-hand insight into labour practices

Life after graduation Human Geography graduate Tarran Macmillan is enjoying life after the University of Southampton using his degree skills in his new job at consultancy firm SQW. Tarran graduated with a 2:1 last summer and is now working in the London office of the company that specialises in sustainable economic and social development. He said: “I am thoroughly enjoying working at the firm and am definitely using my degree. Much of the work I do involves using and collecting quantitative and qualitative data for projects around economic development, energy and health”. “My role links to the skills I gained in my Year 2 field trip and my dissertation experience, as well as modules I studied throughout my degree.”


Altitude | Winter 2011

Garments without guilt? Geography Lecturer Dr Kanchana Ruwanpura has been developing first-hand knowledge of the pressures on suppliers and labourers in producing garments to meet demand. Kanchana is taking part in a three-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)funded project on ethical trading and the evolution of labour practices. Her in-depth research in Sri Lanka has revealed some fascinating insights into the intricacies of garment production and the shaping of labour relations in response to improving the working lives of people who make consumer goods around the world. She has already produced papers that have been published in economic and development journals and is currently working on further papers. Her work has also been disseminated at several national and international workshops and conferences, including at the International Labour Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

Geography professor awarded gold medal Geography and Environment Professor Ted Milton has been awarded the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society gold medal for his sustained and distinguished contribution to the techniques and applications of remote sensing.

The new labs, including microscopes with teaching-camera, will enhance the learning experience.

In his early career Ted designed one of the first portable multiband radiometers to validate multispectral measurements from satellite sensors. More than 100 were produced and many are still used in education and training worldwide. He also established the NERC Equipment Pool for Field Spectroscopy and NCAVEO, a Knowledge Transfer Network for Calibration and Validation in Earth Observation, and has been involved in over 300 research projects, including several high profile international campaigns.

Professor Milton displaying medal, accompanied by Professor Paul Curran (VC of City University and President of RSPSoc) on the left and some of his current and former PhDs/RAs.

across many different areas of academic activity.

“My next research challenge will tackle the assimilation of data from ground-based He said: “This award means a great deal to and aerial platforms into a quality-assured me because it is recognition from my peers in environmental change space observatory for remote sensing for my sustained contribution the UK.”

BSc undergraduate wins national dissertation prize Physical Geography graduate Alexandra Semproni has been awarded a runners-up prize in the Student Award 2011 by the British Hydrological Society for her undergraduate thesis A morphological investigation of step-pools using flume experiments. Alexandra received a prize of £200 and reviewers said her dissertation was of outstanding quality. Her thesis investigated step-pool systems, which are predominantly present in steep channels where erosion of the banks and water bed is high. To reduce the potential energy of the water, the step-pools encourage tumbling flow that disperses the energy.

Alexandra Semproni

Teaching labs among the top in the UK Geography and Environment laboratories for teaching and research are equal to those of other top UK universities. Work has just been completed on a new 40-seat teaching laboratory in the Shackleton Building that includes the latest teaching technology. This includes a ‘super-smart board’ which can be used to display and annotate live-images from microscopes or blue-toothed results from analytical equipment. The Environmental Processes Laboratory has been extended and redesigned to create a new analytical laboratory. In addition, £400,000 has been spent this year on new physical geography equipment to enhance undergraduate fieldwork experience and add research capacity.

Alexandra’s thesis considered step-pool structure through a series of flume experiments. The award is presented by the British Hydrological Society to promote the study of hydrology and to raise awareness of the Society at undergraduate level. Altitude | Winter 2011


Quantifying the impact of wildfires on the environment Research by Remote Sensing Lecturer Gareth Roberts is using satellite data to better understand the impact and effect of wildfires on the natural environment. Wildfires release large quantities of trace gases and aerosols into the atmosphere and the removal of vegetation also affects the carbon cycle and surface radiative properties. Gareth is using the development of thermal Earth observation methods to measure the amount of carbon stored in the Earth that is released during wildfires. He hopes that his investigations could lead to health alerts being provided in areas that are forecast to experience poor air quality as a result of wildfires.

BA undergraduate wins Royal Geographical Society prize Geography graduate Jamie Dennis was awarded second place in the Royal Geographical Society Population Geography Research Group Joanna Stillwell Memorial Prize for Best Undergraduate Dissertation. She received the ÂŁ50 prize for her undergraduate thesis Developing a geodemographic typology of attitudes to alcohol consumption in England. The judging panel was impressed by her professional writing skills that set her thesis apart from other entries. They said that the data she used was sound and sensible with a very interesting focus on four particular attitudes to alcohol consumption drawn from the Health Survey for England 2007.

Jamie’s dissertation explored the topic of alcohol consumption as one of the leading health-related behaviours intensifying the strain upon the government and health care systems. She hopes that her study will gain an understanding of people’s attitudes to alcohol in England and help predict variations in overt behaviour and essentially lead to the implementation of schemes that can initiate change.

For more information or to discuss our courses contact: +44(0)23 8059 3760

Jamie Dennis

Geography and Environment newsletter  
Geography and Environment newsletter  

Welcome to the Geography and Environment newsletter. In this issue, learn more on our diverse research from ethical garment production to wi...