Welcome to the blog of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton. This will keep you up to date with both student and staff activities.

The Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences includes staff with interests in biological sciences, conservation, ecology, environmental sciences, environmental statistics, geography and waste management. We offer a range of degree programmes and have a number of postgraduate research students. For more information about studying with us please visit http://www.northampton.ac.uk/.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Waste scavenging in Nigeria

Chinyere Abaneme, postgraduate researcher

My research aims to examine the environmental and socio-economic impacts of scavenging on communities and households by the informal waste sector in a chosen case study area in my home country Nigeria. Waste scavenging with the aim of selling recyclables for recycling and reuse in Nigeria over time is increasingly becoming an income generating activity, with little or no recognisable economic or environmental benefits due to limited observational research. Nevertheless, most developed countries have understood the essence of effective waste management and through many years of research and active practice, have uncovered that it is crucial in economic development and environmental sustainability as well as reduces natural resource use and aids climate change mitigation.

Therefore, my research will review the key environmental policies and legal framework relating to waste management in my case study area among other objectives in order to develop best practice guidelines for the informal sector. Qualitative methods will be employed.

So far, the support with research and academics accorded to me by the University is phenomenal. I have attended several advanced trainings and skills acquisition programmes which have helped broaden my horizon and the experience has been invaluable. My supervisors and mentor as well have been very helpful in ensuring that I keep track on the goings-on in the waste industry globally.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

BSc Environmental Science Students in 2015 Prospectus

Two BSc Environmental Science students feature in the 2015 University of Northampton prospectus. Naima Afruz and Yochebel Shungu were successful in their application to the Chancellor's Fund.  The money awarded contributed to a field trip to Iceland in which they collected samples for their final year dissertation projects.  

Friday, 16 May 2014

Reflections of a Commonwealth Professional Fellow

Sampson Atiemo

When I arrived in Northampton on the 2nd of February 2014 to take up this fellowship, I was full of uncertainties and anxieties. I did not know the calibre of staff I will be meeting, what will be their attitude towards me and what I intend to do here. At the time of applying for this fellowship I contacted Prof. Margaret Bates (Centre for Sustainable Wastes) because she was the only academic I knew in the UK then. My first day in the University on the 3rd February gave me a clear idea of what expect from staff and students of the University; A WARM WELCOME!

From office to office I see broad smiles on the faces of people. Everybody wants to say Hi and ask about Ghana and the kind of research I was here to conduct. Thanks Dr. Waleed Montasser for conducting me round the University (both Avenue and Park campuses). My first meeting with Margaret to plan the itinerary for my visit was another exciting task. From page to page in the diary we pencilled all the visits, meetings and conferences to be attended. On my return to St. John’s Hall of Residence I wondered whether all these could be achieved within a space of three months!

The purpose of my fellowship was to study Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) management in the UK and see which aspects and what practical solutions can be implemented within the Ghana context. With these objectives in mind, my visits were so carefully planned by Margaret and other Colleagues at the Centre to the extent that nothing was left behind. Starting with our visit to the Environment Agency in Solihull, the EnvironCom (Grantham), presentation at the S&T meeting of CIWM and travels to Leeds, Preston, Cardiff, Swansea, Coventry, Shrewsbury, Cambridge, Bletchley Park, Foxton Locks, Oxford or London etc. it was all fun as well as eye opening.

Through this fellowship, I have been to places and attended meetings I would only dream about. Sitting in such a high level meeting as Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) at British Parliament Committees sitting room is more than any fellow can ask for. After the meeting at the British Parliament and thanks to Barry Sheerman (MP) we went through the member’s only section the Westminster hall and lobby of the House of Lords and House of Commons at a time the Queen was celebrating Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey, I said myself, I can go back to Ghana now!

Capping it up with a visit to the Buckingham Palace made it even more wonderful. The fellowship in the University has made me meet top echelons of the wastes sector in UK and built a vast network that would remain indelible throughout my professional career and beyond.

Thanks to the University! Thanks to the Centre for Sustainable Wastes Management. To Margaret and her team, I say thank you. I would still select the University of Northampton even if I know one thousand more academics in the UK!!

From Left: Robert Reinhart, Sampson Atiemo, Barry Sheerman and Margaret Bates

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

University News: University of Northampton academic delivers short-courses to delegates at European Geosciences Union in Vienna

Robin Crockett, Reader in Data Analysis in the University of Northampton's Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, School of Science and Technology, has just returned from the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna where he delivered two 90-minute 'master class' short-courses to 200 delegates from around the world.

To read more about this please click here.

Pollinators and land use internship

Gilles Jean-Louis, an MSc Environmental Science student at University Koblenz-Landau in Germany, has joined the department on a 5-month internship to help on a postgraduate research project on pollinators and land use. Gilles is skilled in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and is currently mapping hedgerows to help test whether hedgerows act as corridors for pollinating insects. When the weather improves he hopes to get out in the field identifying bees.

Gilles says “I’ve lost all the negative stereotypes I used to have about British people and everyone I’ve met has been really nice. All my work colleagues are really friendly and helpful. Also, I am really impressed with how multicultural Britain is and with the lack of barriers between staff and students. Here you know all the lecturers by the first names - not like in my university back home.”

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Southwest USA Geography Field Trip 2014 #2

Dr Greg Spellman

The annual Second Year Geography field trip to the USA ran in the first two weeks of April. 32 students and 3 tutors flew into a hot Las Vegas airport only immediately to drive a mile high onto the Colorado plateau where the snow not only capped the mountains but still lay amongst the pine trees at our first hotel. This popular field trip is based on a 1000-mile loop around the high desert states of Arizona, Utah and Nevada. The route takes us across the Hoover Dam, along Route 66 and to a number of friendly, but small, American towns. We take in five National Parks (Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion), a National Monument (Sunset Crater Volcano) and a Navajo Tribal Park (Monument Valley). In the course of the trip we study three interconnected themes of landscape development, tourism and resource management.
Arches National Park

Visits to National Parks usually involve walking some form of trail which can range from ‘pleasant stroll’ to ‘strenuous’ (coming back up the trail at Grand Canyon, for instance, can be breathtaking in more ways than one). Each park is very different but the most popular this year was probably the immense sandstone structures at Arches National Park. The trip ends up with four nights in sunny Las Vegas where there is no shortage of all forms of Geography! This is the eleventh year we have run this hugely successful and enjoyable trip and students and staff alike never fail to be impressed by the ‘truly awesome’ environments.

Monday, 5 May 2014

South-west USA Geography Field Trip 2014 #1

 Dr Faith Tucker

At the start of the Easter break 32 intrepid Geography students travelled to SW USA for a two-week field trip. The trip (available to both Single Honours and Joint Honours Geography students) looks at three themes: tourism, geology and landscape development, and resource management.

After a long flight to Las Vegas, we managed a few hours sleep before heading off across the desert to Flagstaff, Arizona. On the way we drove down Route 66 and stopped off at a couple of small towns to learn about how tourism is key to the economy. We visited Sunset Crater National Monument to find out about the geological history of the area.
The Grand Canyon
Day two was a highlight for many – the Grand Canyon. We walked part-way along the South Kaibab Trail and also learned about resource management at the Canyon. The following day was spent travelling across the Navajo Nation, with stops at Monument Valley and Moenave Dinosaur Tracks. These sites provided opportunities to compare the types of resource management seen at Grand Canyon National Park to those on the Navajo Reservation.

A number of days were spent in Moab, Utah. We visited the spectacular Arches National Park and also spent a day interviewing locals about the impacts of adventure tourism on the local economy and environment.

Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park were visited during the second week of the trip. These very contrasting environments provided great opportunities to learn about landscape development, and to put into practice our developing fieldwork and research skills.

Las Vegas was our base for the final part of the trip. Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, but its location in a desert means it faces tremendous challenges in relation to water management. It is also an interesting location to study tourism and the particular ‘brand’ of Las Vegas.

A great – if extremely tiring! – time was had by all.

The group in Las Vegas