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/.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

British Society for Geomorphology Annual Conference 2014, University of Manchester

Mattie Biddulph

As Geomorphologists, Jenny Evans and I are members of the British Society for Geomorphology. Every year there is a three-day conference, based around the general theme of geomorphology. There is a big emphasis on encouraging postgraduates to get involved, and helping them with their careers once they graduate. This year it was at the University of Manchester.

I arrived on the Sunday evening at the halls I would be staying in, after quite a lot of walking round in circles trying to find it… Manchester is a LOT bigger than Northampton! On Monday morning there was a special workshop for postgrads, where a panel was set up made up of a mixture of academics and industry workers in varying stages of their careers. This panel then gave advice and answered questions on career choices, worries surrounding an academic life, and tip on getting a job. It was very useful, but a lot of us spent the coffee break worrying about the potential prospect of moving location year after year for the next decade.

In the afternoon the conference officially began, with a River Restoration workshop, which was very apt for Jenny and me. It was really interesting to see different approaches to restoration, especially seeing examples of when it has gone badly wrong. Dr Malcolm Newson gave a particularly interesting talk, where he described the difficulties in trying to talk to the general public, particularly after flood events when tensions are running high. That evening we were given a buffet and drinks in the Manchester Museum, surrounded by fossils and dinosaur skeletons!
View of the Manchester Museum

The next day was made up of talks ranging from: the importance of long-term water quality records, to marine-influenced ice sheet decay, to channel migration in the Mekong River. Geomorphology is a huge and extremely varied subject. Today was also the day for a talk from Northampton’s Ian Foster, who gave a very interesting presentation, titled “Are lake/reservoir sediments really sensitive to environmental change? A question and (sort of) an answer from a case study in S. Africa.” That evening we had a conference dinner, set in the Christie’s library, which was a beautiful setting. 
Wednesday was the final day for the conference, again with a huge variety of talks, including an award lecture from Professor Jonathan Phillips from Kentucky, where he described geomorphology as ‘badass’, and gave us advice on how to become badass ourselves- that got our attention! We had a brilliant three days; the good thing about this society is that you can always count on seeing familiar faces each year, all with similar interests regardless of their specific research. We were all very tired by the end, despite being sat in a lecture theatre for the majority of the time - I think most people can relate to the mysteries of sleepiness whilst sat in those rooms…