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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/.

Monday, 23 June 2014

A PhD student’s tale by Jennine Evans: A new and muddy beginning


After enrolling as a Geomorphology PhD student on the 30th May 2014 I was whisked away on the 2nd June to perform field work for four days… into the deep end I go! Only knowing a vague amount about the project from the job description and the research I’d performed for the interview, I found myself stumbling though the South Downs National Park in search of the River Rother. The river is suffering sediment accumulation and my job is to assess the source of erosion and then to help solve this problem through the suggestion of mitigation options. The first site we visited was in fact, not the River Rother itself but Furnace Pond which is part of a tributary stream called the Hammer Stream. These are so named due to the historical purpose of the man-made lake to build iron goods such as cannons.

The flapjack-stealing fiend!
As we set up ready for our sampling I was introduced to some interesting, some basic and some ancient (but effective!) equipment to take aboard our inflatable boats. Our voyages of the first day were very successful, gaining five substantial cores (yes substantial - I’m now finding out how much lab work these create!) which will be valuable in determining the historical sedimentation rate of the lake. I also learnt a very valuable lesson in not trusting strange farm dogs who easily befriend you. This particular red furred beauty charmed his way into the group only to steal our lovely flap jacks! The fiend!

Recording the location before coring
Anyway back to more professional matters… The rest of the trip was a success and could not have gone any better! We had fantastic weather which allowed us to gain more cores from the dried up Mill Pond, whose dam broke in the winter floods, took sediment samples from strategic locations along the Hammer Stream and Lod Stream, and sediment from nearby fields and roads. These samples are now giving me plenty to be getting on with in the lab and soon we will know what valuable information our venture has brought!


So ultimately the field trip has been the best start to this PhD that I could wish for. I have visited all the areas I will be studying, have seen the land use issues for myself and have now been left pondering over many questions which will hopefully begin to be answered by my muddy samples in the labs! Although to be honest I think they may just raise more questions… But more than all of that, I’ve been able to work closely with my new team and built up some good working relationships already… over a cheeky pint or three!

Successful coring team with the cores
Jennine’s PhD is funded jointly by the South Downs National Park and the University of Northampton.