Skip to main content

Welcome to our 2020 MScR cohort in Global Environmental Challenges!

September 2020 saw the arrival of the latest cohort on the MScR in Global Environmental Challenges. This year, we have students representing four Faculties, and six Schools; each with a unique independent research project that focuses on some of the most pressing challenges faced today. 

With projects ranging from using chemistry to create clean air to artistic expressions of activism in Chile, we are delighted to introduce to you some of our new students below.  


Harry Forrester 


Can glacial flour stimulate N cycling in croplands? - School of Geographical Sciences 

This research involves an investigation of the effects of glacial flour as a stimulant of microbial nitrogen cycling in cropland. Through this study, I aim to establish myself as a well-rounded Biogeochemist and explore interdisciplinary collaborations throughout the academic community. I hope to gain insight into environmental policy making, preparing me to enact effective change. 


Lauren Prouse  


An analysis into the ability of CMIP6 models reproducing the Sahelian droughts and what impact this has on their future climate predictions - School of Geographical Sciences 

After completing my undergraduate dissertation here in the Geography department, I wanted to continue working on something similar. My undergraduate dissertation investigated the climatic impacts of the Great Green Wall of Africa - a forestry initiative implemented following the droughts across the Sahel region. Working with my supervisor Paul Valdes, we devised an idea of examining the ability of CMIP6 models to represent the Sahelian droughts of the 1970s and 80s, and whether their ability to do so affects their future climate change predictions for the Sahel. This is particularly important because the IPCC has recognised this region as a hotspot for the impacts of climate change, so researching potential future impacts will be useful for mitigation planning. 

Dora Young  

What would a "just transition" in Bristol look like? - School of Geographical Sciences 

I'm a geography graduate from the University of Manchester. My academic interest areas are critical cartography and public participatory GIS. My experience studying Indigenous research methodologies in Australia and environmental humanities at undergraduate level also inspired me to develop research techniques that demonstrate a multiplicity of situated, embodied knowledges for democratic land use planning.  

I'm excited to join the City Futures theme and its inspiring cohort. I hope to build on my skills of research design to produce a useful map-based participatory planning tool for Bristol and, potentially, other urban areas. It's my intention map and visualise qualitative and quantitative spatial data, gathered as a collaborative community project, in order to inform both academic institutions and political governing bodies as they embark on ecological transitions and actualise shared futures.   

I’m also interested in the diverse ways that people ‘read’ the messages expressed by their landscapes - natural and built - and how we form ‘cognitive maps’ of our surroundings. This is particularly interesting to me as we navigate radically shifting environments. I have some (limited) experience working across disciplines; my sister - a neuroscientist at the Charité University, Berlin - and I hosted a virtual spatial navigation workshop earlier this year. We explored the impacts of lockdown and modern life more generally on our spatial navigation capacities, cultural histories of navigation and how they relate to neural development, and how navigating can help combat eco-anxiety. We are currently working on a collaborative book chapter exploring the latter theme with two German authors; one GIS specialist and spatial anthropologist from the Universitaet Goettingen and a futures studies master from FU Berlin. 


Fanny Lehmann  


How is the global water cycle responding to climate change? - School of Geographical Sciences 

I am a graduate mathematics student from the Ecole Normale Supérieure. I come from Grenoble, a city in the French Alps surrounded by mountains. I am naturally passionate about mountains, a place where climate change is so undeniable that it impacts our sporty lives. I see mathematics as a tool to model the world and help to predict its evolution. My Master’s by Research project focuses on the impact of climate change on the water cycle as part of the Global Mass project. I am delighted to start this year in such a vibrant community and hope to make the most of it to determine the research area of my PhD. 


Helen Sheehan  


Machine learning for wind flow modelling - School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering 

I graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2016 with an MEng in Aerospace Engineering, and since then I've worked for a consultancy in Bristol as an engineer within the energy sector, primarily in nuclear power and offshore wind. I'm back at university to undertake Cabot's MScR programme, with a project on "Machine Learning for Wind Flow Modelling", which combines my interests in low carbon energy and software development. Although it'll probably be a very different university experience for the first few months at least, I'm excited to take on this new challenge, gain new skills at the cutting edge of energy technology, and meet researchers from across the Cabot Institute! 

Lauryn Jones 

Eco-innovations for sustainable consumption: Bringing refill stations into leading supermarkets to reduce household plastic consumption - School of Management 

During my time at Cabot I hope to gain lots of new insight into environmental challenges around the world and meet new people with innovative ideas. My personal research will be focussing on bringing refill facilities into supermarkets in order to reduce single use plastics, as well as looking at possible impacts the coronavirus pandemic may have had on people's perception of the use of plastics. 


Adam Chmielowski  


Change: environmental, cultural, technological change and the stories of sustainable futures - School of Management 

I’m thrilled to be starting my MScR at Cabot.  My research topic is “Change: environmental, cultural, technological change and stories of sustainable futures” and I’ll be exploring different ways of thinking about change, asking what forms of change are conceptualised in environmental campaigns and how effective they are in helping people transition to a more sustainable society.  I’m fascinated by the role of culture in enabling or constraining human behaviour, storytelling and the role of future visions to inspire action, and how you create change at a systemic or cultural, not just individual, level.  My research will run parallel to my day job which is running a strategy and insight agency called Starling (I’m awe-struck by murmurations!) where we help brands innovate and communicate better by analysing culture.  In the spirit of cross-disciplinary collaboration, I believe there is much more that the business world and academia can learn from each other to help tackle environmental challenges, so I hope I can help advance that effort.         

Over the next year, we look forward to sharing their work and providing opportunities to mingle with the wider Cabot Institute community. Our very first cohort will also be graduating soon, so stay tuned to hear more about them and share in their success! 

-------------------------------------
This blog was written by Cabot Institute MScR Coordinator, Jo Norris. You can start the Cabot MScR at any time of year and there are plenty of incredible earth-saving projects to dive into. Find out more on our website at bristol.ac.uk/cabot/postgraduate-opportunities/cabot-masters/

Popular posts from this blog

Converting probabilities between time-intervals

This is the first in an irregular sequence of snippets about some of the slightly more technical aspects of uncertainty and risk assessment.  If you have a slightly more technical question, then please email me and I will try to answer it with a snippet. Suppose that an event has a probability of 0.015 (or 1.5%) of happening at least once in the next five years. Then the probability of the event happening at least once in the next year is 0.015 / 5 = 0.003 (or 0.3%), and the probability of it happening at least once in the next 20 years is 0.015 * 4 = 0.06 (or 6%). Here is the rule for scaling probabilities to different time intervals: if both probabilities (the original one and the new one) are no larger than 0.1 (or 10%), then simply multiply the original probability by the ratio of the new time-interval to the original time-interval, to find the new probability. This rule is an approximation which breaks down if either of the probabilities is greater than 0.1. For example

Urban gardens are crucial food sources for pollinators - here’s what to plant for every season

A bumblebee visits a blooming honeysuckle plant. Sidorova Mariya | Shutterstock Pollinators are struggling to survive in the countryside, where flower-rich meadows, hedges and fields have been replaced by green monocultures , the result of modern industrialised farming. Yet an unlikely refuge could come in the form of city gardens. Research has shown how the havens that urban gardeners create provide plentiful nectar , the energy-rich sugar solution that pollinators harvest from flowers to keep themselves flying. In a city, flying insects like bees, butterflies and hoverflies, can flit from one garden to the next and by doing so ensure they find food whenever they need it. These urban gardens produce some 85% of the nectar found in a city. Countryside nectar supplies, by contrast, have declined by one-third in Britain since the 1930s. Our new research has found that this urban food supply for pollinators is also more diverse and continuous

1-in-200 year events

You often read or hear references to the ‘1-in-200 year event’, or ‘200-year event’, or ‘event with a return period of 200 years’. Other popular horizons are 1-in-30 years and 1-in-10,000 years. This term applies to hazards which can occur over a range of magnitudes, like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, space weather, and various hydro-meteorological hazards like floods, storms, hot or cold spells, and droughts. ‘1-in-200 years’ refers to a particular magnitude. In floods this might be represented as a contour on a map, showing an area that is inundated. If this contour is labelled as ‘1-in-200 years’ this means that the current rate of floods at least as large as this is 1/200 /yr, or 0.005 /yr. So if your house is inside the contour, there is currently a 0.005 (0.5%) chance of being flooded in the next year, and a 0.025 (2.5%) chance of being flooded in the next five years. The general definition is this: ‘1-in-200 year magnitude is x’ = ‘the current rate for eve