Writing a bit about myself…


Hi there! My name is Hannah, I’m 20 years old and I’m a first year student studying Ecological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. I’ve really just got here, so in the next weeks I’m gonna tell you a bit about settling into this beautiful city and about my first courses.

For now I’m just really glad that, after two years of constantly moving from one place to the other (from my village in Germany to Belfast in Northern Ireland to Kiel at the Baltic Sea and back), I’ve finally arrived in a place where I can stay for at least the next four years!

A bit more about myself… I really like singing. I’ve been singing in different choirs since I was about four years old. Also, my intention to try something new at university made me take part in belly dancing classes which, believe me or not, are really fun, although I probably look ridiculous doing it (no, there will be no pictures!). I’ve always been fascinated by all things arctic and it’s a dream of mine to go there one day. One thing I really enjoy is ringing birds, even if I have to get up at four in the morning for that. I haven’t found anyone here that could teach me a bit more yet, so if by any chance you know someone in or around Edinburgh that is involved with bird-ringing, please please do write me.

That’s it for know,

I’ll write more soon.

Viele Grüße (that’s a nice form of saying ‘regards’ in German),


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Introduce myself I must…

Hey! My name is Rebecca and I am a fourth year student studying Geography, with a lot of emphasis on Physical Geography; I practically run away from the human side of things. I am currently writing my dissertation on the modelling of Japan’s carbon emissions but my heart definitely lies within the world of glaciology and quantitative analysis.

‘Ice rocks’, glaciers are cool, climate change is a hot topic… I’ll see myself out.


I’ve been on the committee of the Geographical Society since I was in first year, and I’ve gone back to my role of being Creative Manager – which basically means I get to make awesome posters and newsletters. Through this I also work on the coffee shop at Drummond, so if you are ever passing by don’t be afraid to say hey! Plus, we sell super cheap but extremely nice tea and coffee.

When I’m not at Drummond I like to play games such as Civilization V, World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Magic the Gathering, and occasionally D&D. I also love watching anime so if you ever see me “working” in coffee shop… you’ll know I’m not working.

I’m looking forward to blogging about the wonderful world of being a geoscience student here at Edinburgh, so I shall end with three random facts about myself. 1) I have an unhealthy obsession with musicals, particularly Hamilton: An American Musical, 2) I don’t like cheese or chocolate, and 3) I can recite Pi to 50 decimal place…

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A Little About Me :)

IMG_8262.PNGHi everyone! My name is Chris, and I am part of the carbon management masters program. I have a degree in neuroscience from Bates College, but after I graduated, I decided to return to environmental studies. I chose Edinburgh because I did not have the opportunity to study abroad.

I have studied Japanese and French, and I am absolutely obsessed with Japan! I love watching anime, reading manga, and practicing calligraphy. I am also a ballroom dancer, and love fashion!

Also… Fun fact… If you want to learn how to crochet a sock monkey, I am your guy for that🙂

Oh! and be careful… I do have an identical twin brother on campus, so if you ever say hi to him, and he acts strange, do not worry, he is super wonderful🙂



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Workshop:Postgrad Launchpad – Part I: Thinking about a masters? – 12 October 2016 — iad4masters

Postgrad Launchpad – Part I: Thinking about a masters? Wednesday 12th October 2016 @ 13:00 – 14:30 This information session will explore the purpose of masters study as well as the practicalities of researching study and funding options, and the application process. To find out more and to book a place, please follow the following […]

via Workshop:Postgrad Launchpad – Part I: Thinking about a masters? – 12 October 2016 — iad4masters

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#geopgt Hoodie Competition 2016

We had some fantastic entries this year for our #hoodie competition. But our number 1 has to be this stunning picture from Radheeka Jirasinha who has just finished studying our MSc in Environment and Development.

The pictures show her classmates enjoying the beautiful Isle of Mull.

Radheeka wins an iPad mini for her entry!

Well done.

And for the Class of 2017… Get those entries in!




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Deforestation and the extinction crisis

By Guest blogger Murray Collins

Forests cover about a third of the world’s surface, and are home to an extraordinary array of life forms, or biodiversity. As every school child learns, the tropical rainforests are particularly resplendent in their biodiversity, containing an astonishing range of species of plants, fungi and animals. Our closest living relatives, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orang utans live in these rainforests, as did our own ancestors before walking onto the savannah: forests are our evolutionary home. Today, a billion people around the world continue to rely directly upon forests for food and fresh water; whilst the rest of us depend on them indirectly for climate regulation. However, despite their significance, huge areas of tropical forest have already been cleared, and we are destroying what is left at a very high rate.

The Indonesian island of Sumatra is a case in point. It is home to the world’s tallest (Amorphophallus sp.) and largest (Rafflesia sp.) flowers, and is the only place on earth that all of the Jungle Book animals may be found living together. So you may be forgiven therefore for imagining Sumatra to be covered with rainforest and exotic creatures. However, the reality is that most of the island’s lowland rainforest has now been destroyed to make way for agriculture, industrial tree plantations, and oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations that provide oil used to make soap, crisps and cooking oil for the international market. The majority of Sumatra’s remaining natural forest is in the Bukit Barisan mountain range, but now even this is being cleared, and even within national parks.

The clearance of this forest has huge implications for people, biodiversity and climate. Sumatra’s indigenous forest people, the Orang Rimba, have lost their homes and way of life, as their forest world is destroyed around them. Migrant farmers, moving to the forest edge to clear land, find that as they remove the forest, that rivers are far more variable in their supply of water over the year, making crop production more difficult. When the forest is burned to prepare it for agriculture, the carbon rich peat which lie across Sumatra’s eastern lowlands often ignites, causing enormous carbon emissions and smog that affects both Indonesia and neighbouring Singapore (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/05/forest-fires-in-indonesia-choke-much-of-south-east-asia). Emissions from such deforestation and forest degradation around the world now account for approximately 15% of all carbon emissions from human activity, which contributes to climate change, and which in turn feeds back into instability in agricultural production.

When the forest is removed the diversity of the trees and plants which constitute the forest itself may be lost entirely, since some species are highly specialised and found nowhere else. Other mobile and wide ranging species like tigers find themselves increasing isolated in islands of forest in a sea of human activity. These individuals then find it harder to find mates, increasing the probability of inbreeding and producing less fit offspring in the remaining forest patches.

It is this rapid forest loss and fragmentation and its impact on tigers in particular that I am highlighting through my position as Environmental Scientist in Residence at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. Here I am using high resolution satellite imagery to illustrate to visitors to the new tiger exhibit (http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/news/article/10364/tigers-make-tracks-to-new-home/) the extent of forest loss around Berbak national park, a last home of Sumatran tigers. I will also be giving a public talk on deforestation later in the year (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/from-muddy-boots-to-adventures-in-space-monitoring-the-worlds-forests-tickets-25402048210)

Meanwhile, in the office I am developing new techniques to measure deforestation using satellite radar data with Dr Ed Mitchard at the School of GeoSciences, in the hope that better forest monitoring capacity will go some way to supporting improved forest conservation and management in the future, for instance under REDD+. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reducing_emissions_from_deforestation_and_forest_degradation)



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Why I chose the Marine Systems and Policies Masters

I am James Nikitine, 30 years old, French and British, originally from near Geneva, Switzerland. With a background in film, digital media, public relations and advocacy, I worked for 3 years in Geneva and Oxford for an environmental production company, Green.TV and for a non-governmental organization working on links between conflict and land degradation: Land, Lives, Peace. Before that, and after my BA at Exeter, I spent 3 years backpacking in the South Pacific, in Samoa, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand where I worked as a dive guide on the Great Barrier Reef. It was then that I realized I wanted to pursue in marine, so I also became a diving instructor last year. I enrolled in the MSc marine systems and policies at the University of Edinburgh and am almost there! Although I grew up in the Alps near Geneva, my relationship with the ‘blue’ is long running as I started diving when I was 8, diving in Corsica with my family.

Recently our ‘pod’ of 15 marine MSc students from 12 different countries spent two weeks on a traditional remote atoll in the Maldives, learning research field methods at the University of Milano-Bicocca’s maRHE marine lab, through underwater work, geomorphology of atoll islands and social research methods. This experience was highly valuable, as we learnt how to understand tropical island processes through an interdisciplinary prism, a methodology very much at the core of the MSc programme. To me this holistic mentality is extremely necessary, in order to understand how systems and policies work. Having spent time working internationally with UN, NGOs and business professionals, when speaking to them all came to the same conclusion: working in silos is inefficient, and we must work understanding holistically. This approach embedded in the Maldives trip is immensely necessary as one tackles issues such as waste management, natural resource management, or even when monitoring corals for bleaching. Being on a traditional island such as Magoodhoo for an immersive 9 days made this programme even more relevant to the problems our world faces. During the trip, I took the opportunity to interview our programme director, Dr. Meriwether Wilson, the head of Geosciences Prof. Sandy Tudhope, and social anthropologist Dr. Laura Jeffery while we were looking for whale sharks. You will shortly be able to watch the videos on the marine website.

The trip was made particularly interesting as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was asking for people to submit data for their citizen science bleaching monitoring project. As this year’s El Niño Southern Oscillation event is particularly strong, records were showing between 1-2C˚ sea surface temperature rise (SST) for the Indian Ocean, thus affecting coral’s ability to retain their symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae. When we arrived in Malé the capital, we made a visit to the IUCN office (photo of us in the office) where Gabriel Grimsditch and their fantastic team told us about their activities in coral resilience through their project REGENERATE. This was a great way to introduce our work in maRHE! You can find out more about their work here.

Finally, one of my fondest memories from being in the Maldives was when during a sunset sail, our entire group jumped off the top of the boat, known as Donhi, and were all laughing and having fun. It was a great experience and I would recommend it!

DSC_6612 DSC_6226

Since October 2015, I have been a member of the IUCN World Commission for Protected Areas (WCPA) and also an active volunteer contributor to the IUCN WCPA Marine Young Professionals Task Force. In December, we created an infographic on the links between ocean and climate for display during ocean day at COP21, and we are now working on a blue solutions competition for the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in September.More information

After completing this MSc with a dissertation on large-scale marine protected areas and Pitcairn, I wish to continue my efforts working in marine conservation, running projects, communicating and educating through advocacy. I believe it is crucially important to protect our ocean as it is the life support system on our planet. As population increases, the pressure on the ecosystems is huge. We simply cannot maintain healthy biodiversity levels if we pursue with our consumption model and pathological neglect for the environment. We need to make peace with nature and work together in order to reach true sustainability. My family, wife Sylvie and first baby boy due in a few weeks are what is most precious to me in life. I want him to grow up in a world where there will be coral reefs, forests, and rich biodiversity. That is why we cannot wait to act and must work towards conservation and resilience immediately.

Connect with James – @jamesnikitine Twitter and Instagram


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Muddy Boots in the Sun (Ben Reid, Graduate)

IMG_8208Since graduating with my MSc in Ecosystem Services and BSc in Ecological Sciences I have found myself in wild and wacky places from anti-poaching work in Cyprus, land use surveying (aka being chased by cows) in Scotland and finally landing in Rwanda working with One Acre Fund.

You never know where life will take you but an ecologist working in rural African agricultural development was definitely a surprise and a hell of an adventure. From creating processes that would affect all 130 000 of our clients, lugging fertilisers in our rural distribution points or climbing volcanoes in my spare time, life out here has thrown it all at me.

Being an ecologist doesn’t mean you only know about trees and stuff but being able to see and analyse systems, patterns and processes and UoE was a great place to learn these life skills. Utilising these skills leading a 300 person team is challenging, hugely rewarding and is a definite reason to walk to work with a smile on your face.

If you are interested in what I get up to, please get in touch or check out how you can kick-start your dream career at www.oneacrefund.org.

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Inspire Launch Grow Applications due Friday!

The annual Inspire Launch Grow awards programme and event to showcase the first class entrepreneurial talent across the University of Edinburgh Staff and Student population. Finalists will compete for £14,000 worth of prize money and additional in‐kind support from industry partners.

Following a three month application and selection process twelve finalists will pitch at the Inspire Launch Grow event on the 9th of June where they will be joined by an audience of key partners from industry, government and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The day of pitches will be followed by an awards ceremony to recognise the astounding achievements of the university’s top entrepreneurial talent with three awards.

Apply now http://bit.ly/ILG-16

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What does the environment mean to you? 

Written by Dr. Christina Coakley (University Teacher, School of GeoSciences)

The end of Christmas marked my return to work after having my first child. I thought I would hit the ground running by getting involved with ILW and running an art exhibition as I did the previous year (Art in Crew! Words and Images Art Exhibition as part of Innovative Learning Week (ILW)). With the help of Gillian McCay (Assistant Curator of the Cockburn Museum) and many PhD students we managed to put on a great event, which (as all good events should) descended into musical chaos by the end!


Student prize winner Harold Wolstenholme’s image – A new perspective

The aim of this year’s event was to visually express what the environment means to our staff and students. Within the School of GeoSciences we have people working all over the world on a wide range of topics and in remote locations. We also have many different hobbies which use the environment around us, and therefore I thought this art exhibition would be a great insight into the people within our School. Staff and students were asked to submit a photograph or piece of art work for the event and I printed and framed these ready for ILW.

barrie talking (bw)

Barrie talking to staff and students

On the Thursday of ILW we had a drinks reception, where Barrie Williams (Winner of the British Wildlife Photography Award- bwpawards) gave a short talk about how he sees the environment and the importance of showing it to people via the images he collects. Barrie was lovely and spent a considerable amount of time with our students discussing their work.

In the closing stages of the event I counted up the votes for the best student piece. We had approximately 40 pieces of work submitted for undergraduate, masters students, PhD students and staff. Over 50 votes were cast and there were a wide range of favourites, however a few came out on top.

prize winner3

Student prize winners

First prize went to Harold Wolstenholme for his piece “A new perspective” (top image). Second prize went to Paula Nieto Quintano’s piece “hiking in Valgrande” and third prize went to Leo Peskett’s piece “Unfurling nature’s geometry” (Right hand side photograph is of Paula, me and Leo).



The event came to a close with the Crew Band playing hits such as Ring of Fire and the audience joining in on the chorus! It was a great event and I have to thank everyone who attended and helped out with the event.


The Crew Band

The art is still up in the Crew Building so feel free to swing by and see what the environment means to us!



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