From education to employment

Graduate wins national award for soil erosion research

A geography graduate from the University of Plymouth has won a national award for her research into impacts of soil erosion. 

Jessica Kitch completed her dissertation, which involved using sediment fingerprinting to assess soil properties, last year and graduated with a first class honours from the BSc (Hons) Geography course.

She has now been awarded the 2019 Marjorie Sweeting Dissertation Prize from the British Society for Geomorphology (BSG), with a formal presentation due to take place at the Society’s annual conference in September.

For the project, Jessica worked closely with world-leading scientists at the University as well as officials from the Environment Agency and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Groups.

She applied river basin diagnostic tools developed in a recent Horizon 2020 project, integrating isotopic techniques with Bayesian modelling for improved assessment and management of global sedimentation problems.

For the project, she had to carry out field work on the Merriott Stream Catchment in South Somerset, collecting samples and then analysing them in the lab.

She then used dedicated computer software to develop a picture of how erosion is occurring throughout the area and how that knowledge could be applied in a real-world situation.

Jessica, who is now working as a Research Technician on a project assessing the impacts of soil erosion in Chile, said:

“It is a great honour to receive this award as I know the quality of the other entrants was very high. But I worked extremely hard on my project and had to overcome a number of challenges in order to make it a success. It allowed me to work on both physical and human geography, giving me a more holistic approach and a better understanding of links between society and the environment. Since graduating, I have continued to use the skills and experience I learned through the project and am now applying them to my new research in Chile.”

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