Gabriel Streich (second left) at QMUL Geography graduation 2015
Hi – my name is Gabriel Streich and I’ve just finished my masters in environmental science at QMUL Geography!
It’s been a packed semester but I just wanted to update about an annual lecture we attended here at QMUL by the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators – one of the supporters of our masters programme: Integrated Management of Freshwater Environments.
“The annual Water Conservators Lecture, this year hosted in the impressive surroundings of Queen Mary’s Octagon, was a fascinating opportunity to hear some big names in the water industry giving their take on the issues and innovations that will affect future water use in the City of London.
“Martin Baggs, CEO of Thames Water, gave a very engaging talk on the scale of Thames Water’s supply challenge and some of the measures they are taking to tighten up on efficiency. Talks from Mark Lane, Chairman of British Water, and a representative of the host organisation, Ricardo-AEA gave insightful lectures on the pressures facing water in the City, and also on the innovations that could address these pressures, from technical solutions, such as real-time sewer controls, through to wholesale changes in economic models, e.g. from linear to circular economies. As a representative of the water industry as a whole, Sarah Mukerhjee, Director of Environment at Water UK, provided the context within which the other talks fell.
“This was a free event and it provided a breadth of information that is really relevant to those of us with an interest in water within London and more generally within cities. The opportunity to network with key figures in the water industry was also a bonus that any student would be glad of.”
I also visited the Tagliamento River in north east Italy as part of my degree, so you can see more pics from that on Flickr. Enjoy!
Second year students had the opportunity to return to the legendary Cairngorms fieldtrip this year to help first years explore this unique and wonderful National Park. From searching for the geocaches left by last year’s trip to checking out the finest Scottish food and drink…they’ve kept a diary of her experience to help you catch a glimpse of this world away from the city and the research opportunities it brings.
Ebony Acheampong, BSc Environmental Science with Business Management
Kana Alam, BSc Environmental Science
James Jarrett, BSc Geography
Friday 3rd April:
After a long journey to Aviemore, Scotland yesterday, today was spent supervising the first years exploring Glenmore Lodge and the surroundings of Aviemore.
We also tested out the geocaching method that had been successfully carried out last year. The first years found one of the geocaches and proved positive as the first years enjoyed the treasure hunt.
Prof David Horne also demonstrated coring in peatlands out in the Cairngorms National Park, this allowed the students to practise looking at soil profiles from the last Ice Age and that have accumulated over large periods of time.
Overall the day was well spent observing and recognising the components that formed such a beautiful surrounding such as the Loch Morlich, Green Lochan (little Loch), Cairngorms Park and mountains in the distance.
The evening ended with a review of the 1st year students fieldnote books and then relaxing at the bar area playing poker with tea and cake.
Saturday 4th April:
Today started with mapping of all the previous geocaching sites and locations. We were preparing ahead for the 1st year students to carry out the exercise in a few days. The walk along the bike trail today was challenging but we all managed to complete it, the beautiful views and landscape also played a part in motivation along with getting back to the lodge in time for tea and cake, which is always helpful of course.
One group of 1st years went up to the Coire an t-Sneachda whilst the second group went to Glen Feshie for a mapping exercise of the river landforms and sediments. This day I spent with Kana and James planning out the walk for the geocaching. This was a brilliant way in exploring the area up to an outdoor centre called Badaguish, which looked like such a relaxed eco village centre.
The geocaches we found in the first location and second were bird boxes with the clue ‘‘Feathery friends’’ which was set up by students from the previous year.
We then interviewed some students that went up to the Coire on the first day; these are a few of their experiences.
“It was really awesome as I felt like I was in the Arctic, since I’ve never done this sort of thing before being from the city,’’ Yasin Wadud.
“It was a unique experience, as it was a complete white out of fog then as it cleared up it was really beautiful,’’ Matthew MacMillan.
Sunday 5th April:
This day me, Kana and James went on the walk up to Coire an t-Sneachda with the group who carried out the mapping exercise. This brought back so many memories from the last year we visited; the walk took about 3 hours to the Coire including a stop to the ski centre and 2 hours back.
At the halfway point there was a buzz with people from different locations enjoying the facilities in the Cairngorms Mountains and ski centre.
The walk continued afterwards to the top point for another break and drawing of the landforms present.
The second group carried out a walk to Allt Mor which was lead by two members of staff from the School of Geography. The aim of this study was to carry out hydrological analysis in the river catchment.
Monday 6th April:
We took the first group to carry out the geocaching exercise we planned out in the previous few days.
The geocaching exercise was put together with a practice Environmental Impacts Assessment (EIA). This was done in proposal for bike trails across Glenmore Forest. The two activities linked well as each geocache location had positive and negative aspects to a future bike trial. The students thought and discussed well into the effects on the nature and habitats, so overall the day was a success.
Tuesday 7th April:
The second group of first year students were taken for the geocaching exercise, this was a success as the teams found all the boxes and signed the notepads available inside. Two geocache boxes found were set up by the second years who assisted my year so it was very nice to see it all in place.
The food provided at Glenmore Lodge is also really good quality and selection, really reminded us all of home cooked meals we have missed being away from home. This was always looked forward to after a long day of fieldwork.
Wednesday 8th April:
Today we assisted the first year students in Alt Mor soil and water samples collections, for chemistry analysis of pH and minerals present. In addition to this we helped with ideas to further development of the fieldwork diversity policy for the school of geography. We came up with some good ideas to create a more interactive and realistic alternatives to exercises carried out.
Today after the fieldwork we spoke to some of the staff to learn about their experience working in Glenmore lodge. We spoke most with the Chef called Mike who had travelled a lot and finally settled in Aviemore with his wife and family. He gave us great advice that words of wisdom and how much he enjoyed being in Aviemore. We definitely think he is the happiest person that we’d had ever met; there was a joy about him that was radiant and almost alien to us.
Meeting people like Mike definitely is a perk to these trips and opportunities, which come by through being at university.
Thursday 9th April:
Today we arrived back in London after a long coach journey around 8pm; this was a faster journey than when we were setting off to Scotland. It was nice to arrive back into London at a good time, though it was equally sad to leave Scotland. Everyone was so friendly and this environment was so refreshing especially coming from London.
The trip overall was definitely worth going more than once and hopefully it will be possible for more students to experience Aviemore, Glenmore Lodge and the Cairngorms National Park.
Sustainability of the environment is not a subject that should be taken lightly. The relationship between man and his environment is rocketing towards a non-existence. We should want to preserve our environment as it is crucial for the existence of the earth, every living being and for future generations. By the time I have finished writing this post, I’m sure my propaganda will have swayed itself into your subconscious and you’ll wake up tomorrow morning wanting to become a tree-hugger.
The way the environmental science course is taught here at QMUL Geography relates immensely to what is occurring at this present time in the outside world. We are purposely taught to start reading scientific journals, articles etc, instead of out-dated text books. This was something that will get us in the habit of reading current event materials. The field trip to the mountains of Scotland I went on in my first year at Easter was the stuff of dreams – putting theory into practice has really helped consolidate my learning.
The following are pictures taken by myself from Scotland, in the Cairngorms field trip (first year) 2014.
Field sketching the view
Prof David Horne
Navigating with the forest commissioner
Climbed up Coire an sneachda
Given a lift by the forest commissioner in a mini-van
Up Coire an sneachda
Illustrating land forms in our journals
sampling soils and Vegetation cover
Water chemistry analysis
Drawing Coire land forms
Honestly speaking, this course wasn’t something I had always envisioned myself studying. It was something that came to me in my final year at college when I was in the process of applying to universities. I wasn’t lucky enough to be one of those people who always knew what they wanted to be. And there are thousands of people who don’t know just like myself, so it takes a bit of experimenting to discover what interests you. After my departure from Scotland and by the end of my first academic year I have truly felt even more excited and am 100% content with my course.
I would love to voice my thoughts to the many people who doubt our ability to resolve and restore order within our environment. It is natural habitats such as these with gorgeous scenery and therapeutic landscapes that bring us down to earth and makes us truly question the impact we have on our planet and inspires us to preserve it to the best of our ability.