Students shine at South Downs research conference

July 10, 2015

The challenge of counting bumblebees, how to date river mud using the fallout from 20th century atomic bomb testing and the power of the British postal system at the turn of the 19th century – three hours for a letter to travel from Brighton to London.

These are just some of the things discussed at the South Downs student research conference on 7 July 2015.

The conference, in its second year, invites students from foundation level to PhD to share research from any discipline provided that it relates to the purposes and duty of the South Downs National Park. This year the University of Northampton, University of Portsmouth, Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, Institute of Historical Research, University of Southampton, University of Sussex and University of Brighton were all represented.

Tanya Rowan, who leads on research for the South Downs National Park Authority, said:
“It’s really inspiring to see geologists, ecologists, architects and historians all sharing their ideas and such a wide range of high quality work being carried out which will support the future of the South Downs.

“It’s great to see the student conference going from strength-to-strength. There is clearly a great deal of exciting research developing around the South Downs National Park, and we need this robust, well-founded, evidence if we are to prove the value of the National Park.”

The keynote speech was given by Prof. John Boardman of the Institute of Environmental Change at the University of Oxford. Prof. Boardman is currently working on the River Rother in the South Downs.

The prize for best poster presentation went to Avril Holworthy from the University of Brighton for an inspiring display on her study of painting outdoor landscapes as an occupation after bereavement. The prize for best oral presentation went to Vicky Davis from the Institute of Historical Research for her lively and informative talk on the cultural heritage of the Post Office.

The full list of students presenting was:

  • Jennine Evans, University of Northampton, SMART: Sediment and Mitigation Actions for the River Rother
  • Jennifer Cox, University of Portsmouth, Lessons for the future: Learning from river restoration in the National Park
  • Hara Anastasiou, Jake Arnfield, Waldemar Jansson, CASS School of Architecture, London Metropolitan University, Industrious Estates
  • Vicky Davis, Institute of Historical Research, The Postman’s Park: the South Downs and the cultural heritage of the Post Office
  • Kristen Whyle University of Southampton, Barn Owl Nestbox Occupation in relation to Habitat Quality in South Downs National Park
  • Daniel Bolt, University of Southampton, Effects of Structural Heterogeneity on Butterfly Response to Variable Weather Conditions in Woodland and Grassland Habitats
  • Thomas Wood, University of Sussex, Targeted Agri-Environment Schemes Significantly Increase the Size of Bumblebee Populations
  • Helen Sida, University of Sussex, An analysis of the restoration of chalk grassland at the Beddingham landfill site, with particular reference to the possible impact of Rhinanthus minor