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Student Conference 2014

Student Conference 2014

Research on where the best place in Sussex would be to reintroduce beavers; how planning can encourage physical activity; and how the way vineyards are managed can impact on the diversity of farmland birds; were among the papers presented at the first ever South Downs Student Conference in Midhurst on Wednesday 9 March 2014.

Eighteen students – from foundation level degrees, through masters and up to PhDs – presented their research on the theme of ‘Healthy Environment, Healthy Lives: Towards a 21st Century Park’ at the new South Downs Centre in Midhurst, West Sussex. Twelve students also took the opportunity to present posters on their subjects.

Professor Andrew Church, from the University of Brighton, gave a key note speech on ‘Contradictions and challenges in understanding health, well-being and environment relationships’.

Daniel Bianconi, of Plumpton College won the award for Best Oral Presentation and a £75 Amazon Voucher. His research was on ‘The effect of Prohexadione Calcium on the vigour of vines, onset of veraison, quality of fruit, and yield in Dornfelder grapevines’.

Prize Judge Tanya Rowan, who leads on research for the South Downs National Park Authority, said “Everyone was impressed with the depth of Daniel’s knowledge. As a foundation-level student he held his own against people presenting from their PhDs. He is clearly a research star of the future.”

The prize for best poster and a £50 Amazon Voucher went to Eleanor Rendells of the University of Southampton for her research on ‘What role do anthelmintics play in determining the composition of soil invertebrate communities on lowland heath?’

Joanne Carnell of the University of Brighton won membership to the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) for the best presentation on Landscape, Biodiversity & Conservation. Her research is looking at the value of urban gardens in helping to conserve pollinators.

Trevor Beattie, Chief Executive for the South Downs National Park Authority, said:

“It’s very encouraging to see the high standards of research being undertaken by our future and across so many disciplines.

“Innovative research and a solid evidence base are vital foundations of our work to care for the South Downs National Park. One common theme throughout the day was the current, and possible future, effects of climate change and when it comes to mitigating these we all have a role to play.”

A full conference programme for the day can be found below –


Conference Programme 2014



" The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness. "