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RGS-IBG award supports overseas fieldwork

28 September 2017

Geography BSc student Jessica Bracken was encouraged by her dissertation supervisor Dr Simon Carr earlier this year to apply for the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s new Alexander Awards: Field Apprenticeship. Up to three grants of £1,500 each are offered to students who wish to undertake fieldwork overseas as a field apprentice led by an academic staff member. Read a summary below by Jessica.


Geographer Jessica Bracken and Dr Simon Carr at the Aletsch Glacier in the Swiss Alps

I made an application to the Alexander Award this summer and after being interviewed I found out I was a lucky recipient – much to my surprise! Being amongst one of the first recipients of the new award has made my summer a fun learning experience.

Dr Carr and I visited the Arolla valley in Switzerland, and I got to see my very first glaciers up close; a textbook just does not compare! Dr Carr gave me the training to correctly identify and describe small-scale glacial erosional landforms in recently glaciated environments. Being a field apprentice gave me the confidence to undertake research crucial to my dissertation, which looks at ‘Small-scale glacial erosional landforms in present and past glacial environments’.


Jessica identifying and describing small-scale glacial erosional landforms © Simon Carr

I travelled to the Shetland Islands later in the summer with fellow geographer Callum Sykes, where I was able to use my new-found transferable skills to record much older glacial erosional landforms, which would then tell me whether the islands were covered by a local ice cap or a continental ice sheet during the last glacial cycle.

The award has been transformational for me, giving me confidence that I can succeed in my studies and I have learnt that I am capable of conducting fieldwork, and can have fun along the way. I encourage fellow students to look into the award and apply too!

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