Sphere (Winter 2017/18)

I am delighted to introduce this edition of the Sustainable Earth Institute’s (SEI) Sphere.

I am proud that the University of Plymouth’s SEI encapsulates and demonstrates the four key and highly interrelated ‘ingredients’ that will help to promote and build a sustainable future: 

  • world-leading science to ensure understanding of fundamental earth processes;
  • interdisciplinary working bringing natural, engineering, social, economic and behavioural sciences together to promote physical and societal resilience;
  • international collaboration and funding to ensure that not only the best scientists tackle the research questions but that local access and interpretation support policy-making; and
  • direct societal engagement to build understanding of the issues, and, importantly, to build ‘on-the-ground’ community resilience.

You will find examples of all four ingredients in the following pages. There is research to understand better earthquake and landslide mechanisms through collaboration with partners in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Morocco. A case-study of working with local pastoral farming communities in Tanzania to facilitate changes in land management practices where soil erosion has devastating consequences for livelihoods.

Our SEI team and partners have been working with filmmakers in Lofoten (Norway) to bring science in the field to the public. And finally some sobering thoughts on how to use social media to effectively communicate the devastation of drought to those who experience comfortable and safe lives.

These stories are just snapshots of SEI’s work at Plymouth. But they fully embrace the four ingredients. Importantly they showcase a culture of research working that is essential if effective mitigation and response is to be achieved to the environmental challenges the world faces.

Professor Judith Petts, CBE
Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Plymouth

The Science of Big Boulders

As outstanding features in the landscape, large boulders have long captured the imagination of humans

Anne Mather and her team have been at the forefront of understanding what big boulders can tell us about related geohazards

Read more about Anne's work

Healthy marine ecosystems

“Collaboration between scientists and policy makers is critical to ensure that scientific research supports binding decisions about the marine environment”  - Abigail McQuatters-Gollop

Read more about Abigail's work

Featured researcher: Camille Parmesan

Camille’s research focuses on the current impacts of climate change on wildlife, from field-based work on butterflies to synthetic analyses of global impacts on a broad range of species across terrestrial and marine biomes.

Professor Parmesan is the National Aquarium Chair in the Public Understanding of Oceans and Human Health at the University of Plymouth.

Find out more about her work