UCL Earth Sciences


Departmental Newsletter Autumn 2021

Spotlights: Flipped classroom ideas; Meet Dr Phil Mannion, Lecturer in Palaeobiology; Reporting from COP26, Glasgow; Responding to a volcanic emergency on La Palma; Arctic rain more common than snowfall; Discover Earth Sciences live lecture series; The Climate Action Unit; Mineralogical Society Award: Congratulations to Prof Lidunka Vočadlo; A year in review reports from Women in Earth Science and the Greenough Student Society;
ES Newsletter 2021-Chrismas

Update from Prof Paul Upchurch, Head of Department

Despite the never-ending challenges of Covid, the Department has had a productive and successful 1st term. Our fieldwork is back!  I know that both staff and students enjoyed the opportunity to see real rock outcrops and fossils up close. We have offered a blended approach to learning, with much of our lecture material being provided online, but with practicals & labs being taught face to face.

Lava flows were one of the main volcanic hazards during this eruption.

Responding to a volcanic emergency on La Palma.

Contributing to the eruption monitoring efforts during an ongoing volcanic emergency is a fascinating yet deeply humbling experience. You have the unique opportunity to observe volcanic phenomena up close and yet you are acutely aware of how devasting these events are for the local communities, who will be rebuilding their lives for long after the eruption is over. 

Student Experience:  Flipped classroom ideas

Ekman and ocean currents: a spiralling journey by Estelle Janin

Inspired by digital technologies Dr M.Tsamados asks students to present a brief summary of the previous lecture with the digital tool of their choice like infographics or video.

Meet the Staff: Dr Phil Mannion

Dr Phil Mannion

The fossil record has a critical role to play in our understanding & forecasting of the ongoing biodiversity and climatic crisis, as we sleepwalk into a 6th mass extinction. 

PhD News: Reporting from COP26, Glasgow

Robbie Mallet at COP26, Glasgow

I was lucky to be chosen as a delegate by the UCL Environment Domain based on my recent research into sea ice thinning in the Arctic Ocean

Research: Arctic rain more common than snowfall

As the Arctic continues to warm in response to atmospheric greenhouse gases the precipitation will start to transition from snow to rain.

Research:  The Climate Action Unit

I know climate change is a big problem, but what can I do about it?!” That often heard question is exactly what a new team is seeking to address. 

Outreach: Discover Earth Sciences lecture series

 We aim to showcase how maths, chemistry, physics, geography and biology can all link to the many different facets of Earth science.

Events: The Women in Earth Sciences Group  

WiES logo

We aim to support the progression of women and gender minorities in Earth science, through a range of seminars, forums and events.

Awards: Neumann Medal 2022 

Prof Lidunka Vocadlo

Prof Lidunka Vočadlo has been awarded this premier medal of the Mineralogical Society for her scientific excellence and her significant and impactful publication history. 

Student Society: A year in Review

Greenough Society Fieldtrip

Although the pandemic is still roaring many aspects of life in the department & the Greenough Society have returned to something that resembles normality. The fieldtrips are back!


Update from Prof Paul Upchurch, Head of Department.

Despite the apparently never ending challenges of Covid, the Department has had a productive and successful few months since I last wrote. We were able to run field trips to Dorset and Cornwall in September, as well as a number of one day catch up trips to Bradgate Park in Leicestershire in November. I know that both staff and students enjoyed the opportunity to see real rock outcrops and fossils up close. We have offered a blended approach to Learning this term, with much of our lecture material being provided online, but with practicals etc being taught face to face. After an absence of nearly 1.5 years, I have also spent some time working in the department, and it has been great to have face-to-face meetings and experience those all too important spontaneous Conversations one has in corridors and hub spaces.

Clearly, with the astonishingly rapid rise of the Omicron variant, there is some uncertainty surrounding what teaching will look like next term, but we are determined to keep the department open for face-to-face educational opportunities and for Laboratory work, if at all possible. We’ve been through this before, and I am sure that our combination of dedicated and enthusiastic staff and our excellence set of online resources, mean we can adapt our research and teaching to meet anything that Covid continues to throw at us.

On a happier note, several members of staff have achieved grant success (Such as Prof. Julienne Stroeve’s recent award from the NERC for her project ‘DEFIANT: Drivers and Effects of Fluctuations in sea Ice in the Antarctic’). Dr. Nicolas Brantut has won a prestigious, and highly competitive, Philip Leverhulme Prize. I am also delighted to report that Prof. Lidunka Vocadlo has recently been awarded the Neumann Medal for Excellence in Mineralogy, 2022, by The Mineralogical Society. We have recently welcomed Dr. Katie McFall as our new lecturer in Earth Resources. Katie’s research examines the discovery and exploitation of the metal ores we will need for the green energy transition, and she also has a strong interest in minimising the environmental impacts of mining. Prof. Kevin Pickering and Dr. Steve Edwards will be leaving us at the end of December, and I thank them for all of their service to the department over many years. I am pleased to be able to say that we have received the go-ahead to strengthen our Environmental Geosciences offering and develop links with other departments, via 4.5 new lectureships.

I know that staff and students have had to work particularly hard this year because of the impact of Covid, and I wish them and any other readers of this newsletter, a Merry Christmas and a Happy (and above all, safe) New Year!

 Back to top



What's New:
Our Newsletters | The Department at a glance

The Department:
Study | Research | Impact | People

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram  | Youtube | LinkedIn