Annual Report 2000: Introduction to The Department of Geography
The current rapid growth of the Department has continued over the past year. To put this in context, since the mid 1990s, the number of teaching staff and research fellows has grown from 30 to 45, and there has been a 25% increase in accommodation. To add to this, we have just heard that we have been awarded a £2.4m grant from the Science Research Infrastructure Fund (SRIF) which will facilitate another major expansion of accommodation in the Sir William Hardy Building. In a similar vein, the volume of research has also burgeoned. In the last five years, approaching a thousand publications written by staff, research fellows and graduate students have appeared as authored books, in journals, edited books and conference proceedings, double that of the first half of the nineties. Our research grant income has also doubled over the same period to over £6.5m.
Since the 1999 Report, there have been several staff changes. On the debit side, we were all saddened by the death of Dr J.M. Grove on 17 January 2001. Jean was part of the Cambridge Department for over 50 years. She combined major work on glaciers and climate change in her The Little Ice Age (1988), with the demands of raising six children. Our sympathies are extended to Jean's family and especially to her husband, Dick, who was a University Lecturer here for a generation. A memorial service was held at Girton College in April 2001.
Other moves include Dr C. Tzedakis of the Department's Quaternary Science group who joined Professor Stuart Lane at Leeds, and Dr S. Corbridge who accepted a Professorship at the London School of Economics.
On the credit side, five new members of staff took up their posts during 2000. Dr James Brasington (University of Bristol) was appointed to a University Assistant Lectureship. James is a hydrologist whose work with engineering photogrammetrists has fostered new hydrological applications of digital and analytical photogrammetry, of high speed digital video imagery, and of terrain modelling linked to fluid dynamics models. Dr Michael Bravo (University of Manchester) was appointed to a University Lectureship in the Department with duties in the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI). This is the second shared post (the other is Dr Arnold) between Geography and SPRI, and it reflects the growing links for teaching and research between the two institutions. In addition to his research on aspects of the cultural geography and the environment of the Canadian Arctic, Michael works on the history and philosophy of science. Robert Haining (University of Sheffield) has been appointed to our new Professorship of Human Geography. Bob's substantive interests are in economic geography, urban geography and geographical information systems. He is currently working on issues of health service delivery and urban criminology. The former includes a major NHS-funded project on the targeting and take-up of health visitor services, and collaboration with Trent Regional Health Authority into links between air pollution and hospital admissions for respiratory conditions. His work in criminology brings a new dimension to the Department's research. Here, Bob has worked for the Home Office, modelling the location of areas in English cities with high levels of violent crime, and he is starting a project on youth offending under a Home Office R&D initiative. Dr Daniel Low-Beer (Senior Consultant at Roland Berger & Partners, Deutsche Bank) was appointed to a University Assistant Lectureship. Dan works on the geography of human health. He is involved especially in World Health Organisation and USAIDS projects on the demographic impact of HIV in southern Africa. Dr Iris Möller (Fitzwilliam College) has a Newton Trust College Lectureship based in the Department. Iris works in the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit on salt marsh evolution and coastal dynamics.
Our administrative leadership has been extended. Ms Bryony Amesbury has become part-time administrator of the Faculty of Earth Science and Geography's Environmental Systems Science Centre, while Ms Louise Feeney has become the administrator for the Department and SPRI.
The intellectual base of the Department has also been greatly enriched over the last year or so by its great success in post-doctoral research fellowship competitions. Dan Brockington has been a British Academy post-doc Research Fellow since 1998, working on aspects of agriculture, pastoralism and wildlife conservation in sub-Saharan African drylands. He is joined by 6 Cambridge Junior Research Fellows -- Dr H. Bulkeley (climate change policy), Dr L. Cameron (the social and cultural framework of the early British conservation movement), D. Lambert (slavery in colonial Barbados), Dr S. Luque (volcanology), Dr B. Parry (impact of commercialisation of genetic materials and intellectual property rights law), and Dr O Toutoubalina (heavy metal pollution in the Russian Arctic).
In a similar vein, it is a pleasure to record the continued success of staff in achieving personal promotions - Ron Martin to a personal Chair, Susan Owens to a Readership, and Tim-Bayliss-Smith, Tom Spencer and Steve Trudgill to Senior Lectureships.
A feature of the Department's work is its growing interdisciplinarity, and this is leading to a number of major initiatives. Following a General Board Review, the Department reabsorbed the University's Unit for Aerial Photography from October 2000; historically a sub-department of Geography, Aerial Photography had operated independently since the mid 1970s. The Unit has been revitalised as a specialist remote sensing facility and retitled Unit for Landscape Modelling. It now forms a key component of the Faculty of Earth Science and Geography's Environmental Systems Science Centre. At the time of writing, the new Professor of Physical Geography who will help to direct this Centre remains to be appointed. In human geography, we are delighted that the world-famous History of Population and Social Studies (CAMPOP), directed by Dr Richard Smith, will be joining us from October 2001. With the inclusion of CAMPOP, the Department has 6 FBAs, the highest concentration of any UK Geography Department. Links with SPRI continue to grow. The Department now provides key administrative and computing support while, as already noted, the joint appointment of Michael Bravo has also been made. These links have been further strengthened this year by the assignment of the University Lectureship held by Dr W.G. Rees (previously Assistant Director Research in SPRI) to the Department. Gareth is a remote sensing specialist working on heavy metal pollution problems in the Russian Arctic. He has taught in the Department's M.Phil in GIS and Remote Sensing for many years.
At the end of 2000, the Department successfully underwent a General Board Review of its teaching and research. It is clearly assessment season, for several of the previous months have been dominated by the preparation of the Department's 2001 Research Assessment Exercise return. The Department has been ranked in the highest category in all previous RAEs, and we hope that we will achieve this again. We are now awaiting news of the precise form which the Quality Assurance Agency's review of teaching in the Department will take in 2002 or 2003.
Head of Department