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People in the Department: Visiting Scholars

People in the Department: Visiting Scholars

The aim of a Visiting Scholar is to discuss and share ideas with another academic in our Department who works within the same, or closely related, field of interest. From this mutual collaboration may come ideas, joint publications and grant applications for future joint research projects. For stays of six months or more, we expect a short report (500 words), to be submitted by the host to the Director of Research within three months of the end of the visit, detailing the activities undertaken in Cambridge.

Our Visiting Scholars have a PhD degree, are carrying out research and looking to collaborate with academics in the Department of Geography at Cambridge while they are taking a sabbatical from their home institution. While a Visiting Scholar will have a prime point of contact - their 'host' - we hope that they will engage more widely with our research activities, through attending meetings of our Thematic Research Groups and through discussions with individual researchers in the Department. And we encourage links with researchers in other Faculties and Departments in Cambridge over the course of their stay.

The Department of Geography accepts Visiting Scholars from a wide range of backgrounds and research fields. They can be either supported by their institutions or self-funded.

We cannot provide Visiting Scholars with any help finding accommodation, setting up childcare facilities, or other personal welfare. Please note that the University of Cambridge does not provide childcare support to visitors. The University Accommodation service may be able to help with accommodation.

In order to be an academic visitor in the Department you need to be invited by a member of the Department academic staff.

Read about how to apply to be a Visiting Scholar.

Latest news for Visiting Scholars

Department Seminars

Newcomers and Visiting Scholars Society

Work Permits - If you are from a non-EU country, you need to check with your British Embassy regarding the necessity of a visa and/or work permit. The Home Office has recently changed its rules for visitors and has not yet provided a specific new channel through which a potential visitor may apply.

Current Visiting Scholars in the Department:

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Prof George Alter, collaborating with Dr Alice Reid and Dr Romola Davenport

Research: George Alter is Research Professor in the Institute for Social Research and Professor of History at the University of Michigan. His research integrates theory and methods from demography, economics, and family history with historical sources to understand demographic behaviors in the past. From 2007 to 2016 Alter was Director of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, the world’s largest archive of social science data. He has been active in international efforts to promote research transparency, data sharing, and secure access to confidential research data. During his visit to the University of Cambridge Alter will be working with colleagues at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population & Social Structure to re-analyze English family histories from 1580 to 1900. He is particularly interested in the adoption of family limitation, and he has been comparing recent transitions to lower fertility in Africa to fertility declines in Europe and East Asia.

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Dr Carrie Andrew, collaborating with Prof Ulf Büntgen


With a focus on fungal ecology related to global change, Carrie Andrew has, with collaborators, most recently been describing large-scale impacts of climatic and temporal change on fungal fruiting phenology across Europe. Data from numerous multi-source databases of herbaria, museum and citizen science records have been combined into a European 'meta-database' capable of exploring macroecological and biogeographic patterns, as well as distributional and community dynamics, in fungi from past to current time. Previously Carrie has researched impacts of elevated CO2 and O3 on ectomycorrhizal fungi, as well as abatement of nitrogen deposition on ectomycorrhizal fungal communities. Her background is in botany and mycology.

Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL Birmensdorf, Switzerland, employs Carrie the duration of her current postdoc, which follows a prior postdoc at the University of Oslo, Norway. Carrie is an active teacher, having four years previous experience adjunct instructing at two universities in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Currently, she teaches basic R skills through the Software and Data Carpentry initiatives.

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Mrs Julie Boreham, collaborating with Dr Steve Boreham

Research: Julie Boreham is a Geoarchaeologist with a special interest in British Prehistory and Native American palaeo-environments of the Southwest USA. Her current research, in collaboration with Dr Steve Boreham and other members of the Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Group, involves the development of new techniques and methodologies for the impregnation and thin sectioning of traditionally difficult and challenging soils and sediments using polymer-based resins.

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Dr Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist, collaborating with Prof Ulf Büntgen

Research: Dr Ljungqvist is a palaeoclimatologist and historian from Stockholm University, Sweden. His present research focus on various aspects of regional to global scale climate variability during the late Holocene, in particular the co-variability between temperature and hydroclimate at different spatial and temporal scales, hemispheric to regional-scale multiproxy climate reconstructions, and palaeomodel simulation–proxy data comparisons. Dr Ljungqvist is also researching the linkages between past climate extremes and socio-economic conditions, health, and human well-being during the last two millennia. He is author or co-author of more than 40 peer reviewed articles and author of three books, two about how climate changes have affected mankind throughout the course of history and of one about the Late Iron Age and Medieval Scandinavia.

Dr Somaiyeh Falahat, collaborating with Prof Matthew Gandy


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Dr Jie Li, collaborating with Prof Ash Amin

Research: Dr. Jie Li is an urban geographer with a special research interest in urban development and governance in China, and the interplay between urban living and mental health. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow at King’s College London. Her current research, in collaboration with Prof Ash Amin and other colleagues, involves using innovative methodologies to understand migration, urbanization and mental health challenges in China and develop a new type of contextual-specific mental health surveying instrument informed by sociological data.

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Dr Dengwei Liu, collaborating with Dr Mike Bithell

Research: Dengwei Liu is a physical geographer whose research is focused on water resources management, water carrying capacity and System Dynamics Modeling. His current research, in collaboration with Dr Mike Bithell, Professor Keith Richards and other colleagues, involves using SD Model to analyse the water-energy-food nexus in China.

Mrs Patricia Saunders, collaborating with Prof Keith Richards

Research: (Details to follow)

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Dr Mark Schuerch, collaborating with Prof Tom Spencer

Research: Mark Schuerch is a coastal geographer. His research focus lies on the physical impacts of accelerated sea-level rise on coastal wetlands. These wetlands are important ecosystems and habitats for many red-listed plants and animals. In particular, he concentrates on the physical processes of sediment accretion on salt marshes and on the related processes in the foreshore of the salt marshes. By means of field measurements and numerical modelling he unravels the interactions between salt marshes and the tidal basins adjacent to these marshes.

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Dr Philip Underwood, collaborating with Prof Tom Spencer and Dr Mike Bithell


Dr Underwood is an ecosystem modeller, specialising in describing the plasticity of natural systems. This is achieved through the use of individual-based models which resolve population- or system-level properties as an emergent function of many interacting individuals.
After a short career as a software engineer, Philip was inspired by James Lovelock's writing on Gaia theory to pursue postgraduate education. He has since completed an MSc in Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems at the University of Sussex, and a PhD in Theoretical Ecology at the University of East Anglia. He recently completed his first postdoc at British Antarctic Survey as part of the Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics (ICED) programme.
Philip is currently assigned to the UNEP-WCMC and works with the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU) in the Department of Geography. He is advancing the representation of fish and fisheries in the Madingley Model with a view to inform the future sustainability of marine living resources from conservation and food security perspectives.