Meeting students in person

Normally this would not be the most exciting of photos, but was the first time I had met two of my MSc Conservation and Ecosystem Management students although I had felt I had got to know them reasonably well. Was wonderful to see you in person, Taleb and Alex.
Here we are discussing the no-till and spelt plots at our University Farm, Nafferton

Also saw a lapwing diving, the skylarks ascending and singing and a hare dashing across the field. Nafferton must be doing something right!

A morning with IIT Delhi – international exchange

I’ve been so missing students being able to go overseas and getting international experience – so organised an exchange with Delhi…

… the environmental undergraduates in Delhi and Newcastle worked together in small, mixed groups to compare the problems and solutions of air, water and e-waste between the two cities. We were so impresed with the way the students worked together and produced potenial solutions in the short time given.

Thanks to and Kate Lavender and Lesley Jackson for all the hard work

Notes for MSc CEM starters 2021


Hi all, I’m going to use this to post information that might be useful to you if you have applied to study MSc Conservation and Ecosystem Management from Sept 2021. Please also feel free to contact me at

  1. Meg, who will be joining us has set up a FaceBook group that she asked me to share, so anyone starting the course, or even considering starting the course, in 2021 can meet prior to the start date, get to know each other and perhaps arrange accommodation together. Link is here:

Stage 1 Agriculture and Environmental and Social Science Cluster – Posters

Our stage 1 students have worked to answer a question on a topic of current interest linked to Sustainable Development Goals, having worked as a group, without meeting their group mates, and never having set foot in a lecture theatre or computer lab.

I am so proud of them. Each degree program produced at least one excellent poster – I have chosen from 4 of our degrees – Food Business, Marketing and Management narrowly missed my inclusion of their sugar reformulation poster

This first one from Countryside Management students is obviously on a topic close to my heart, though I had nothing to do with the learning or the choice of topic. I was not just impressed with how much relevantinformation they managed to cram into a small space, without really compormising on clarity. They cleverly chose the colour of Sphagnum austinii (almost) for their colour scheme and of course I liked the slightly daring pun in the title.
When I read the introduction to this poster from our Applied Plant Science students I groaned as I thought, this topic is far too big for a small poster, but then, as I started to read, I realised they had proved me wrong. A very nice poster summarising how plants could help meet some of the SDGs.
This was my favourite from the Agri-Business Management students because they convey so much information so clearly – and because it is brilliant to see our young farming community recognising the pressing need to alternatives to chemical pesticides.
I found it more difficult to choose between the Environmental Science Posters on impacts of Covid, and the nice one about solutions to the impact of wind turbines on birds and bats, but decided on this because of its clear layout and nice use of images . And I sort of like the bright colours – it is Christmas at the time of posting, after all. I think it would have been wrong to have not had a Covid poster…I just spotted the spelling mistake Shhhh!

Here’s how MSc in Conservation and Ecosystem Management can Change your Career

Ray helping Elizabeth with her dissertation data collection on Lampert

Ray just messaged to say he has his perfect job with Natural England playing with GIS (as a GIS Analyst, I mean) to hopefully enhance priority habitats in Northumberland, like Lampert SSSI above. He says he can’t believe that 2 years ago (he was part time) he knew little about conservation and ecosystem management apart from what he had gleaned from volunteering with the Wildlife Trust. And now he has clinched the job he wanted where he can hopefully make the difference, doing the things he is best at. He formerly a physics technician and also runs his family business

This might actually be Phil’s first experience of bird watching

Phil came out on an optional, for fun, weekend trip to Hauxley in February, where Elizabeth impressed us with her knowledge of birds. Phil know very few birds I believe, but got the bug and was out every weekend after that, Whatsapping us pics and eventually selling gear to buy new and better binoculars … he helped on the UG field trip – and I have just learned, just 2 years after that fateful day, he is working full time and permanent as a bird surveyor in an ecological consultancy.

… and Chris below has followed Laura’s example and managed to escape from teaching; he has landed a job with Natural England in Wildlife licensing, while Laura, who was with a a couple of years ago, will be next door to him in the Environment Agency

Ellie with the Crocodiles in Belize

Wonderful to hear from Ellie (former MSc BCEMstudent) in Belize as she starts her internship.

Here’s what she wrote “I moved to Belize to start as a Community Ecology intern with the Crocodile Research Coalition, based in placencia lagoon. I will be running bird and terrestrial surveys, joining in on education and outreach and doing my own research project. The skills I learnt from the masters, such as research methods and stats will really help me, as well as the confidence I gained moving to a new city and working with people from all around the world. Thank you Helen and Janet and Simon!!”

Feeling Nostalgic

Do you remember the olden days when we could go to the pub and get within 2m of each other? Just found this photo of these beautiful people – Environmental Science students, Phoebe, Gabi, Jackson and Kieron – miss you guys. Now working in Environment Agency, Environmental Consultancy, AEA …

Out with the old – In with the new

Janet and I are sad when the MSc students have received their results and are saying au revoir. Some of them converted to part time because of Covid, but here’s what some of those who stayed to the end had to say:

“As a mature student, returning to study after such a long time away felt like a huge leap into the unknown, but it has been a fantastic experience and transformative in many ways. So thank you!” – Ray

“You were helpful and compassionate – and not crap!” that was apparently a reference to previous experience, not being damned with faint praise. He qualified with “you were fantastic” – Anon please

“It has been a wonderful masters and I feel I have learned the skills and gained the knowledge in biodiversity conservation to a high standard, it has been so much fun and at last I am confident in statistical analysis thanks to you! The modules have been brilliant, your guidance in professionalism such as report writing and potential career paths has been fantastic. It’s been a fab year, I’ve loved it! – Theo

I found a celebratory jumping picture from the olden days when we were allowed out in the field

The Environmental and Earth Science Society

Jake ( was telling me today about this society our undergrads have set up. Looks like fun – if I were 35 years younger! I’m sure Jake would love to hear from you if you are joining us next year and would welcome your ideas

Brief Description of Society Activities
EVEA is an abbreviation of both environmental and earth sciences which we noticed didn’t have their own subject society.  This society aims to provide a link between all the years studying this subject and provide a way for us to socialise together.  We combined the subjects as we found we shared similar modules and therefore spend a lot of time together in lectures.  One main issue we noticed is that there is no link for first years to other years.  Once set up we aim to have a tutoring system in place for all academic years to enjoy.  There will also be the potential for a Ball at the end of the year.