University of St Andrews

Sixth form students gain a taste of STEM research at the University of St Andrews

Monday 29 July 2013

Local sixth form students, Kirsty Black (High School of Dundee) and Stephen Young (Grove Academy, Dundee), have been gaining valuable research and work experience at the Department of Geography and Sustainable Development this summer.

The students have been working with Dr William Austin (Reader in Physical Geography) and Dr David McCarthy (Teaching & Research Fellow in Physical Geography) to develop an improved understanding of the use and role of biological proxies in environmental reconstructions.

Stephen’s placement (Nuffield Research Placement scheme) is funded by the Nuffield Foundation (see http://www.steminspire.co.uk for details), offering students an insight into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, which include Geography among the Natural Sciences. Stephen’s project has involved the study of Foraminifera from intertidal deposits, including local fieldwork on the Eden Estuary, Fife and a study of similar samples from Chile; Drs Austin and McCarthy will lead a follow-up research expedition to Chile with postgraduate and undergraduate students in Geography from the University of St Andrews in January 2014.

Kirsty has been assisting Dr Austin with the study of marine sediments samples collected in connection with the NERC-funded QICS research project and is studying the potential impacts of geological carbon storage on marine benthic ecosystems.

The photographs courtesy of David McCarthy show:

Top left - Stephen taking height measurements along a salt-marsh transect on the Eden Estuary, July 2013.

Top right - Stephen and Kirsty at the microscopes, Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews.

Lower -  Stephen and Dr Austin collecting surface sediment samples from the salt-marsh.

Photo collage