Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

National recognition for Geography and Environment students

Published: 14 November 2014

Two Geography and Environment masters students have been nationally recognised for their research being shortlisted for the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) Awards for Geospatial Excellence.

The prestigious awards recognise excellence within the geospatial industry and singled out Southampton students Andy MacLachlan and Jenny Willbourn for the high quality of their MSc research. Andy and Jenny were shortlisted to the final three in their respective categories Excellence in Research and Development and Student of the Year.

The pair attended a special ceremony at Kenilworth, in Warwickshire, where the winners of each category were announced. Although Jenny and Andy did not win their categories they were awarded with runner-up certificates.

Andy and Jenny at the ceremony

The AGI Awards for Geospatial Excellence are a new set of awards and were launched this year to mark the 25th anniversary of the AGI. They aim to foster a spirit of innovation to the betterment of geographic information in the UK.

Andy’s research focused on assessing earthquake vulnerabilities in Kathmandu, Nepal. His project explored optimal immediate aid sites for the distribution of aid materials in a post-event scenario, considering building structural characteristics based on the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) taxonomy.

He said: “Being shortlisted for an AGI award has highlighted the importance of this research. Kathmandu presents a multifaceted predicament in regards to earthquake susceptibility and has been described as vulnerable as Haiti. Collaboration with the GEM model, ImageCat Ltd, and the Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology facilitated project success in the emerging discipline of pre-event vulnerability assessments.”

Jenny’s research used satellite remote sensing techniques to investigate the water productivity of tea in regions of India and Malawi. Her research explored the amount of water utilised per kilogram of tea leaves harvested. The project aimed to assess to what extent it is possible to build a water productivity model for tea, where tea leaves are grown with the least water consumption and how sensitive tea’s water productivity is to future temperature changes.

She said: “Being shortlisted is a great recognition of my hard work but it is also great for the tea industry which is understudied at academic level. This project has helped highlight that like many other important crops, tea production will face increasing problems due to anthropogenic climate change in the future and that one way to help mitigate the effects is to increase academic and commercial interest in precision agriculture. Being shortlisted was a great way to end my MSc and start my commercial career at Atkins.”

Both Andy and Jenny were supervised by Dr Ellie Biggs, a Lecturer in Geographic Information Systems and Environmental Applications at the University of Southampton. She said: “It is an honour for Andy and Jenny to be shortlisted for such prestigious awards. These nominations reflect their hard work and commitment to research within the geospatial sector. Both of their research projects were exemplary, indicative of outstanding quality, rigour and innovation for projects at MSc level. I am extremely proud of their accomplishments. It is excellent that such innovation of applied geospatial research has been duly recognised by the AGI. I have no doubt that Andy and Jenny have very successful careers ahead of them, using their skills and spatial data to assist in resolving key global geographical research challenges."

Andy is currently pursuing his PhD at Southampton under the supervision of Ellie and Dr Gareth Roberts, and Jenny is working for one of the world’s leading design, engineering and project management consultancies Atkins as a Graduate GIS Consultant.

Andy's project work
Iain Stewart
Jenny and Andy with Paul Longley
Andy and Jenny with Iain Stewart
Jenny, Andy and Vanessa Lawrence
Privacy Settings