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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

National recognition for Geography and Environment student research

Published: 11 September 2015

Two students have received national recognition for their research with student awards from the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society (RSPSoc).

Andy MacLachlan was awarded for his masters thesis and Robin Wilson was awarded for his doctoral thesis by RSPSoc, the UK's leading society for remote sensing and photogrammetry.

Andy's research focused on assessing earthquake vulnerabilities in Kathmandu, Nepal.  It  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.

Robin's PhD research developed a novel new method for monitoring air pollution from satellite images at a far higher level of detail than was previously possible – a measurement for every 30m compare to previous methods that provided measurements for every five to 10km.

The pair were presented with their cash awards and certificates at the Society’s annual conference in Southampton.

Andy said: “I feel honoured that my research has been selected for this award by such a prestigious society.

“Recognition from RSPSoc highlights my strong work ethic and potential for creating novel research with broad discipline applicability.”

Robin commented: “I am very pleased to receive this award. It shows that my PhD thesis was one of the best in the field, in the UK, this year – a high honour.

“I’ve already had a number of academics comment to me that the theses that win the RSPSoc prizes are of a different league to most PhD theses. This should really help me to develop my academic career.”

Andy has gone on to study a PhD in Geography at Southampton’s Global Environmental Change and Earth Observation research group, while Robin recently won an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Prize Fellowship to spend an extra year at Southampton extending his PhD research to make it truly operational by collaborating with health scientists and local authorities on applying it to monitor the health effects of air pollution.

Andy’s supervisor Dr Ellie Biggs, a Lecturer in Geographic Information Systems and Environmental Applications, said: “Andy thoroughly deserves this award which recognises the outstanding quality of his MSc dissertation research. His research project allowed him to engage with a highly pertinent topic, working alongside commercial imagery analysis specialists and produce outcomes which have a demonstrable impact on society.

“The award reflects Andy’s continued commitment to his research and advancements within the discipline of remote sensing. As a supervisor I am very proud of his progression as an independent researcher and I am honoured to now be supervising his PhD research.”

Professor Ted Milton, Emeritus Professor of Remote Sensing and Robin’s Lead Supervisor, added: “I was delighted to hear that Robin had been awarded the prize for the best PhD thesis. The initial idea for the topic was Robin's own, and he developed a research project that was challenging in both scope and methodology, and which has international significance in terms of potential new products.

“The approach he developed was highly creative and innovative, and our supervision meetings were always fascinating and intellectually stimulating exchanges, drawing upon the expertise of supervisors from several disciplines. The award recognises both the quality of Robin's work and the benefits to be gained from a multi-disciplinary research environment.”


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