January 30, 2017

Communicating Science & Field Trips

Ross of Mull

Paul McLachlan

I understand the importance and enjoy communicating science through a range of physical and virtual formats. It is important to exchange knowledge to multiple audiences from those researching in similar areas to those that have limited interest in environmental science. I think it is important to engage people in the natural world and allow them to appreciate how natural and anthropogenic changes compete and interact with one another to impact our landscapes and environment. I am especially interested in how we can better engage those in the non-scientist but science interested category.

To create impact I have been attending conferences and presenting work to scientific communities (e.g. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, 2016) and more industrial communities (e.g. Institute of Applied Hydrologists September Meeting, 2016). I have also been building connections to share information and field work with the University of Glasgow, the University of Copenhagen and Rutgers University. I have also been developing skills of communication and education by demonstrating on lab based and field based courses and presenting information at more general conferences, for instance at the Scottish Arctic Club, AGM where we talked about fieldwork in Greenland (https://gardar2015.wordpress.com/). I particularly enjoy communicating science in the field and at Lancaster University I have been able to take part in field trips to Mull in Scotland and Kingsdale in the Yorkshire Dales. These trips have allowed me to expand on skills I gained doing similar work previously with an outdoor centre and a primary school in Edinburgh, and with student geological society in Edinburgh.

I particularly enjoyed the Lancaster University field trips as they allowed me to combine my interests of being outside with getting people excited about the natural world.

Ross of Mull Field Trip

The Ross of Mull is the southern section of the island and provides an ideal site for introducing geological mapping and general geological field work. This area is geologically interesting as it demonstrates the impressive age of the Earth. The vastness of time is well illustrated on the neighbouring island of Iona, where rocks of 2.8 billion years ago are overlain by rocks of 1.2 billion years ago, meaning that time gap between these two units is significantly longer than the formation of the younger unit and present day. This field trip involved 15 undergraduate environmental and earth science students and as a group they learned several important geological skills allowing them to interpret the landscapes and appreciate their history.

Kingsdale Field Trip

The Yorkshire Dales is predominantly made up of a colossal carbonate shelf from around 310 million years ago. However, its history extends well before this time and up until current day. On this field trip I led 10 first year students around in the field as we looked at how the geology, particularly the limestone, influenced the topography of the landscape. As well as the limestone, we looked for evidence of glaciers, glacial lakes and a large flood evidence of which is all preserved in the landscape. We also looked for evidence of human impact, for instance we looked at channel features within the landscape which can be attributed to cattle paths for taking cows to the market.