Home    What's new    Search    Contact Us   Sign in / Register
· You are here: Home • Our work • Grants » • Student grants »
About us Our work What's on Geography today Press & Media News Join us
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG): the heart of geography
Alexander Awards Field Apprenticeships
Dudley Stamp Memorial Award
Frederick Soddy Award
Geographical Club Award
Geographical Fieldwork Grants
Henrietta Hutton Research Grant
Hong Kong Research Grant
Monica Cole Research Grant
RGS-IBG Postgraduate Research Award
Slawson Awards

Monica Cole Research Grant

The Monica Cole Research Grant offers £1,000 each year to a physical geography undergraduate or postgraduate student undertaking original fieldwork overseas.

The Grant is given in memory of Professor Monica Cole, an eminent physical geography researcher. 


18 January (each year)


Monica Cole Research Grant recipients

2017: Cathy Smith (University of Edinburgh)

'Wildfire in the Savannahs of Southern Belize: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives'

Belizean pine savannahs evolved with recurrent anthropogenic fire, yet the current, near-annual, frequency of fires supresses pine regeneration. Using archival materials and charcoal sediment cores, this project looks at the historical role that fire has played in the Deep River Forest Reserve. Working with local organisations and communities whose livelihoods involve fire use, the project’s findings will be used to inform ecological management and a more sustainable level of fire use.

2016: Jake Simpson (King's College London)

'Quantifying biomass burning emissions factors within the Berbak landscape, Indonesia'

Wildfires on Indonesian peatlands spread uncontrollably, destroy threatened habitats and emit toxic trans-boundary pollutants as well as globally-significant quantities of greenhouse gases (GHG). Emissions factors (EF) parameterise the quantity of a gas species emitted per unit mass of fuel burned. However, current IPCC-approved EF for tropical peatland fires are based on peat burned in a laboratory. This, alongside depth of burn uncertainty adds to the overall uncertainty in GHG emissions estimates. A high-impact field campaign will be undertaken to measure EF in-situ using an open-path Fourier transform infrared methodology.

2015: Jayne Kamintzis (Aberystwyth University)

'Spatial variations in supraglacial runoff and their impact on glacial velocity at the beginning of the ablation season, Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland'

This research aims to explore spatial variations of supraglacial streams at Haut Glacier d’Arolla, Switzerland, with daily hydrological measurements establishing the impact of runoff fluctuations on stream evolution and ice velocity over short timescales at the beginning of the ablation season.

2014: Jonathan David Hassall (University of Southampton)

'Reconstructing Holocene palaeoclimate and tropical cyclone activity in the South Pacific from terrestrial sediment archives'

By collecting climate proxies stored within lake sediments in Samoa, this project seeks to reconstruct the magnitude and rate of past climatic changes across the South Pacific Convergence Zone. The data collected will be used to aid understanding of global energy fluxes, inter-hemisphere climate links and cyclone activity.

2013: Ana Prohaska (University of Oxford)

'Ecological Responses of the Lowland Rainforests of Southeast Asia to Past Climatic Changes: New Lessons for Conservation'

Traditionally, conservation response has been hindered by poor understanding of the biological consequences of large changes in temperature and precipitation. To address this important knowledge gap, this project pioneered the investigation of the vegetation response of Southeast Asian lowland rainforests to past rainfall shifts, and applied findings toward advancing modeling predictions of rainforest dynamics under future climate scenarios.

2012: Christopher John Thorpe-Dixon (University of Plymouth)

'Conservation along the Indian Western Ghats'

The project aimed to meet the needs defined by the Indian Government in its Fourth National Report to the Conservation of Biodiversity and of its working party the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) to establish baseline data for the designation of areas for protection.

2011: Rocio Beatriz Urrutia (University of Oxford)

'Carbon productivity in millennial Fitzroya cupressoides (Molina) Johnston forests in Southern Chile, its climatic controls and projections under climate change scenarios'

The project was undertaken in the temperate rainforests of Southern South America assessing  the endangered species of Fitzroya cupressoides, specifically observing the unique species` productivity, as well as evaluating the main climatic and environmental factors driving its production.

2010: Sarah-Jane Phelan (University of Exeter)

'Quantification of the impact of climate change on landscape evolution as mediated by plant community dynamics' 

This project quantified the impact of climate change on the physical landscape as mediated by interactions between vegetation cover and catchment erosion rates. 

2009: Dorothy Sanders (Durham University)

'Kosovo’s poisoned generation? : Peri-urban agriculture as a pathway for the human uptake of heavy metal pollution from the Zvečan smelter, Trepca Mine Complex, Kosovo'

Exposure to heavy metal pollutants from smelting processes represents one of the most dangerous environmental health hazards globally, resulting in a large number of deaths and disabilities. The project conducted a systematic investigation of heavy metal pollutants in peri-urban agriculture, addressing knowledge gaps surrounding the degree, sources and dispersal pathways of pollution, and the nature of subsequent human exposure through ingestion of crops.

2008: Kate Armstrong (University of Edinburgh)

'Testing Wallace's Line as a biogeographical barrier for the pantropical tree manilkara (Sapotaceae)' 

Manilkara is a genus in the Sapotaceae consisting of c. 81 species distributed throughout the tropics (30 South and Central American, 37 African and 14 SE Asian and Polynesian). Its distribution in Asia stretches from India to Samoa. The Indonesian species of Manilkara are central to understanding the group’s speciation and biogeographical history in the region. The project investigated the effect of Wallace’s Line as a biogeographical barrier for Manilkara and its implications for biodiversity and geography in SE Asia.

2007: Natasha Barlow (Durham University)

'Isostasy, eustasy and tectonics in Southern Alaska'

The project sort to unravel the complex history of relative sea level fluctuation in Southern Alaska during the last 1000 years, particularly researching the special variations of crustal response to glacier loading. 

2004: Dominique Chaput (University of Oxford)

'Dynamics of microbiological weathering communities in a high Arctic ecosystem' 

This project addressed the knowledge gaps surrounding the dynamics of biological weathering communities in cold environments.  It investigated the responses of such communities to changes in physical parameters, focusing on shifts in community composition (and thus in weathering type and severity) that may accompany climate warming.

2001: Helen Bray (University of Oxford)

'Late quaternary palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the Arabian peninsula' 

This study established a precise chronology and explanation for Late Quaternary dune mobility and humid phase deposits of the Arabian Peninsula. Most explanations for changing dune systems cite altering wind conditions as a major factor, placing less emphasis on parameters such as sediment supply and age, in determining dune field structure.  This research investigated uncertainties regarding the factors of importance in the formation of dune systems.

1998: Anne-Marie Nuttall (University of Bristol)

'Assessing the impact of superimposed ice formation on the glacier mass balance of north west Svalbard'

On many glaciers in the Arctic, superimposed ice (SI) forms at the base of the snow-pack during winter and spring by refreezing of meltwater.  It is believed to form a significant proportion of the mass balance budget for Svalbard glaciers.  Traditional methods of measuring mass balance do not take into account this accumulation of SI.  This project sought to further understanding of SI formation and its significance for mass balance measurements on Spitsbergen through the combination of a field and laboratory study and numerical modelling.

1995: Sarah Selby (University of Edinburgh)

'Groundwater salinity and its relationship with plant composition and distribution on a wetland/savannah transition in the Rio Bravo Conservation Area, north west Belize'

Research attempted to ascertain the importance of soil and water salinity in contributing to plant composition and distribution in wetland and savannah areas within the Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area in North West Belize.  The results led to a proposal for long term monitoring in the area which contributed to conservation management plans. 

For further information on the projects listed above, including a summary of the research and expedition reports, please browse the Society's Expeditions Database.

About the Award

Born in 1922, Monica Cole was a leader in the field of geo-botany. Her career spanned continents and decades. She held the position of Chair of Geography at Bedford College for many years. Shortly after her retirement in 1975, she received the RGS-IBG Murchison Medal for major contributions to the geography of South Africa and to the understanding of savannas.

The Monica Cole Research Grant is given annually in her memory, to a physical geographer undertaking original fieldwork overseas.

RGS-IBG links
Research and Higher Education

Fieldwork and expeditions training and advice

Send email to
Grants Office

· Accessibility statement
· Terms and Conditions, and Cookie use
· Contact Webmaster
· Download Adobe Reader
· RGS-IBG is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Bookmark and Share