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RGS-IBG Postgraduate Research Awards

2010 Postgraduate Research Award recipient Anna Muir collecting amphibian data in order to predict impacts of climate change on distributions, genomic composition and adaptationThe Society offers six awards of £2,000 annually for PhD students undertaking fieldwork/data collection. These awards, offered to individuals, aim to help students establish themselves in their particular field.

Awards are offered in each of the following areas: physical environment; conservation and sustainability; society and economy.


23 November (each year)


  Postgraduate Research Award guidelines (PDF) 
  Research Ethics and Code of Practice (PDF)


2013 RGS-IBG Postgraduate Research Award recipients

Physical environment

  Martin Brader (Durham University).'Lateglacial to Holocene relative sea-level changes and the deglaciation of northwest Iceland'

Until recently, relatively little scientific investigation had been undertaken to determine patterns of relative sea-level (RSL) change in northwest Iceland. RSL investigation can inform the current debates surrounding the two hypotheses of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) glaciation of Iceland. These generate ice volume estimates which differ by an order of magnitude. This research will employ isolation basin and marine limit data to determine patterns of ice loading through glacio-isostatic adjustment (GIA) modelling. Determining the glacial history of Iceland is important due to the potential impact of deglacial meltwater from the Icelandic ice sheet on the global thermohaline circulation.

  Zia Mehrabi (University of Oxford). 'Agricultural Development and Land Use Change in the Democratic Republic of Congo: The Search for Sustainable Solutions'

Feeding nine billion people, whilst simultaneously limiting the environmental damages committed by agriculture, has been argued to be one of the most difficult challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century. Africa is home to the largest remaining tracts of undeveloped land on the planet that could be used for food production. This project will address two research needs by firstly collecting data to develop tools to assess the relationships between ecosystem services and drivers of land use change in agriculture; and secondly by conducting experiments to assess the value of increasing plant diversity on farms for ecosystem service provision and food security.

Conservation and sustainability

  Anthony Turner (University of Kent). 'Do the sounds of the rainforest respond to disturbance? Applying soundscape ecology methods to monitoring human-modified tropical landscapes'

Unsustainable forestry and agriculture are major threats to tropical biodiversity. Over the next 50 years, agricultural land-cover in the tropics is expected to increase dramatically. Certification schemes offer opportunities to minimise impacts on biodiversity. These schemes require land-owners to encourage and maintain biodiversity within their estates, which calls for an efficient monitoring system to be in place. Recent studies demonstrate the potential for using soundscape data as a surrogate for measuring biodiversity. The project will test the suitability of these methods as part of a monitoring programme in a forest-oil palm landscape on Borneo.

  Tom Matthews (University of Oxford). 'Variations in species’ responses to habitat fragmentation and deforestation across the range: an analysis of individual European bird species in fragmented landscapes'

The project seeks to analyse variations in avifaunal responses to forest fragmentation, specifically through ascertaining how various bird species respond to habitat fragmentation at different points within their range (from range core to range periphery), in terms of area sensitivity. A group of target bird species (n≈20) with overlapping ranges will be sampled in four sets of forest fragment across Europe. Two fragmented landscapes representing the range core (North France & South UK) and two representing the range margin (South Iberia & Scandinavia), of target species, are to be sampled. The results will provide important information regarding how birds respond to habitat fragmentation and deforestation at different points across their range.

Society and economy

  Guy Chun-kai Leung (University of Manchester). 'Fuelling the Dragon: A Geographical Political Geography of the Natural Gas Industry in China'

China is the world's largest consumer of energy with coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, providing about 70% of the country's surging energy needs. As a result, China has become the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. However, China has engaged in the de-carbonization of the structure of energy consumption, by replacing coal with natural gas and renewable energies. This research seeks to understand - conceptually and empirically - the changing organisation and spatial form of natural gas production networks in China.

  Halliki Voolma (University of Cambridge). 'The Private is International: Domestic Violence Against Immigrant Women in the UK and Sweden'

The project will explore how the UK and Sweden negotiate EU and international obligations in relation to domestic violence against immigrant women and the extent to which legislative and policy frameworks address cross-cutting inequalities. The empirical component will involve interviewing national, EU and international stakeholders, and investigating women's experiences on the ground by interviewing volunteer immigrant survivors of domestic violence, facilitated by professional support agencies.

Postgraduate Research Award recipients 2008 to 2012 (PDF)

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


About the Award

The RGS-IBG Postgraduate Research Awards were established in 2008, to support PhD students undertaking research and fieldwork. From 2008-2013 these were supported by a private donor. 

From 2014, the RGS-IBG Postgraduate Research Awards annually will include two Albert Reckitt Awards. These are to be supported in perpetuity with residual funds of The Albert Reckitt Charitable Trust.

The Albert Reckitt Charitable Trust was established in 1946 with the purpose of making grants to a wide variety of registered charities, including non-political charities connected with the Society of Friends.   

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