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Why join a Research Group committee?

Joining a Research Group or Research Group committee can be a wonderful way to meet and network with colleagues working in your area of the discipline, to share ideas and to feel connected.

Joining a Research Group or Research Group committee can be a wonderful way to meet and network with colleagues working in your area of the discipline, to share ideas and to feel connected.

Here we share comments by current Research Group committee members about what they have gained from the experience.

If you are involved with a Research Group and would like to add your comments, please email these to


Johanna Waters

In the video below, Johanna Waters talks about her experiences as Secretary of the Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group.


Matthew A. Richmond

"I first got involved with the Latin American Geographies network informally, as a way of connecting with other geographers working across the region. When the group officially affiliated to the Society in April 2020, becoming the Latin American Geographies Working Group (LAGWG), I volunteered to become Secretary. It was the first time I had taken on a role of this kind and it was exciting to be involved in building LAGWG from the ground up.

We have an enthusiastic and dedicated committee, most of whom are early career researchers, and an engaged wider research community. While it is still early days for LAGWG, we have already made great strides, holding well attended public events and AGMs, hosting a popular blog, and conducting diverse research group activities, from a dissertation prize to the LAGWG Away Day.

On a personal level, it is great to work in a hub of diverse scholars and activists with shared interests, and keep up to date with the work people are doing. I have also developed different skills required of an RGS-IBG research group secretary, such as organisation, communication and planning and managing different kinds of activities."

Matthew A. Richmond, Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, LSE
Secretary, Latin American Geographies Working Group


Cordelia Freeman

"The RGS-IBG research groups have provided me with an important sense of community and solidarity beyond where I was studying or working. I’ve been on three research group committees, the first as a PGR rep when I was a PhD student and the others when I had an academic job, and all have been an invaluable way to meet others, to further my research interests, and to work towards ways to improve geography higher education for all.

Many of the research groups play a key role in making the discipline more equitable and the ones I have been part of have run mentoring schemes, lobbied for care costs to be covered by funders, funded fieldwork, and provided opportunities for PGRs and ECRs to share their research.

There are still considerable challenges though. For example, in the Latin American Geographies Working Group we have been finding ways to work trilingually - across English, Spanish, and Portuguese - to disrupt the dominance of English in geography. Through the collaboration of senior and junior academics, research groups can be one space to improve working and learning conditions across the discipline."

Cordelia Freeman, Lecturer, University of Exeter
Conference Officer, Latin American Geographies Working Group


Maria Jesus Alfaro-Simmonds

"Being a member of a Research Group at the Society had allowed me to widen the scope of my network. Being in contact with a supportive and collaborative community of researchers with shared interests I have kept up-to-date with the latest research developments in the field. Through my participation, I have benefited from the overall discussions being shared and have found opportunities for collaboration with like-minded researchers.

Taking on a committee role has also helped me develop more confidence and build collaborative skills. Correspondingly it has also provided me with opportunities for building a valuable network of contacts that are now more familiar with me and my research.

Overall, being part of a research group committee had allowed me to get a first-hand knowledge of opportunities, concerns and what really matters, not only for progressing in the field but for professional wellbeing. It is a great experience, it encourages you to think outside of the box, to explore beyond the scope of your own research, and to put your ideas out with confidence."

Maria Jesus Alfaro-Simmonds, PhD student, University of Birmingham
Website Officer, Latin American Geographies Working Group
Membership Secretary, Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group


Catherine Walker

"I joined the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group committee as Secretary at the first research group AGM I attended – not a typical experience, but a sure sign of how welcoming the research group is! I have not regretted that decision over my committee term. I can confidently say that this is one of the main things – possible THE thing - that has helped me to feel embedded in the sub-discipline. As secretary, I have been able to interact with all committee members at different stages, which has always been positive. I have gained considerable experience of organising events, and knowledge about the wider work of Society through attending sub-committee meetings. The experience and knowledge I have gained are of course great for CV-building, but more than that it is the personal relationships and networks that I will value the most as I move into being a regular group member and no longer a committee member."

Catherine Walker
Secretary, Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group


Cheryl McGeachan

"Being part of the Historical Geographies Research Group has been an incredibly rich and rewarding part of my academic career. As the current Chair of the HGRG I get to work with the most amazing group of people and connect into different aspects of research within historical geography and beyond. Being part of a research group has given me a sense of community that is vital in our current climate and has inspired confidence in my own abilities. Connecting with others and finding spaces of learning and creativity is a key aspect of research group activities and I would thoroughly recommend anyone to become involved."

Cheryl McGeachan

Chair, Historical Geography Research Group