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School of Geography

Alice Noble

Understanding plant-soil feedback effects impacted by peatland fire

Funding: NERC Industrial CASE studentship with Natural England

Supervisors: Prof Joseph Holden, Dr Sheila Palmer

External supervisors: Dr David Glaves and Alistair Crowle (Natural England)

Why did you decide to study for a PhD, and why Leeds?
I knew I enjoyed research after completing dissertation projects for my BSc and MSc. I’m interested in plant ecology and had heard in the news about some of the research on peatlands from the Geography department at Leeds. When I saw a funded project on peatland plant ecology advertised I knew I had to apply. Working with Natural England, the project’s industrial partner, was also a big draw. It was important to me to live somewhere where I could enjoy leisure time too, and Leeds ticks a lot of boxes – there is a diverse range of attractions, bars and restaurants and a great music scene.

What is your experience of PhD study in the School and what skills have you learnt?
The School of Geography has a large and sociable community of PhD students and staff, which I enjoy being a part of. Our annual PGR conference, where we get together to hear about the research by PhD students, is a highlight. PhD students master many skills. There are a wealth of short courses available from the university as well as the opportunity to learn from colleagues. Since starting my PhD I have developed my skills in moss identification, writing for an academic audience, experimental design, statistics and GIS, to name a few!

What are your career aspirations?
Starting a PhD has affirmed my interest in both research and nature conservation, so I would love to continue my career either within academia or with an organisation like Natural England.

More generally, what would you say to someone else who may be considering studying a PhD in the School of Geography?
Go for it! The School of Geography is one of the most welcoming and supportive environments I have worked in. Find a project that you are passionate about and can take ownership of and you will reap the benefits.