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Sir Geoffrey Holland prize 2021

Undergraduate student Rachel Poppleton

Undergraduate student Rachel Poppleton wins Sir Geoffrey Holland Prize

Undergraduate student Rachel Poppleton has been awarded this year’s Sir Geoffrey Holland Prize.

The Award recognises final year students and celebrates academic excellence within a field related to Cornwall. Rachel completed her dissertation on landslide susceptibility in Cornwall, having identified a clear gap in the literature.

Using geographical information systems, and a wide range of geographical datasets, Rachel developed a technique to map landslide susceptibility in Cornwall. The technique successfully identified the Eden Project as an area of risk (which recently experienced three landslides) and discovered previously unidentified regions of landslide risk. The risk maps she produced have the potential to be very useful for land management in Cornwall, benefiting stakeholders, business owners and policy makers.

Dr Bob Brewin, Lecturer in Physical Geography, said:

“What was particularly remarkable was that Rachel had complete ownership of the idea, having identified a clear requirement for better landslide susceptibility mapping in Cornwall. She completed the work to a professional standard with very little technical guidance. Her thesis was outstanding for an undergraduate, and her work has the potential to significantly benefit Cornwall.”

Rachel said:

“Having seen first-hand the rate at which the north coast of Cornwall is retreating, with fairly regular rock falls, I was already interested in monitoring coastline retreat and predicting risk but when three landslides occurred at the Eden Project, an inland site, I was determined to learn which environmental factors have contributed most to past landslides and therefore predict areas at risk of future landslides.

“Given landslide occurrence is only going to increase with accelerating climate change, and Cornwall is heavily reliant on the coast and tourist attractions, such as the Eden Project, for financial income, I’m thrilled to have won the Sir Geoffrey Holland Memorial prize and hope my dissertation provided an useful insight into areas at risk of future landslides and may help stakeholders avoid future economic and personal losses.”

Date: 7 July 2021

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