Dr Richard Jeffries, Principal Geomorphologist
The Environment Agency
Degree: Geography, Southampton University
I got to be a principal scientist because I pursued a subject I really enjoyed, one that has fascinated me for my whole life. I now work at the Environment Agency in the national geomorphology team. I spend time visiting rivers, surveying their forms and features to understand what they are like now, and how they might be restored. Recently I have been reviewing geomorphology technical assessments for a hydro power project to check the environmental impact is okay. I also analyse LIDAR data in ArcGIS and run models to check the impact.
Be open to opportunity: choose geography because it matters in a globally-connected world. It matters now, and it will matter even more in the future when society will need your geographic skills to manage major environmental issues.
Degree: Geography & Geology, University of Leeds
I started off at Arcadis, a company that specialises in contaminated land. If you have some land that because of its use could be contaminated, such as a petrol station, chemical works, landfill etc, you need to make sure there’s no groundwater, contaminated soil, or that any gas has been emitted before you can sell it.
I then began working for the company I now work for – we deal with spills of oils, chemicals or any hazardous substances. We get all sorts of jobs, from domestic oil spills, train crashes, even helicopter crashes, such as the Leicestershire helicopter crash, where the aviation fuel had potentially got into the aquifer that they use for drinking water. Even now, at 15 years experience, I still get to go out twice a week, so I have a really nice balance of office work and fieldwork.
Zoe Collins, Sustainability Data Manager
Degree: Geography, Royal Holloway, London
My role is to make the company (a fresh produce supplier) more sustainable by ensuring environmental and human rights considerations are integral to how we do business. This involves making our ethical systems more robust and mapping how climate change will affect our supply chain in order to enhance food security and producer resiliency. I’m also researching plastic-free packaging alternatives, reducing our site’s carbon footprint, helping to develop our diversity and inclusion strategy and updating our pesticide approval lists based on changes in regulation and new research outputs.
Being a geographer makes me incredibly inquisitive and means that I interrogate the complexities of our global supply chain in order to identify social and environmental risks.