In this post we reflect on a walk near Lewknor from December 2022. Together, members of the ‘Dadima’s’ Community Walking Group and researchers from the Open University walked along parts of the ancient ridgeway as part of the NERC-funded Landscape Stories Project. (The Ridgeway is ‘Europe’s oldest continuously-used road. It runs from the World Heritage Site of Avebury to Ivinghoe Beacon and has been in use since the Stone Age. The Ridgeway is celebrating its 50th Anniversary as a National Trail in 2023 under the patronage of the anthropologist Mary-Ann Ochota.)
The Dadima’s walking group and OU team, hiking near Lewknor. Credit: Hardeep Singh.
Through ‘Landscape Stories’ environmental scientists from the Open University are engaging with a grassroot South-East Asian community walking group called ‘Dadima’s, Connecting Generations Walk and Talk’. Led by Dr Geeta Ludhra, Dadima’s is a Community Interest Company (CIC) based in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Together, we are co-designing walking routes that showcase aspects of the geological, landscape and ecological evolution of the Chiltern’s AONB. We are particular interested in exploring ways to connect environmental science, people and cultures through ‘storied walks’.
The Dadima’s walking group and OU team on the top of Ivinghoe Beacon. Credit: Kate Ashbrook.
Here we present the first of a series of reflective guides to our ‘storied walks’. This guide is for a circular walk of around seven miles from the National Trust Visitor Centre on the Ashridge Estate to Ivinghoe Beacon. (The latter is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its wildlife.)
Working with Nuffield Research Placement Scheme co-ordinators, Dr Pallavi Anand promoted the scheme across STEM to host nine ‘A’ level students during the summer of 2022. Students were placed in various academic schools in the STEM Faculty.
My placement was evaluating the application of data science and machine learning in different research areas (e.g. identifying transaction fraud in finance, or identifying patterns in lifestyle or medical records in patients with a specific disease or illness), and exploring it through Python.
During the summer holiday, I took part in a research placement with Dr Pallavi Anand in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at the Open University, organised by the Nuffield Foundation. The placement involved coding a MATLAB toolkit to a more accessible program such as Python that would use paleoclimate data to solve for past seawater temperature, oxygen isotope and salinity.
The project was to assist in a calibration of results obtained from deep-sea core sediment samples from two different sites around the Bay of Bengal.
The calibration is part of a wider project that my colleague, Emmeline Gray is working on for her PhD. This is looking at how the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) behaved during a past warm period (similar to predicted future conditions) by observing how certain parameters in the sea floor sediments at these sites vary over time. This could give an insight as to how climate change might affect our oceans over time.
Effective communication is at the heart of good science. For as long as humans have tried to understand the natural world they have shared information and ideas, with a view to improving our collective understanding.
With the widespread adoption of digital tools for communication the potential for citizens to contribute to the sciences has never been greater.
The Open University has recently published a new Open Learn course that will help you to explore the evolving landscape of science communication, developing skills in critical evaluation, communication and engagement, whilst exploring a range of contemporary topics in science.