As part of DECCMA, a group of postgraduate research students has been established across the project partners. In total, there are about 20 PhD students working within the project, with a substantial and vibrant group of six based at the University of Southampton. Their work complements one another by examining how people are adapting to the physical effects of climate change, covering a broad range of topics from the physical aspects of deltas to their socio-economical dynamics. In order to showcase this cross-faculty postgraduate research group on deltas and to give these early-career researchers the opportunity to present their work and to engage with experts in the area of mutual interests and expertise, the students organised a seminar series hosted by the School of Geography and the Environment of the University of Southampton.
The inaugural event occurred on the 29th of April 2015, where the postgraduate research students presented their research, with an emphasis on their objectives, methods and conceptual frameworks. Around 50 people attended the seminar, coming from a broad range of organisations (University of Southampton, University of Sussex, Oxfam) and disciplines (geography, environmental sciences, social sciences, engineering).
The first part of the event, chaired by Professor Steve Darby (head of the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Southampton), started with an introduction to DECCMA by Professor Robert Nicholls. Afterwards, Sarah Spinney presented her research on how morphological evolutions affect the sustainability of deltas, followed by Greg Cooper who discussed socio-ecological tipping points of deltas.
After a first round of questions, the second part of the seminar took place, chaired by Dr Craig Hutton (GeoData Institute). Qazi Waheed-Uz-Zaman explored the potential for social enterprise as a driver of community management in the GBM delta. This presentation, bridging both environmental sciences and socioeconomics, was followed by a talk with a similar approach given by Tristan Berchoux on the links between natural hazards, agriculture and the long-term dynamics of rural livelihood. Later, Margherita Fanchiotti gave a presentation on modelling community resilience to tropical cyclones in the Mahanadi delta. Following this speech, and based on the same community-based approach, Giorgia Prati presented her research on gender and adaptation in deltas. Finally, Professor John Dearing (Professor in Physical Geography at the University of Southampton) concluded the event by giving a vibrant summary of DECCMA and the contribution of PhD students to its outputs.
As a conclusion, it is important to highlight the outputs of this inaugural event. For the students, as early career researchers, the seminar has given them the opportunity to have feedback at initial stages of their project, from a broad range of people working in a variety of disciplines and organisations. Moreover, it has allowed them and the project to gain more visibility by showcasing innovative research from the early stages of conceptualisation. Last but not least, the event gave to all of the participants the opportunity to network, especially with representatives from the sister project ASSAR and students from other universities.
Building on this successful event, the next seminar in the series will be held in six-months’ time, with an in-depth focus on two of the research projects. The DECCMA PhD students from the University of Southampton will also be creating a network with other students from India, Bangladesh and Ghana, the next step will be to create a vibrant network with all the DECCMA PhD students. This group would then enjoy liaising with PhD students from the other CARIAA consortia.