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Research Experience Placement – Charlie Alvey

What are you studying?

I am studying for a BSc in Environmental Science at the University of Leeds.

Tell us a bit about the project you have been working on this summer?

The project aims to trial monitoring and quantification methods on natural floods management practices (NFM’s) implemented at Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. NFM’s implemented include leaky dams, pond creation and afforestation, which aim to combat the economic and environmental issues of sediment accumulation and flooding in the Skell valley river catchment.

A wide variety of monitoring and quantification methods were involved in investigating these NFM’s. I hope to contribute to the ongoing research at the Sorby Fluid Dynamics Laboratory to help answer and prove some of the many questions surrounding this project including; ‘ are heavy rainfall events causing increased sediment inputs into the river Skell? ‘ and ‘ has the implementation of  NFM’s substantially quantities of precipitation and subsequently slowing the flow of water into the river Skell across the catchment ‘. All with the end goal of helping to preserve fountains abbey and resolve issues for shareholders involved in the Skell valley catchment.

Large Leaky dams implemented on the River Skell.
Small leaky dam on the River Skell.

What new skills have you learned while doing this internship?

I learned various skills that were both specialised to the field of data science and practical transferable skills for any workplace. I developed various specialised data science skills. Including learning to use software to process data,  where I used MeshLab to quantify LiDAR models that I conducted in the field. I took part in implemented and manging various monitoring methods including; Turbidity and level sensors, weather stations, cameras, level weather stations and pump and volunteer sampling. I did a A2 CofC course so I could be qualified to fly unmanned aerial vehicles to produce repeat photogrammetric models of NFM’s. This will be very useful for future research possibilities as UAV’s are increasingly used in data science. The practical skills I further developed included; communicating with shareholders, extensive planning, time management and teamwork on a large project with multiple organisations operating on a tight time frame.

LiDAR model of part of the River Skell.

How have you found working with your research team?

I found working with my supervisor Dave and his colleagues Gareth and Helena in the Sorby Fluid Dynamics ab, as well as the wider Skell Valley Project, to be thoroughly insightful and informative. They were all generous with their time and knowledge and answered any question I asked about the project and industry as a whole. I am immensely appreciative to have had the opportunity to work alongside these incredibly skilled professionals doing great work.

What has been the highlight of the internship for you?

The highlight of the internship was an interdisplinary meeting at fountains abbey with a wide variety of professionals working within the Skell valley project, which opened my eyes both the extend of the project and also how important data science is to large environmental management projects.

Stream gauge in a sediment filled river.

How has doing this internship changed your plans or thoughts about your future career?

This placement has led me to respect and understand how challenging research projects can be. Nonetheless I would consider taking on one in the future and I am definitely interested in pursuing a MscR after my BSc.