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BSG Outreach Industry Representative - Dr Helen Reid

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Dr Helen Reid - New Industry Representative for the BSG Outreach Committee

The British Society for Geomorphology is the professional body for geomorphologists in the UK, whether they are working in academia, industry or are hobbyists. To improve the links between research geomorphologists and those in industry, the Outreach Committee maintains a position for an Industry Representative. Recently, we welcomed Dr Helen Reid of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) into this post, and here she tells use more about herself and what the position entails.

Helen weir photo.jpg

Dr Helen Reid - BSG Outreach Industry Representative

"My role within the BSG is to provide a link between geomorphologists working in industry and academia," Helen told us. "With the introduction of the WFD [Water Framework Directive] legislation the number of geomorphologists working in both government and consultancies has ballooned. This provides the challenge for those of us in industry to retain up-to-date scientific skillsets. However, it also provides key opportunities to create better collaborations and partnerships with academia. Hopefully being able to share issues in applied geomorphology could help facilitate scientific research which hopes to fill some of these gaps."

 "As part of my role, I have been working with Annie Ockelford [Chair of the Outreach Committee] to set up a live streamed lecture series of prominent geomorphologists, to improve the transfer of knowledge and science both to those of us in industry and within academia. We already have a fantastic line up including Professor Angela Gurnell, Professor Nick Clifford, Dr. Jeff Warburton, Dr. Eugene Farrell and Professor Joanna Curran. I personally can’t wait to be inspired!"

Originally from New Zealand, Helen describes herself as a Kiwi, she gained an Honours Degree (equivalent to a UK Masters) in Geography and Environmental Science from the University of Auckland. She stayed there for ten years, gaining a full Research Masters studying how localised geo-diversity influenced macroinverterbrate communities along a land-use continuum. Deciding that bugs and microscopes were not her thing, Helen went on to complete a PhD looking at the morphodynamics of a wandering gravel bed river which drained the central Volcanic Plateau of New Zealand.

Post-PhD, Helen moved to England and started work as a Geomorphologist for the Environment Agency delivering river restoration projects in the Lake District, and in October 2015 hopped across the border to Stirling to start a new job with SEPA.


Newly restored stretch of the River Lyvennet in the Eden Valley

"SEPA are being very strategic and ambitions in their approach to WFD delivery and it is a very exciting place to work. In Scotland, geomorphology is included as a factor which determines river health, rather than just ecology and water chemistry. The science is also interesting, as they have used remote sensing to record pressures along all waterbodies and used this to assess the ‘geomorphic capacity’ of each reach. This has been grounded by walkover surveys of ~5680 km of river which are failing their objectives. This unprecedented dataset will be used to identify why waterbodies are failing and plan catchment scale restoration which will be far more targeted. My role is to advise on individual schemes as well as develop high level guidance. Being involved in helping plan and deliver restoration in this context is very exciting."

"Communicating geomorphology to the range of stakeholders has been really rewarding and seeing better gains for the environment as a result of better scientific understanding is a fantastic thing."