November 23, 2012, by Matt

A day in the Life of a Geographer … Odette Paramor

This week we welcome Odette Paramor from our Ningbo campus to the ‘Day in the Life…’ team…

‘A UK colleague came to visit UNNC recently and remarked that he found the place ‘intriguing’. He hadn’t known quite what to expect, but it wasn’t a fully functioning UK university campus plonked in the suburbs (for the moment) of a second-tier Chinese city.

This is my third year here and after the initial slog effort of getting the environmental sciences degree programme off the ground, the Department of Geographical Sciences will be formally established in September 2013. Our first cohort of 4+0 Environmental Sciences students arrived this September (along with our first international student!) and we gained another two academic staff last month with the addition of Yu-Ting Tang and Faith Chan (hurrah!). It’s a relief that we’re finally moving forwards and out of the shadow of the Division of Engineering with whom we’ve been based since arrival (lovely though the engineers are).

So, how do we spend our time?

Today, the whole team spent the day with the students listening to oral presentations in the morning and then quizzing them during a poster session in the afternoon. It was pretty good and the students have really developed their debating skills. Things got surprisingly feisty over the issue of whether pandas should be saved from extinction… The students from Sichuan Province (where most of the remaining wild pandas live) say that there are a lot of panda : human conflicts as the management is so strict there that the villagers are no longer allowed to hunt in the forest which causes real problems for the communities in these remote and often deprived areas.

At the other extreme of life in China, I spent most of last week schmoozing with diplomats from the European Commission as part of their EU-China S&T week in Beijing (and am still struggling with my email backlog…sob). The week started with a kick off meeting for UNNC’s first FP7 project DragonSTAR which will be investigating how to improve EU-China cooperation in science and technology. I’m leading a task on societal challenges which should be pretty interesting as we’ll be investigating how China, the EU and the EU member states are developing their urbanisation, energy and food security research agendas and how collaborations can be engineered. This will be important for UNNC as the EU will classify China as an industrialised nation under its next funding framework Horizon 2020 so we won’t be eligible for grants in quite the same way. I also got to hang out at various EU-China diplomatic jamborees on joint laboratories, mobility of researchers and the development of Horizon 2020 (and can thoroughly recommend the French patisserie place used by the Italian Embassy…) before rushing back to Ningbo for Friday morning as Lindsey Brooke from the UoN Communications team was in town with photographer Phil Rowley. We took them out for a spot of field work up in the hills around the Zhangxi River (about a 1.5 hour drive to the west of the city) where students and staff posed artistically whilst standing in a river doing kick sampling and measuring flow rates. It was a little surreal… Hopefully a least a couple of shots will make it into the university’s image bank.

This week has been slightly less crazy, but I’m now having to dash for a plane to Brussels where I’ll be working all next week (she types panickedly as the taxi’s waiting outside) and we’ve got the joys of a QAA visit to look forward to on my return. Gotta go! ‘

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