November 28, 2014, by Matt

Environment Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (and a bit about the West African Monsoon!)

Former Nottingham Geography student Rachael Lem has just started the second year of her NERC funded PhD within the Department of Geography at the University of Liverpool. There’s more about Rachael’s PhD at the foot of this post, where Rachael tells us what she’s been up to in Liverpool alongside her PhD work…

‘We are BioHome and we are fuelling YOUR future.

We are a team of 4 PhD students from the Geography Department of the University of Liverpool and are taking part in the University of Nottingham’s Environment Young Entrepreneurs Scheme or rather EnvironmentYES ( The scheme is a hypothetical competition designed to develop business awareness and an understanding of entrepreneurship in UK environmental postgraduate students and postdoctoral scientists.

We have established BioHome – a domestic appliance company with a novel solution to waste food. Our product, the BioCook uses the historic process of anaerobic digestion in an innovative way by using the methane produced by domestic food and garden waste decomposition to fuel household ovens. Our product is the first of its kind on the market; not only does it provide customers with an environmentally friendly kitchen appliance, but it tackles the growing issues of food waste, landfill and excess methane production.

BioHome won the regional heat of EnvironmentYES at a 3 day workshop at Old Trafford in October. We are competing in the grand final of the competition in London In December where we will be presenting our business plan in a Dragons Den style pitch to leading Venture Capitalists, Business Angels and of course scientists. Whilst we refine the product, facilitate real life trade partnerships and rehearse our pitch, we need as much support as possible to secure our place as winners of the competition. Please follow us on twitter: @Bio_Home_Liv and like us on facebook: BioHome.

Sometimes it is difficult for the 4 of us to remember that it is actually a hypothetical competition, but who knows, with the right support and commitment you might see the BioCook in the John Lewis catalogue in a few years’ time!’

And about the PhD..!

The main aim of my PhD project is to determine the past millennial and centennial variability of the West African Monsoon System. To do this I have a 34 m marine core taken from the Ogooué Fan off the West coast of Africa which spans the last 140, 000 years. I am using pollen and non-pollen palynomorph analysis to reconstruct past changes in vegetation, and stable isotopic and geochemical analyses to determine past shifts in local and global palaeotemperature and precipitation regimes. This will be the first high resolution record in this area that covers the preponderance of the Quaternary Period; it is hoped that the project will play a key role in understanding past shifts in the West African Monsoon system and facilitate future modelling and understanding of West African climate.

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