Damien Mansell - a 2006 bursary student

"The Nuffield bursary scheme was an invaluable opportunity to gain an insight into a career in scientific research and reinforced my aspirations of postgraduate studies."

Damien during his research in the Arctic circle

In 2006, during Damien’s second year of studying Geography as an undergraduate, he spent two months over the summer at the University of Sheffield to research the Climatology of cold air drainage in the Derwent Valley, Peak District. Talking about the experience, Damien said:

"My project used climate data from 5 stations, to determine the frequency of cold air events within the Derwent Valley over a 2 and a half year period. After collating this data and establishing the basic reality and climatology of the process, I began a satellite remote sensing study where I examined surface brightness temperatures on nights from a selection of case studies to analyse cold air flow patterns."

Damien takes measurements from a glacier in Svalbard

After completing his degree, Damien moved to the Glaciology Group at Swansea University's School of Environment and Society to start his PhD. He has continued working in remote sensing and his PhD research project focuses on quantifying the loss of ice from Svalbard tidewater glaciers to form icebergs, known as calving.

Damien added: "As part of my PhD project I have spent two months in the Arctic studying and collecting data for research projects within the glaciology group. Along with in-depth scientific techniques, I also had to learn snow-scooter driving and Arctic survival skills!

During his trip, Damien was lucky to see a spectacular display of the Northern Lights.

During my Nuffield Undergraduate placement, I was collaborating with PhD students, and this gave me the opportunity to talk to people who could offer advice on the ways of applying for a PhD and the different funding opportunities. This, along with the experience and skills I learnt on the project were invaluable in setting me up for a career in scientific research."

Damien is now at the end of his first year of a PhD, and aims to complete his thesis in 2010.