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For Good

The Assessment of Al pollution in the Aire and Calder Canal: Ecological Effects and Remediation Options

Student: Isobel Peake
Status: Completed
Dissertation: The Assessment of Al pollution in the Aire and Calder Canal: Ecological Effects and Remediation Options
Dissertation category: Environment & conservation
Dissertation theme: Environmental Science
Short summary: In April 2019 Isobel completed her research partnership with the Canal and River Trust and handed in her undergraduate dissertation. We caught up with her to find out how she found the partnership approach to her research and what her advice is to other students considering this option.
Detailed summary:

Why did you decide to get involved with DfG? What did you hope to get out of it? Dissertations for good provided me with an opportunity to carry out research which could actually mean something in the real world. As well as this it gave me an experience of working with a company which carries out work I would like to be involved in as I get older. It is also an excellent opportunity for networking.

Have your experiences matched your original expectations? The partnership I undertook exceeded any expectations I had before I started. My main contact was so helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure the project was everything I wanted it to be. As well as this, when I had finished my dissertation I have a chance to present it to a range of people within the Canal and River trust as well as the Environment Agency, which certainly made me aware of the importance of the research I carried out.

What skills have you developed through completing a project with DfG? Better communication skills within a professional environment as well as improving my presentation skills and making me feel more confident. It also made me adaptable and not everything with my project went amazingly but that didn't stop me achieving the aims I set out to.

What knowledge have you gained as a result of completing a project through DfG? How important research can be and that good research always raises more questions than it answers which is certainly what happened with my project. How best to interact with a company within a research partnership so both you and them get the most out of the project.

Have you made any changes to your lifestyle as a result of completing a project through DfG? Due to my degree I am already very aware of steps which need to be taken regarding moving towards living more sustainably but I am more confident in talking about issues and ideas I have on how to do this.

What was your highlight of doing a DfG dissertations? Definitely learning more about the trust as well as doing the presentation at the end. I found this so rewarding and it made me consider objectively what my research meant for the trust as well as how it may be important to the many differing sectors. It was really nice to see so many people interested in my research something which as an undergraduate is rarely experienced.

What did you find most challenging about doing a DfG dissertations? Organisation was the most challenging thing and the distance of my site (Leeds) to my university (Stoke-on-Trent). As this meant that a lot of traveling was required to and from site but it was definitely all worth it.

Looking to the future

Do you think your experiences of working with your partnered organisation through DfG will improve your chances of getting a job when you leave university or college? Yes

How and why? As it gives you something which you can take to interview to talk about, but it is based in the real world and because you did it for an organisation you immediately have justification of why it was important and necessary. As well as this the organisation may also provide you with a reference which if it is in the field you wish to continue to work in may be very beneficial.

What improvements, if any, would you make to DfG? Possibly increasing the number of partnerships in natural science as when I was looking for a partnership the majority of those on offer were social.

What advice would you give to other students looking to get involved in DfG? It is one of the most worth while things you can do especially at undergraduate level where opportunities for research with an industry are minimal. It puts you a step above the rest throughout job interviews and anything you can do to make your degree stand out is highly beneficial in the competitive graduate job market.

University: Keele University
Course: Environment and Sustainability
Partnered with: Canal and River Trust