Advisory board.

External members | Department members

The Department of Geography advisory board ensures that both our teaching and research are responsive to the changing context within which we operate and that our activities achieve positive outcomes for our students and our external stakeholders. We also view the Board as a forum for eminent individuals associated with our Department to contribute to our strategy and actions and for their organisations to benefit from close partnership with ourselves. The membership of the Board is designed to ensure appropriate representation from across our key partners. We are most grateful to our Board members for giving their time and commitment to this initiative and we look forward to working with them.

Our advisory board members:

  • Provide guidance on the strategic direction, actions and initiatives of the Department
  • Provide advice, as required, on specific challenges and opportunities for the Department
  • Support the Department in maximising outcomes for our students and partners through teaching and student experience that delivers the knowledge and professional skills and aptitudes required by key sectors and organisations that our graduates will commence their careers with
  • Support the Department in ensuring that our research enhances its positive impact on key stakeholders and that maximises our opportunities to work in collaboration with our partners in undertaking research and influencing policy and practice
  • Support the Department in raising our international profile through events and communications

The Board will be chaired by Emeritus Professor Paul White.

External members

Rob Allan

International ACRE Project Manager, Climate Management and Arbitration Group, Met Office Hadley Centre

RobRob Allan joined the Hadley Centre at the Meteorological Office in the UK in mid-2000 after some 10 years working in the Climate Impact Group at CSIRO’s Atmospheric Research Division in Melbourne, Australia. His research focused on the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomena, interannual to secular scale climatic variability and climate change. At the Hadley Centre, Allan was initially responsible for the development, quality control and archiving of the Centre’s historical gridded global monthly mean sea level pressure (MSLP) data set (HadSLP), the daily gridded North Atlantic-European MSLP data set (EMSLP), and the historical global land and island MSLP data base.

Sean Burke

Groundwater Directorate, British Geological Survey

SeanSean was awarded a BSc in Environmental Geology from the University of Sheffield in 1996. He subsequently joined a environmental consultancy before embarking on a MSc at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in Groundwater Engineering. This was followed by a PhD at the University of Sheffield in Environmental Geochemistry. Sean subsequently worked as a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield within the Geography Department, followed by eight years as a Senior Scientist within the Environment Agency in the National Centre supporting policy and technical staff on environmental protection, sustainability and regulation. Additional tasks were to advise, nationally and internationally on environmental protection and regulation. In 2010 Sean joined the University of Newcastle to help develop the evidence base in supporting interdisciplinary integrated catchment management and facilitating knowledge exchange across communities of practice to address catchment management. Sean joined the British Geological Survey (BGS) in 2012 as a Senior Hydrogeologist. The BGS is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is its principal supplier of national capability in geosciences. Founded in 1835, the British Geological Survey (BGS) is the world's oldest national geological survey and the United Kingdom's premier centre for earth science information and expertise.

Jacqui Cotton

Senior Research Scientist, Environment Agency

JacquiJacqui is a Principle Scientist at the Environment Agency, working in the team that delivers the Joint Environment Agency/Defra/NRW/Welsh Government Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Research and Development Programme. She leads the programme’s Policy, Strategy and Investment theme which covers risk communications, the social and health impacts of floods, flood risk economics, catchment flood management and strategic responses to coastal flood risk. Jacqui develops projects to address the tactical and strategic research needs of flood risk authorities and works with academics to set out flood risk challenges requiring blue skies research. Jacqui has worked at the EA for 10 years. Prior to her current role, she helped develop and deliver the operational flood forecasting service.

Jacqui has a PhD in floodplain geomorphology and palaeoecology. After her PhD, and prior to joining the EA, she was a post-doctoral research assistant on the NERC LOCAR programme where she investigated fine sediment dynamics in groundwater-fed rivers.

Jim Dixon

Member World Commission on Protected Areas

Jim Dixon has had a long career in environmental management, conservation, tourism, the countryside and public affairs. He is currently a Trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, a contributor to The Times, Chair of the Northumbrian and Essex and Suffolk Water Forums and a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas. He is the Director of a Tourism Consultancy and also set up a Tour Operator which provides special interest cultural tours to the British countryside. The company won a successful bid to be amongst the first 7 Discover England Fund projects announced by the Prime Minister in August 2016. He is a former Deputy Chair of a NHS Trust, Chair of Government Advisory Panels and was, for 12 years CEO of the Peak District National Park Authority. For 4 years, he led the 15 UK National Parks. He is a former Defra civil servant and has held appointments with the RSPB, Natural England and the Countryside Commission. Jim was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Derby in 2014. Detail on Jim’s work can be found at, and

Kay Graham

Assistant Director, Department of Education

Kay completed a BA in geography at the University of Sheffield in 1992. Having enjoyed studying human geography in particular, she stayed in the department and went on to complete a PhD which examined the experiences of elderly Italians in the Paris region. Since her academic studies, Kay has worked at community, local and national level in a variety of research and policy roles. Initially, she led various aspects of research and public consultation for Surrey Police and Surrey County Council. She then became the Director of Evaluation at Nottingham New Deal for Communities regeneration programme. Since then, she has worked in central government in the Department for Education (and its predecessors). Kay has held a variety of policy roles including early years, disadvantage, teacher quality, school funding and safeguarding. She has just taken up the role of Deputy Director for Further Education Quality. Kay continues to have an enthusiasm both for geography and research, which she considers key influences in her day-to-day role.

Ed Hill

Head of National Oceanography Centre, NERC

AnthonyEdward Hill is Executive Director of the National Oceanography Centre and Honorary Professor of Oceanography at the University of Southampton. He gained his BSc in Applied Mathematics from the University of Sheffield in 1981 and an MSc (1983) and PhD (1987) in Physical Oceanography from the University of Wales, Bangor. He held academic positions at Bangor where he taught Oceanography and where his research majored on the dynamics of continental shelf seas and the influence on marine ecosystems. In 1999 he joined the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) as Director of its Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory where he developed a new programme of scientific research and oversaw its relocation to its present site on the campus of the University of Liverpool. Edward then moved to Southampton in 2005 as Director at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton - a jointly managed enterprise between NERC and the University of Southampton.

Alan Kinder

Chief Executive Geographical Association

AlanAlan Kinder is the Chief Executive of the Geographical Association, the leading subject association for all teachers of geography. Alan has undertaken a wide variety of roles within geographical education: geography teacher, school and curriculum leader, field studies officer, local authority adviser, PGCE tutor and consultant. His work has taken him from the south coast of England to South Yorkshire and from continental Europe to South-East Asia, giving him the opportunity to work with hundreds of schools from across the UK and further afield. Alan has written and contributed to a large body of professional and curriculum materials: books, CPD courses, newspaper and journal articles and website materials on behalf of organisations including the Geographical Association, Oxford University Press, Routledge, Prince’s Teaching Institute, Times Educational Supplement, RGSIBG and many others. He is, with John Widdowson, the series co-editor of the GA's award-winning Key Stage 3 Geography Teacher's Toolkit.

Vanessa Lawrence

Co-Chair, United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management

Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB is currently working internationally as a senior advisor to governments, inter-governmental organisations and large private sector organisations. In addition, she is a Non-Executive Director of the Satellite Applications Catapult whose focus is fostering innovation in the use of satellite data.

She is the Honorary Colonel of 135 Geographic Squadron Royal Engineers, on the Advisory Group of the Urban Big Data Centre and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southampton and Visiting Professor at Kingston University.

Vanessa has previously held the post of Director General and CEO of Ordnance Survey, Britain’s National Mapping Authority and she was the advisor to the British Government for issues involving mapping, surveying and geographic information. She is the longest serving Director General and CEO of Ordnance Survey since 1875 and was the founding co-chair of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM).

Richard Leafe

Chief Executive, Lake District National Park Authority

RichLeafRichard joined the Lake District National Park Authority as Chief Executive in June 2007. Previously he was Regional Director in the North West for Natural England, a role he took up in October 2006. Richard worked for one of Natural England’s predecessors, English Nature, for 15 years.

Richard is a Geography graduate from Sheffield University where he also gained an MPhil in Coastal Geomorphology. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, away from work Richard is a keen climber, runner, cyclist and skier. From September 2012 Richard became a Board Member for the Environment Agency.

Jon Lee

Quaternary Geologist, British Geological Survey

Jon joined BGS shortly after completing his PhD in 2003 and is a specialist in Quaternary Geology with an expertise in UK Quaternary stratigraphy, glacial processes and glacitectonics. He also possesses extensive field experience working in the UK (including East Anglia, the Midlands, East Yorkshire, Devon and Anglesey) and internationally (including Norway, Germany, UAE and Korea) on geology within lowland glacigenic terrains, sedimentary basins, modern desert environments, coastal sabkha and anthropogenic systems.

Richard Mayson

Chair of University Alumni Board and member of University Council

RichMayAfter graduating from the University of Sheffield in 1983, Richard Mayson began his career working for The Wine Society (Britain’s oldest and most respected wine club) and won the Vintner’s Company Scholarship in 1987. He specialises in the wines of Iberia (especially fortified wines) and has written five books on wine including The Wines and Vineyards of Portugal (winner of the André Simon Award 2003) Port and the Douro (2013) and Madeira The Islands and their Wines (2015 – short listed for the André Simon Award). Richard is Series Editor for the Infinite Ideas Classic Wine Library. He writes regularly for The World of Fine Wine and Decanter magazines, chairing the Port and Madeira panels in the Decanter World Wine Awards. Richard owns a vineyard near Portalegre in the Alto Alentejo region of Portugal where he is producing three red wines named Pedra Basta, Duas Pedras and Pedra e Alma.

Richard Mayson is a Cavaleiro of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto. He is a member of Council of the University of Sheffield where he also Chair’s the Alumni Board. Married, with three children, he lives in the Peak District, North Derbyshire.

Polly Russell

Lead Curator for Politics and Public Life, British Library

PollyDr Polly Russell works as the Lead Curator for Contemporary Politics and Public Life in the Archives and Manuscripts Department at the British Library and as a freelance food historian and writer. At the British Library she is responsible for building collections and developing related products and services for research, student, school and general audiences. Polly has been the British Library lead in a number of collaborative research projects including the 2004-2007 ESRC-AHRC funded 3-year ‘Manufacturing Meaning along the Food Commodity Chain’ project with the University of Sheffield and the Leverhulme funded 2012-2015 project ‘Sisterhood & After: the Women’s Liberation Movement Oral History Project’ with the University of Sussex. More recently Polly led the project to digitise and make freely available the entire run of Spare Rib magazines.

Polly’s research subjects include the history of British food and the social, cultural and political connections between food and everyday life as well as women's history and feminism. Her PhD thesis, undertaken in the Geography Department at the University of Sheffield, examined contemporary food production and the politics of identity. Prior to starting her PhD Polly worked as a food Product Developer at Marks & Spencer.

Outside of her curatorial role Polly divides her times between consultancy, writing and broadcast. She is a Trustee of the Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery, works with Heston Blumenthal as his historical researcher, has a column in the Financial Times (‘The History Cook’) and regularly contributes to BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme. Polly is the co-presenter on the BBC2s living history series ‘Back in Time for Dinner’.

Department members

Name Role Email
Professor Grant Bigg PGR School Co-Director and former Head of Department
Michael Boultby

Finance and Research Officer

  • 2008-2012 - TUoS Payments Office Clerical Officer
  • 2012-2014 TUoS Payments Office Team Leader
  • Apr 2014 - TUoS Dept of Geography, Finance Officer
  • Aug 2016 - TUoS Dept of Geography, Finance & Research Officer
Kate Findlater

Teaching and Learning Manager

  • 2007 BA (Hons) History, Heritage & Museums, Uni of Central Lancs
  • 2007-2008 Mentoring Project Administrator, Uni of Central Lancs
  • 2008-2010 Graduate Management Scheme, Uni of Exeter
  • 2010-2012 Administration Team Leader, Uni of Surrey
  • 2012-2015 School Manager, School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, Uni of Reading
  • 2015 to present Teaching & Learning Manager, Department of Geography, Uni of Sheffield
Professor John Flint Head of Department
Rachel Harland

Departmental Manager

  • 2009 MA (Hons) English Language, Uni of Edinburgh
  • 2009 - 2014 Welfare to Work Advisor, Ingeus
  • 2014 - 2016 Head of Information & Operations, Kings College London
  • 2016 to present Department Manager, Department of Geography and Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Uni of Sheffield
Dr Julie Jones Employability Officer
Professor Jenny Pickerill Director of Learning and Teaching
Professor David Robinson Co-Director of Research

Secretary to the board: Gillian Johnson