Geography External Advisory Board

The External Advisory Board ensures that the Department of Geography remains adaptive to the ever-changing contexts in which we work. Eminent associates can contribute to our strategy and actions, with mutual benefits from close partnership. Chaired by Emeritus Professor Paul White, the membership of the Board ensures appropriate representation from across our key partners.

Rob Allan

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

Rob joined the UK Meteorological Office in mid-2000 and was initially responsible for the development, quality control and archiving of global monthly mean sea level pressure (MSLP) data sets.

Previously he spent some 10 years at CSIRO’s Atmospheric Research Division in Melbourne, Australia, where his research focused on the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomena. 

Sean Burke

Groundwater Directorate, British Geological Survey

Following extensive studies in Environmental Geology, Groundwater Engineering and a PhD in Environmental Geochemistry, Sean worked as a Research Associate in the Department, followed by eight years as a Senior Scientist with the Environment Agency.

Sean became a Senior Hydrogeologist for the British Geological Survey (BGS) in 2012, which is the world's oldest national geological survey and the United Kingdom's premier centre for earth science information and expertise.

Jacqui Cotton

Principal Scientist, Environment Agency

Jacqui leads the Environment Agency'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.

Prior to her current role, she helped develop and deliver the operational flood forecasting service.
Jacqui has a PhD in floodplain geomorphology and palaeoecology.

Jim Dixon

Writer, broadcaster
Member, World Commission on Protected Areas

Jim Dixon has had a long career in environmental management, conservation, tourism, the countryside and public affairs, and 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 an operator for special interest cultural tours to the British countryside. He is a former Deputy Chair of an NHS Trust, Chair of Government Advisory Panels and for 12 years was CEO of the Peak District National Park Authority.

Kay Graham

Associate Director, Department of Education

Kay completed a BA and PhD at the University of Sheffield and has since worked at community, local and national level for organisations such as the Surrey Police, the Nottingham New Deal for Communities and the Department for Education.

Kay subsequently took the role of Deputy Director for Further Education Teachers and Leaders, and 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, NERC

Anthony Edward Hill is Executive Director of the National Oceanography Centre and Honorary Professor of Oceanography at the University of Southampton. He taught Oceanography at the University of Wales, then joined the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and moved to Southampton in 2005 as Director at the National Oceanography Centre.

Professor Hill has served as a member of the International Steering Committee of the Global Climate Observing System, Vice-Chair of the European Marine Board, Chair of the Governing Board of the UK’s Centre for Ocean Forecasting and on the Executive Committee of the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean.

Alan Kinder

Chief Executive, Geographical Association

Alan's roles within geographical education have taken him around the planet. As a government advisor, he has had a significant influence on the national curriculum for geography and was a member of the A Level Content Advisory Board geography panel.

Alan has written and contributed to a large body of professional and curriculum materials and currently sits on the Council for British Geography, is a Director of the Council for Subject Associations and a corresponding member of the International Geographical Union Commission on Geographical Education UK sub-committee.

Vanessa Lawrence

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

Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB works internationally as a senior advisor to governments, inter-governmental organisations and large private sector organisations. From 2000-2014, she was the Director-General and CEO of Ordnance Survey, Britain’s National Mapping Authority and the advisor to the British Government for issues involving mapping, surveying and geographic information.

Vanessa was also a founding co-chair of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) which grew to having over 140 nations at Ministerial and Senior Official level involved during her tenure.

Richard Leafe

Chief Executive, Lake District National Park Authority

Richard has been the Lake District National Park Authority's Chief Executive since 2007, previously having been Regional Director in the North West for Natural England and working for one of their predecessors, English Nature, for 15 years.

A Geography graduate from The University of Sheffield, Richard also gained an MPhil in Coastal Geomorphology and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters for his work in National Parks. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Board Member for the Environment Agency.

Jon Lee

Quaternary Geologist, British Geological Survey

Jon is a specialist in Quaternary Geology with expertise in UK Quaternary stratigraphy, glacial processes and glacitectonics. He has extensive field experience working in the UK and internationally 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

After graduating from the University of Sheffield in 1983, Richard Mayson worked 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 award-winning books on wine.

Richard Mayson is currently Pro-Chancellor and a member of Council at the University of Sheffield where he also chairs the Alumni Board.

Polly Russell

Lead Curator for Politics and Public Life, British Library

Dr Polly Russell is responsible for building collections and developing related products and services at the British Library. Her PhD thesis, undertaken in our Geography Department, examined contemporary food production and the politics of identity. Before starting her PhD, Polly worked as a Food Product Developer at Marks & Spencer.

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 BBC series ‘Back in Time for Dinner’.

Sarah Woodmansey

Development Executive, Ask Real Estate

Sarah gained a BSc in Geography from the University of Sheffield in 2014, graduating the following year with an MA degree (Merit) in Real Estate Planning and Development.

In Spring 2018, Sarah qualified as a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and joined the team at Ask Real Estate, a market-leading business in the property industry, where her main role is delivering mixed-use development across the North.

Sarah has worked on a number of high profile redevelopment schemes in major British cities and continues to influence major developments, helping to shape the built environment of the future.