BSc Geography graduate wins Royal Geographical Society dissertation prize

Stephanie Lake's dissertation on deforestation in Malawi was "of clear First Class standard".

Dirt track through a deforested area
Image credit: David Gilbert/RAN

Stephanie Lake completed her BSc Geography in 2019 with a First, and has recently been awarded the third prize undergraduate dissertation award by the Rural Geography Research Group, part of the Royal Geographical Society.

Her outstanding dissertation titled “An investigation into the drivers of deforestation in Malawi and the effectiveness of protected areas as a mitigation strategy”, was praised by the judging panel for being “of clear First Class standard and the best all round from the excellent group submitted to us.”

Steph’s dissertation reports her research using GIS (Geographical Information Systems) into the relationships between the factors influencing deforestation. Steph produced a series of outstanding maps of Malawi, including some new mapping of roads in forest and rural areas, after making some surprising discoveries about how deforestation was developing.

This work represents a cross-over between Development Geography and Physical Geography, and the award illustrates how the Department’s students are at the forefront of undergraduate research.

Steph’s dissertation supervisor, Professor Ed Rhodes, said: “We are very proud of Steph, and wish her all the best in her new role as Social and Environmental Impact Officer at the charity Leapfrog, who work in community-led renewable energy schemes. Congratulations Steph!”

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