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Award-winning researchers, passionate about their subject

When you study Geography at Queen Mary, you’ll learn from leaders in the field whose work helps to highlight and tackle some of the most pressing societal and environmental issues of the day.

Not only are our academics friendly and passionate about their subject, but their research feeds into their teaching. 

Professor Miles Ogborn

An award-winning researcher, Miles’ work encompasses global historical geographies and historical geographies of modernity. His research has examined the experience of children in London from 1870 to the present day; the relationship between talk, text and slavery in slave societies in the Caribbean; and the man essentially responsible for the British Museum, Sir Hans Sloane.

His prestigious record includes a number of high-profile awards: 

  • 2015–2017 – Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship 
  • 2012 – elected a Fellow of the British Academy 
  • 2009 – Distinguished Historical Geographer. Awarded by the Historical Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers 
  • 2001 – Philip Leverhulme Prize from the Leverhulme Trust. 

Miles explains the relationship between his research and teaching, saying: “I teach parts of human geography that are often new to students arriving at university, so it is important to make them accessible. In the third year I teach a module (GEG6105 Global Historical Geographies) based on my book Global Lives – and also on visits to London museums.  

“Here students are taught how to use historical sources, and how to write their own historical accounts of subjects such as slavery, piracy and oceanic voyaging.” 

Dr Kate Spencer

Kate is an environmental geochemist whose pioneering work on how landfills are impacting UK waters has put her at the forefront of this area of research. 

Historic landfill sites may have been closed and, mostly, forgotten about, but there are ongoing risks from the contamination and pollution caused by buried waste. Kate’s work has put the issue back in the spotlight, highlighting the dangers these sites still pose. Her research has shown how a site buried in Thurrock, Essex in the 1970s is at risk of contaminating the Thames Estuary due to increasing site erosion.

She explained to BBC News: “We know that this site is eroding, we know of a number of others around the UK, and we know of well over a thousand sites that are vulnerable to potential flooding and erosion.” 

Now, historic landfill sites are a research focus for the School of Geography, with Kate’s findings providing vital information with which to raise awareness of this issue and form a national response. 

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