Lancaster University

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National Prize for Geography Student

07/01/2009 11:09:04

Heather Dinsdale at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London
Heather Dinsdale at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London

Geography student Heather Dinsdale of the Lancaster Environment Centre has been awarded a prize for the best undergraduate dissertation in the UK.

She was awarded the Alfred Steer Essay Prize 2008 by the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). Founded in London in 1830, the RGS-IBG is a leading world centre for geographical and environmental education.

Now working for HSBC Bank plc on its Executive Management Programme, Heather said: “This prestigious award is the icing on the cake following three very enjoyable years of hard work at Lancaster University. This award is also testament to the abilities and enthusiasm of Geography lecturers at Lancaster University, who were a true inspiration to me.”

The prize is awarded each year by an independent panel to the undergraduate dissertation judged to be the best in a UK geography department.
Heather’s thesis was a study of people’s experiences of growing old in different institutional settings, developed from focus groups and in-depth interviews.

Dr Rita Gardner CBE, Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: “We are delighted that Heather’s outstanding efforts have been recognised with this prestigious award.”

Dr Saskia Vermeylen from the Department of Geography at the Lancaster Environment Centre said Heather had written an outstanding dissertation.

“Heather’s writing and analytical skills were so exquisite that her dissertation must not only been given credit for its academic merits, but the way in which Heather gave a voice to a group of people who are usually silenced in our society made it also a moving dissertation that forced the reader to engage with some of the bigger questions in life. In an indirect way, the latter also sums up Heather - she kept all her lecturers on their toes with her exceptionally inquisitive mind.”

Commenting on the award for the RGS-IBG, Catherine Souch, Head of Research and Higher Education, said: “The independent assessors who reviewed Heather’s work, Ian Simmons of Durham University, and Allan Williams of London Metropolitan University, were particularly impressed with how Heather’s dissertation addressed a research area that is not only relatively neglected in geography but also of increasing resonance in an ageing society.
They felt that she undertook her focus groups and in-depth interviews with a rare clarity of purpose, and considerable sensitivity in relation to potentially highly emotive and challenging issues.”