Sarah Fell

Why did you choose to study for a PhD at the University of Leeds?

It was primarily the project which led me to choose to study at Leeds. I was looking for a PhD which brought together by previous research areas of Geography, Ecology and Conservation and this project enabled me to do so. It was the most exciting proposal that I had seen advertised and felt like a good fit for my research interests. Other draws included the departmental expertise and opportunity for NERC funding.  

Tell us about your research

I study alpine river ecosystems and their response to glacier retreat. Climatic warming is of greatest rate and magnitude in areas of high altitude and latitude, causing alpine glaciers to thin and retreat at accelerating rates. I am interested in how these cyrospheric changes will impact upon the structure and functioning of river communities. My work looks at the implications for food web structure, alongside how processes such as benthic decomposition and respiration will alter as catchment glacier cover decreases. I hope to use my findings to inform alpine freshwater conservation and management strategies.     

What is your favourite part of studying at Leeds?

The School of Geography is a diverse and friendly place to work. There is a broad range of research areas ensuring that there is always something interesting to listen to. As a city it has great food, music, sport and is close to the Yorkshire Dales.

What activities do you take part in outside of your studies?

I like to run, swim and go fell walking. I also walk RSPCA rescue dogs while they are waiting to be rehomed.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I would like to remain in research if possible and will look for a postdoc position which enables me to continue my work. However, given the competitive nature of this industry, I will keep an open mind toward other roles which could help me to build a career within my field.

Any advice for prospective students?

My best advice for prospective students would be to look for the potential opportunities which can arise from research. For myself and many colleagues, our PhD has taken us to places that we could not have imagined at the beginning of our projects.