University Alumna Hilary Spurrier visits SEE

On 24th October the School of Earth and Environment (SEE) welcomed Leeds alumna Hilary Spurrier, nee High (History, 1972).

Hilary has generously contributed to an annual bursary scheme at the University of Leeds which supports the fieldwork costs of postgraduate students undertaking sustainable agricultural research. During her visit to SEE, Hilary met one of the recipients of her bursaries, Katrine Madsen (MSc student, SEE) and two other SEE PhD students (Elizabeth Harrison and Eleanor Jew) who have also received support through the scheme - thanks to the support of another generous alumni donor, Nigel Bertram (Agriculture, 1971). Hilary was able to find out how additional financial support has enhanced the quality of the students’ research and has had an impact on the areas where they worked through improved partnership working, both with UK-based and overseas agencies and organisations. Hilary said afterwards "It was a real privilege to meet… the students – they were so inspiring!"

Hilary has a personal interest in palaeontology and was able to view some of the School’s related teaching and research facilities. This included the Palaeontology Lab where she viewed some of the working materials currently used by staff and research students from the Palaeontology Research Group. While this material is mostly used for research, Bob Finch (School Curator) explained, “Some of this material is actively used to supplement teaching in practical classes as a way of integrating research into our teaching programmes”. Hilary also saw the Teaching and Reference Collection Room which houses approx. 20,000 fossils and minerals where she viewed ammonites which are used in first and second year undergraduate practical classes as well as some of our impressive mineral specimens from around the world. Bob described how, “Most of the palaeo specimens here have either been collected to support research over the life of the School (and therefore a significant number will have been referenced directly by, or be supplemental to, published research papers), others have been collected to support teaching, with the aim of improving the breadth of the collection held at Leeds”. Lastly we visited the Earth Visualisation Lab, a teaching space designed to integrate PC/web access with direct visualisation from our microscope system, where Hilary saw a second year palaeo practical class in progress.

For more information about visiting the School of Earth and Environment and/or the wider University Campus, please contact Joanna Bowen via alumni(at)