copyright Steven Haywood 2019

It was Exeter’s turn to organise this year’s Summer School, which took place from 17th-21st June 2019.  The event had the theme of extreme weather resilience, with our base at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay providing an ideal location overlooking Tor Bay, the focus of the week’s site visits and student “challenge”.

First and second year students were resident for the full week, with earlier cohorts joining them for the poster session, formal dinner and award ceremony on 20th June.  We were also delighted to welcome some of our first PhD graduates and help celebrate their successes.  Our grateful thanks go to Cohort 1 student Wouter Knoben (Bristol), who gave an engaging presentation on his PhD journey (subtitled “Planning is Hard”), prior to departing for Canada and an exciting postdoc position at the University of Saskatchewan.

Summer School hosts our annual Board of Examiners’ meeting, which reviews postgraduate school marks and annual progress reviews for all students.  This was the first such meeting for our new external examiner, Dr Ana Mijic from Imperial College London, and we are grateful to Ana for finding time to speak with students and hear their feedback.

Summer School week additionally plays host to our Advisory Board meeting of industrial and academic partners.  Following the meeting Board members had the opportunity to interact with students to discuss and judge their research posters. Thanks, too, to new Board member Dr Helena Alegre from LNEC in Portugal, who gave an absorbing talk about her career and research interests.

This year’s challenge tasked students with proposing interventions to improve resilience to flooding.  Groups were allocated a local case study and evaluated historical impacts of flooding, current schemes and impact of future climate change in order to identify their preferred intervention options.  Each group then delivered a presentation in the role of a consultancy company, communicating their proposals to their stated client or stakeholder group.  The winning team, presenting proposals in relation to surface flooding in Paignton and Preston to their water company client, comprised David Birt (Bath), Ari Cooper-Davis (Exeter), Catherine Leech (Cardiff) and Debbie Shackleton (Exeter).

The 2018-19 individual student awards went to:

  • Best performing postgraduate school student: Juliana Marcal (Bath)
  • Most supportive postgraduate school student: James Rand (Bath)
  • Best Cohort 5 project presentation: Ari Cooper-Davis (Exeter)
  • Best Cohort 4 project presentation: Bert Swart (Bath)
  • Best Cohort 5 poster: Vivien Maertens (Bath)
  • Best Cohort 4 poster: Debbie Shackleton (Exeter)
  • Best Cohort 3 poster: Lina Stein (Bristol)
  • Best Cohort 2 poster: Joe Shuttleworth (Cardiff).


Our thanks and appreciation go to all our students, alumni, academics and administrative staff across the partnership, whose contributions ensured this event was such a success.  We are also grateful to Dave Stewart, Mike Wood and Colin Peters of Torbay Council for their generous support to planning the student challenge and for hosting the site visits.