Reflections on the BSG Windsor Workshop, December 2014

PhDs from around Europe attend once a year the Windsor workshop in the reverend halls of the grand Cumbeland Lodge in the Windsor Park. This years attendees Owen King and Fran Falcini from the York University and Lauren Knight from the Portsmouth University describe and advertize in this guest blog the workshop.

Windsor Castle. Credit: BSG homepage.

Windsor Castle. Credit: BSG homepage.

The Windsor Workshop is an annual, 4 day event organised by the British Society for Geomorphology that is designed to welcome first year PhD students into the world of academia, preparing them for the trials and tribulations they may face over the next 3 years of their project.

The Workshop is held at the grand Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Park and is a stunning location, especially on the frosty mornings and under the bright blue skies of our stay. The accommodation, catering (which is superb and plentiful) and entertainment on offer in the Lodge make it the perfect location to work and learn in a relaxed atmosphere. A wander around the Lodge, which contains some weird and wonderful pieces of artwork and statues (see below), and the grounds is highly recommended!

Sfm project at Windsor. Credit: Scott Wilson.

Sfm side project at Windsor. Credit: Scott Wilson.

After a chance to meet all the other attending students on the first evening, our workshop began with a discussion on the philosophy of science; a thought provoking exercise that made us all think carefully about what we can and can’t believe or say as scientists as well as delve into scientific rigour and method! The following few days were filled with a range of tasks including designing a PhD project (unrelated to your own) from scratch and then presenting your design for it, experimenting with models which simulate everything from the greenhouse effect to how many wolves it takes to decimate a flock of sheep, and presenting our preliminary PhD project ideas to others studying similar topics. Lectures and seminars on paper submission, open-access publishing, the peer-review process and how to handle yourself on social media all gave vital information on how to effectively present yourself and your research to the broader scientific community.

As with those that attended in previous years, we would highly recommend the Windsor Workshop to any 1st year PhD students with an interest in any aspect of Geomorphology as it is a great way to meet prominent academics with the field and well as other PhD student. It truly is a great way to help you kick-start your PhD project.

The next BSG Windsor workshop will be held in December 2015 – expect an announcement to be made this October.

By Owen King and Fran Falcini, PhD researchers from the York University and Lauren Knight, PhD researcher from the Portsmouth University

Participants at the Windsor Meeting in December 2014. Credit: BSG homepage.

Participants at the Windsor Meeting in December 2014. Credit: BSG homepage.

Our EGU session died, what went wrong?

Our EGU session died, what went wrong?

Have you ever had this experience? You develop a session which you think could be such a great platform or a subject that definitely interests a lot of people and then only a few people register…this happened to Jan, me, and several others this year and our proposed sessions (GM1.2 Emerging research fields in geomorphology and GM 1.4 Data wealth versus data poverty – new strategies for geomorphic research in a disparate world) died before they really came to life.

Andreas Lang (EGU Geomorphology President) offered advice when he told us the news and we wanted to share his ideas and comments with you and sincerely hope that they will help everyone to kick off his or her session ideas in the future! THANK you Andreas for the interview!!!

1. Our sessions died! What did we do wrong?

Well – probably the only thing that you really did wrong is that you allowed yourself to be too disappointed… sorry – but this is part of the game. Please do continue to come up with great ideas, promote exciting new topics and stimulate high quality contributions. GM runs in a bottom up mode – no pre-set themes but open for any great geomorphology.

There are multiple reasons why this may have happened; some are:
– Authors already committed to other events (see below);
– Not yet the right time: if you are involved in discussing a new idea you may find many people that are happy to engage with the debate but only a handful of which will already have produced presentable material. It may take many years from planting a new idea to seeing the topic in fruition;
– too narrow choice of topic. If you are too specific you may find it difficult to obtain a significant number of abstracts. EGU is for all Geomorphology – not limited by sub-discipline, region, timescale, … (but if you are too generic you may also run in trouble and provide too broad a roof for people to identify). In addition, you need to compete with sessions in other divisions where GM topics are finding increasing attention (this year the ratio of sessions lead organised in GM to session only co-organised in GM is 1 to 2.)
– you didn’t work hard enough…. New sessions can only be successful if you promote abstract submissions. Just sitting and waiting for abstracts to come in will usually not be enough.

2. Why do general topics, like concepts and emerging fields in geomorphology, have such a hard time receiving contributions?

Geomorphology in much of Europe is still treating theory with a lot of respect – as was nicely encapsulated by Chorley (1978) “Whenever anyone mentions theory to a geomorphologist, he instinctively reaches for his soil auger”. So, compared to sessions with an empirical or technical focus you will always find it difficult to stimulate a large volume of abstracts. Also, the majority of geomorphological research is carried out in PGR projects, often set up such that a handful of papers can be published from the work and submitted as a thesis. This is of course is encouraging rather focussed empirical, technological and case study work.

I discussed with Peter van der Beek, my successor at the helm of GM, how we may treat ‘theory’ differently. Probably this will trigger reinstating sessions with a dedicated theory focus and with high-level invited contributions. They would not be constraint by the threshold number of abstracts but will be guaranteed an oral slot. It really is for Peter to decide how he wants to take this forward but I guess he is open to suggestions.

3. What do you think is a good strategy for future session proposals to come to life?

In general: Be prepared to work hard – write directly to people that you want to get involved as advertising via the usual listservers will not always be sufficient. It also seems to help to enrol one or two invited speakers that will act as light-house for your session – but aim at a balance: too many solicited talks and you run out of oral time slots for the other contributors.

4. What would be a good advertisement strategy?

Personal invites to researchers active in that field in addition to wider distributed listserver emails. Have one email early after the call for abstracts has been issued and send a reminder a week or so before the deadline.

5. What current trends do you see in GM session development and what are the future developments to be expected?

There are two things I would like to mention – most importantly, GM is benefiting from a large and growing cohort of very active early career researchers! Thank you all! It has been a great pleasure to see so you all so active with scientific contributions, session organisation and workshop participation. The growing activity is great sign for a discipline and makes me confident that GM will continue to flourish. The second is that more and more co-organisation is happening with other divisions. The Earth surface is a most important interface and is getting attention from a wide range of disciplines. Thanks to the hard work of GM contributors over the past years other disciplines increasingly value what geomorphology has to offer and can contribute to solving their questions.

6. Why, in your opinion, did GM receive less abstracts than during the last years?

In general this is not a bad thing. GM has reached a good size – the largest annual geomorphology event globally. We can now work on further increasing the quality of the contributions – it may not be detrimental to be more selective.

For the reduction in submissions this year a number of reasons have been mentioned: An unfortunate choice of submission deadline that arose from the early meeting date this year that necessitated an early submission deadline. Usual contributors to GM have also mentioned that due to limited resources they needed to give other events priority this year: INQUA, Goldschmidt and the IAG regional conference in Siberia.



9th international Young Geomorphologists’ Workshop

9th international Young Geomorphologists’ Workshop

We’re happy to announce the 9th international young geomorphologists’ workshop, organized by the “Junge Geomorphologen” from Germany.

The workshop will take place on 08.-10. May 2015 in Heimbach-Hergarten, near Aachen, Germany (see flyer).

The meeting will provide an ideal opportunity to present your current work, to discuss problems and receive constructive feedback! We want to highlight our interest in solving problems that occur during the empirical or writing period of your research.


  • Your BSc/MSc and PhD research in a 20 mins presentation (or poster) followed by extensive discussions in a benevolent environment
  • Keynote lectures on river network response to tectonics (Prof. S. Willet, ETH Zurich) AND environmental change in the lower Rhine area (Prof. F. Lehmkuhl, RWTH Aachen)
  • Field trip to geomorphological highlights of the surrounding Eifel Mountains and the „Hohe Venn“ (Prof. W. Römer, RWTH Aachen)
  • Workshop on „Good scientifical practice and ethics in science“

Even though the program is quite dense, you’ll find time to get to know the other young researchers and share a beer with them! No worries!

Logistics: Workshop fee will be 35 € for full board!!!

Registration: Please send the registration form to until Friday, 17th of April 2015.

Save the date! And feel free to register with our mailing list to receive updates on the workshop and additional activities of the Young Geomorphologists! (Email to

Cheers the organization team

Philipp Schulte (RWTH Aachen)
Veit Nottebaum (RWTH Aachen)
Sabine Kraushaar (Uni Vienna)
Jan Blöthe (Uni Bonn)
Julia Meister (FU Berlin)
Steen Pötsch (Uni Greifswald)
David Morche (Uni Halle)
Michael Dietze (GFZ Potsdam)
Martin Weber (Uni Innsbruck)

Christmas Post

Christmas Post

Shortly before leaving our offices for Christmas holidays, we’d like to whish you all a merry Christmas and a perfect start into the new year!

But before saying goodbye to you for 2014 we want to announce 3 important geomorphology events in 2015:

  1. EGU 2015 abtract submission on January 7th. In 2015 the EGU General Assembly will be from 12-17 April.
  2. The “2nd International Young Geomorphlogists Social Event” will take place during the EGU General Assembly on Wednesday, 15th April – 7:30 PM. Again, we booked a nice and authentic night restaurant in the centre of Vienna to bring together young geomorphologists from all over the world. And please note that everybody is welcome who consideres himself as young! Beer prices were negotiated!
  3. The 14th INQUA will take place from the 27th July until 2nd August, 2015, in Nagoya, Japan. Deadline for abstracts was postponed until the 8th January.

We hope that you’ll also be visiting the geomorphology blog in 2015, and again want to encourage all our readers to contribute to this blog!

Sabine, Lucy, and Jan


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