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Research Student Spotlight June 2023- Daniel Colson


Our monthly spotlight on the work and lives of the next generation of water@leeds researchers. 

Daniel Colson

PhD title: Remote Sensing of Northern Peatlands

Supervisors: Paul Morris, Mark Smith, Duncan Quincey

School of Geography


Tell us a bit about yourself

I grew up in Olney, a market town near Milton Keynes, that’s probably best known for pancakes (there’s an annual race down the high street on Shrove Tuesday, where participants have to run with a frying pan and pancake!). My love for geography was inspired by passionate teachers throughout my time at school, including managing to sell rainy trips to the Lake District. I completed an undergraduate degree in Geography and a Masters in Remote Sensing and GIS at Aberystwyth University. Subsequently, I worked for several years as an Earth Observation Specialist, which gave me the chance to see the world from a whole new perspective.


Why did you choose Leeds University?

I had known for a few years that I wanted to pursue a PhD, but wanted to take a break from academia. I saw a number of projects at Leeds that fascinated myself and built on work I had previously conducted, and, after contacting the supervisory team, I knew it was somewhere I could fit in and grow.


What is your research about?

I am fascinated by climate change and its effects on the natural environment, particularly peatland landscapes. Peatlands play a vital role in carbon sequestration and storage, an important component of the global carbon cycle. Understanding rapid changes in these areas are integral to future climate work. My research focuses on the understanding of these landscapes across scales, from the sub-metre to the tens of kilometres. Using a combination of Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV), airborne and satellite data, I map and explore peatland environments.


What did you wish you knew before starting a PhD?

It’s important to talk regularly to your supervisors, not just about your work. Some days are mentally tricky, as is the nature of research, but it’s important to recognise this and know that others can go through the same. The wider PGR community at Leeds is very supportive and enthusiastic.


Twitter:  @daniel_colson

More about Daniel's research can be found in his School of Geography profile.