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Geographer sets out to discover secrets of the sea

Posted on 26/10/2009
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Dr Lambert will pursue his research into historical geography

Dr David Lambert, from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, has been awarded a prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize by the Leverhulme Trust, which is worth £70,000. The prize will enable Dr Lambert to pursue his research interests in the historical geography of both the British Empire and the maritime world; the latter of which has been neglected due to academics’ heavy focus on land-based geography.

Dr Lambert comments, “This award is hugely liberating for me – as an academic working here for six years my time for writing can be limited. This provides me with the necessary time to think and plan my latest research.”

The research award will allow Dr Lambert to complete his latest book, ‘The Armchair Explorer’, which tells the story of African Geographer James MacQueen – who despite never setting foot in Africa becomes the first Briton to discover where the River Niger ends, years before on-the-spot explorers. A former plantation manager in the Caribbean, MacQueen pieces the story together from the accounts of African slaves and correctly concludes that the river loops south into what we now know as the Niger Delta.

Maritime geography is also high on Dr Lambert’s research agenda, with the USA, Canada and the Caribbean all places he hopes to visit whilst conducting his research. Dr Lambert believes there is a great deal of scope for research into this area of geography. He is beginning to investigate the Royal Navy’s reliance on coaling stations – developing research conducted by PhD students at Royal Holloway. A collaborative project with the National Maritime Museum, which unearthed interesting questions about sea-based geography, has formed a strong base for Dr Lambert’s research proposal to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The Leverhulme Trust is one of the largest all subject providers of research funding in the UK. The Trust places an emphasis on individuals and covers a broad range of subject areas. They particularly value research projects that are original and significant, and which demonstrate good judgement and the willingness to take appropriate risks in order to achieve notable research goals.

The international dimension to Dr Lambert’s research has stood him in good stead for receiving the award. His first publication, ‘White Creole Culture, Politics and Identity during the Age of Abolition’, focuses on the Caribbean and spoke to a transatlantic audience, while Dr Lambert’s second book ‘Colonial Lives across the British Empire’ was an international collaboration with notable scholars.

Dr Lambert comments, “It’s fantastic to have received the award. The College has really supported me and this has been vital. To receive a prize like this, you need to achieve a lot of things when you are still quite junior in your career.”

Professor David Simon adds, “In the words of the Leverhulme Trust’s letter of notification, this Prize is ‘compelling recognition of David’s research achievements’. This is our second success in this competition in recent years – another distinctive feather in the Department’s cap.”


 
 
 

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