SEGH Articles

SEGH2019 Prize Winners Series: Carly Woods

12 August 2019
Carly Woods, a PhD researcher at the University of the West of Scotland, won the second-best overall ECR presentation prize and shares her experience of SEGH2019 with us!

The 35th International Conference on Geochemistry and Health

From 1st -5th July, the 35th International Conference on Geochemistry and Health was held within the Business School building at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). Delegates from around the world attended and contributions were made in the form of 6 keynote presentations, platform presentations and poster presentations.  These covered a number of interesting themes which highlighted the core SEGH focus of the link between geochemical environment and health in the broad area of environmental chemistry.


External of the Business building at MMU, site of the 2019 SEGH conference.

The first sessions of the conference were initiated with interesting keynote talks by Prof. David Manning, Newcastle University (Carbon Capture Gardens: a new function for urban wastelands) and Prof. Ricardo Godoi, Federal University of Parana State (Long-term accumulation of perchlorate aerosol combined with geothermal heat flux may contribute to basal ice lubrication at West Antarctica).  These presentations seamlessly integrated with the day’s platform presentation themes of ‘Urban wastelands: potential for enhancing urban resilience’ and ‘Environmental change: impact on the environment & human health’ respectively.

The topics of New Technologies and Environmental Monitoring were represented by various engaging presentations, including those of the keynote speakers: Dr Kirsty Shaw, MMU (Lab-on-a-chip in the environment) and Prof. Stuart Harrad, University of Birmingham (The Organic Flame Retardant Story: Knowns and Unknowns).

Finally, a keynote address by Sarah Dack, Public Health England (The problem of “Background” in contaminated land assessment) lead presentations into the topic of Environmental Health then Dr Haleh Moravej, MMU (Health awareness and wellbeing in Student Population) introduced presentations on Sustainable Nutrition & Agriculture.  Following this, Dr Moravej with some of the team from MetMUnch (MMU based, student-led enterprise promoting sustainable and nutritious food) encouraged full participation in a hands-on workshop of kimchi making to re-inforce the topical conversation of nutrition and food waste prevention.


MetMUnch engagement event, delegates await instruction on food waste tip:  don’t throw away your old food, ferment it to produce long-lasting Korean side dish kimchi.  Image credit: @MetMUnch twitter page.

All presentations evoked interest from delegates of various backgrounds, allowing opportunity for networking and collaborative prospects.  Furthermore, early career researchers were introduced in a specially arranged lunch event.

Additionally to the sessions, the conference had an eventful social programme which included: a welcome mixer; a visit to the much enjoyed Manchester City Football Academy; a formal conference dinner within the luxury Midland Hotel; a pub crawl; and a day trip to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, giving participants the chance to absorb some of the surrounding Mancunian culture. 


Delegates outside Etihad Stadium, home of the Manchester City football team, post-tour. 


Delegates gathered in front of the Edwardian façade of the prestigious Midland Hotel after enjoying a formal three-course conference dinner. 

At the closing ceremony, it was announced that the 2020 SEGH conferences would be held at two separate events in Kenya and China. 

The closing ceremony initiated with the exciting news that the 2020 SEGH conferences would be held in two separate events in Kenya then in China, whilst Dr Michael Watts (Head of Inorganic Geochemistry at the British Geological Survey) was re-elected as SEGH president with overwhelming support from all delegates.  This session concluded with the prize-giving ceremony and the three Springer prizes were awarded as follows:

  • Tatiana Cocerva (Queen’s University Belfast), Best student oral presentation
  • Carly Woods (University of the West of Scotland), Outstanding student oral presentation
  • Amy Sansby (University of Nottingham), Best student poster presentation
  • Jon Connelly (University of Strathclyde), Outstanding student poster presentation


SEGH 2019 prize winners, Tatiana Cocerva (left), Carly Woods (middle), and Amy Sansby, (right) receiving Springer awards from Prof Andrew Hursthouse, UWS.  Image courtesy of SEGH.

To reiterate one of the messages of the conference, SEGH is planning to release a special edition journal following this conference and encourages members to send suggestions for articles to Dr Sanja Potgeiter-Vermaak:

Special thanks to the conference chair, Dr Sanja Potgieter-Vermaak, co-chair Dr David Megson, the organising committee, and the national and international scientific committee members of SEGH for their hard work in making this event a success.  Additional thanks to MMU for hosting this event.

For further information, including the conference programme and abstracts, please see the MMU SEGH Conference Page.

Image credits: @SocEGH twitter page unless otherwise stated.

Keep up to date

Submit Content

Members can keep in touch with their colleagues through short news and events articles of interest to the SEGH community.

Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Geophagy among East African Chimpanzees: consumed soils provide protection from plant secondary compounds and bioavailable iron 2019-12-01


    Geophagy, the intentional consumption of earth materials, has been recorded in humans and other animals. It has been hypothesized that geophagy is an adaptive behavior, and that clay minerals commonly found in eaten soil can provide protection from toxins and/or supplement micronutrients. To test these hypotheses, we monitored chimpanzee geophagy using camera traps in four permanent sites at the Budongo Forest Reserve, Uganda, from October 2015–October 2016. We also collected plants, and soil chimpanzees were observed eating. We analyzed 10 plant and 45 soil samples to characterize geophagic behavior and geophagic soil and determine (1) whether micronutrients are available from the soil under physiological conditions and if iron is bioavailable, (2) the concentration of phenolic compounds in plants, and (3) if consumed soils are able to adsorb these phenolics. Chimpanzees ate soil and drank clay-infused water containing 1:1 and 2:1 clay minerals and > 30% sand. Under physiological conditions, the soils released calcium, iron, and magnesium. In vitro Caco-2 experiments found that five times more iron was bioavailable from three of four soil samples found at the base of trees. Plant samples contained approximately 60 μg/mg gallic acid equivalent. Soil from one site contained 10 times more 2:1 clay minerals, which were better at removing phenolics present in their diet. We suggest that geophagy may provide bioavailable iron and protection from phenolics, which have increased in plants over the last 20 years. In summary, geophagy within the Sonso community is multifunctional and may be an important self-medicative behavior.

  • Accumulation of uranium and heavy metals in the soil–plant system in Xiazhuang uranium ore field, Guangdong Province, China 2019-12-01


    Plants that have grown for many years in the special environmental conditions prevailing in mining areas are naturally screened and show strong capacity to adapt to their environment. The present study investigated the enrichment characteristics of U and other heavy metals (As, Cu, Pb, Mn, Mo, Zn, Cd, Co, and Ni) in the soil–plant system in Xiazhuang uranium mine. Four dominant plants (Castanopsis carlesii, Rhus chinensis, Liriodendron chinense, and Sapium discolor) and soil samples were collected from the mined areas, unmined areas, and background areas away from the ore field. U, As, Cu, Pb, Mn, Mo, Zn, Cd, Co, and Ni concentrations were analyzed by ICP-MS. The results demonstrate that (1) The highest concentrations of U (4.1–206.9 mg/kg) and Pb (43.3–126.0 mg/kg) with the geoaccumulation index (Igeo) greater than 1 show that they are the main soil pollutants in the research area. (2) The biological accumulation coefficient (LBAC) values for Cd, Mn, and Cu are greater than zero in S. discolor, L. chinense, and C. carlesii and these three plants indicate that they can be used for remediation of the soil in the ore field. (3) R. chinensis inhibits the accumulation of heavy metals and shows sensitive pigment responses to the accumulation of U in the leaves. L. chinense has the strongest enrichment effect on heavy metals but exhibits weak biochemical responses under U stress. C. carlesii demonstrates strong adaptation to U and can maintain healthy pigment characteristics in case of high U enrichment. (4) S. discolor, L. chinense, C. carlesii and R. chinensis have strong tolerance to U toxicity and different biochemical responses.

  • Distribution, sources and health risk assessment of contaminations in water of urban park: A case study in Northeast China 2019-12-01


    This case study was performed to determine whether the pollutants in water of urban park could bring health risk to human engaging in water-related activities such as swimming and provide evidence demonstrating the critical need for strengthened recreational water resources management of urban park. TN, NH4+-N, TP, Cu, Mn, Zn, Se, Pb, As, Cd and Cr(VI) contents were determined to describe the spatial distribution of contaminations; sources apportionment with the method of correlation analysis, factor analysis and cluster analysis were followed by health risk assessment for swimmers of different age groups. The results reveal that element contents in all sites do not exceed Chinese standard for swimming area and European Commission standard for surface water; all detected elements except Cr(VI) have a tendency to accumulate in the location of lake crossing bridge; Mn and Zn are considered to have the same pollution source including geogenic and anthropogenic sources by multivariable analysis. Carcinogenic risks of different age groups descend in the same order with non-carcinogenic risks. Among all elements, Zn and Mn contribute the lowest non-carcinogenic risk (5.1940E-06) and the highest non-carcinogenic risk (7.9921E-04) through skin contact pathway, respectively. The total average personal risk for swimmers in swimming area is 1.9693E-03, and this site is not suitable for swimming. Overall, it is possible that swimmers are exposed to risk via the dermal route when carrying out water-related activities, it is recommended that necessary precautions and management should be taken in other similar locations around the world.