Gilchrist Fieldwork Award

The Gilchrist Educational Trust offers an award of £15,000 to support original and challenging overseas fieldwork carried out by small teams of university academics and other researchers.


About the Award

The Gilchrist Fieldwork Award, of the Gilchrist Educational Trust, was first awarded in 1990. It is entirely owned, funded and awarded by the Trust, but operationally administered for a fee by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

The award, now annual, of £15,000 is given to a team of researchers with an outstanding proposal for research to advance geographical knowledge, that requires significant, challenging overseas fieldwork. The award should support a single field session of high-quality research and data collection. There should be strong links and collaborations with local agencies and communities. Local benefits should be demonstrated in applications.

Applications from geographers, ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, earth and environmental scientists, and researchers from related fields are all strongly encouraged. The award is open to established researchers. Applicants must hold a PhD at time of application and be based in a UK Higher Education Institution or equivalent research establishment.

Deadline: 23 November


Apply now

All prospective grant applicants are encouraged to read our Advice and Resources pages, which include more information about the grants programme, its conditions, how to apply for a grant and what is expected if your application is successful. Please read this information carefully and send your application, or any enquiries, by email to


Previous recipients

2022: Dr Max Webb (Royal Holloway, University of London). Isolation in Paradise – How island arc collision and rapid tectonic uplift have influenced species diversification in remote New Guinea

2018: Dr Melissa Murphy (University College London). High Arctic Rivers: A source or sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide?

2016: Dr Farnon Ellwood (University of the West of England). How does converting tropical forest to oil palm affect ecosystem function?

2014: Dr Heidi Burdett (University of St Andrews). Past, present, future: determining the climate tolerance thresholds of Maldivian corals, and the impact this has on the nation’s natural capital

2012: Professor Stephen Darby (University of Southampton). Mud, Monsoons and the Mekong: Using Tonle Sap Lake Sediment Records to Derive a 5000 Year Record of the Asian Monsoon and its Impacts on Mekong River Flood Regimes

2010: The award was not given in 2010

2008: Dr Alun Hubbard (University of Wales Aberystwyth). An integrated field remote-sensing and modelling programme on Russell Glacier catchment of meltwater and basal glacial dynamic response

2006: Dr Neil Stuart (University of Edinburgh). Characterisation of the major vegetation assemblages found in the Rio Bravo savannas, radar and optical remote sensing

2004: Professor Andrew Warren (University of Oxford). The Dustiest Place on Earth: Measurement and Modelling of Dust Production and Transport in Northern Chad

2002: Dr Nick Branch (Royal Holloway, University of London). An examination of the long-term environmental history of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, Peru, since the end of the last glaciation (10,000 years ago)

2000: Professor Peter Smart (University of Bristol). Exploration of the nature, and hydrological, geochemical and microbiological behaviour of the extensive underwater cave systems (and associated aquifer) which extends some 10km inland from the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula

1998: Dr Piers Vitebsky (Scott Polar Institute, University of Cambridge). A study of recent social economic and environmental changes in the northern part of the Sakha Republic, north-eastern Siberia, particularly the isolated hunting and reindeer-herding communities in the Verkhoyansk mountain range

1997: Dr Peter Lovatt (University of Aberdeen). Geological mapping of the northern Clavering Island to improve understanding of the Caledonian fold belt and younger cover rocks on Clavering Island. The work contributed to extensive studies made by the Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme (CASP) during their East Greenland Project

1996: Dr Alistair Kirkbride (Lancaster University). The Chuja-Katun river system in the Altai mountains contains a legacy of large-scale fluvial landforms associated with cataclysmic flooding during the last glaciation and possibly before. This study documented the number, timing and magnitude of the catastrophic floods

1994: Dr David Nash (University of Brighton). A collaborative project between the universities of Brighton, Luton, Cape Town and Botswana to provide information on the past hydrology and dynamics of the Okavango Delta. A total of eight sediment cores were extracted and analysed from the field area

1992: Dr Tom Spencer (University of Cambridge). The expedition studied past environmental variability over geological time scales through topographic survey and fossil coral sampling in the Northern Cook Islands. Based on results derived from past and present environments, management strategies were outlined to prevent the deterioration of contemporary reef and lagoon environments in the northern Cook Islands, along with scenarios of future environmental change for the strategic planning needs of the Cook Islands Government

1990: Dr J A Briggs (University of Glasgow). Sustainable Agro-Ecological Development Potentials of Arid Environments Influenced by Groundwater Infiltration: A Study of the Wadi Allaqi Region, Southern Egypt. Research into the soil, water and vegetation resources of Wadi Allaqi, and the responses of the local Bedouin population to these resource opportunities were used to document the suitability of the Lake Nasser shorelands for managed and sustainable agricultural development

1990: Dr Sarah Metcalfe (Universities of Hull and Sheffield). A study of the Chihuahuan desert, northern Mexico since around 18,000 years BP, using cores of lake sediments. Present day diatoms, water quality and ecology were also collected

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