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Richard Powell

University Lecturer in Human Geography
Richard Powell

Richard Powell took a Double First Class in Geography at St. John's College, University of Oxford, where he was awarded the H.O. Beckit Memorial Prize and a Gibbs Book Prize (BA, 1998). He then held a Canadian Rhodes Scholars Foundation Scholarship, and a University Graduate Fellowship, at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (MA[Distinction], 2000). Following his return to the UK, Richard held an ESRC/NERC Interdisciplinary Research Studentship and an External Research Studentship at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. He was awarded his PhD by the Department of Geography and Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge in May 2004.

Richard's previous posts include an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cambridge (June 2004-May 2005) and a Simon Research Fellowship at the University of Manchester (June 2005-August 2006). From September 2006, he taught for four years as a Lecturer (Grade B) at the University of Liverpool. Richard moved back to Oxford to a University Lecturership and Tutorial Fellowship at Mansfield College in September 2010.
Richard's research interests encompass geographies of science, political economies of resources and the geopolitics of territory. His work involves questions at the intersection of the social and environmental sciences and utilizes ethnographic and historical methods. Although his recent fieldwork has focused on the Circumpolar Arctic (specifically Nunavut, Greenland and northern Norway), Richard has undertaken research in Canada, the UK and Scandinavia. Richard's work has been awarded the Area Prize (2002) and the Environment and Planning A Ashby Prize (2007).
Richard convened the UNIQ Summer School for Geography in 2011 and 2012.
Richard was awarded a Teaching Excellence Award 2012 by the University of Oxford for 'Danish Fields: Enhancing Teaching and Learning through the Copenhagen Field Class'.
He was awarded the Gill Memorial Award (2013) by the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) for 'research in historical and Polar geography'.
Richard is from Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Current Research

Richard's research has investigated the social practices involved in the constitution of the environmental sciences in the Canadian Arctic. This involved participant observation at a Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP) scientific station over two field seasons in the High Arctic. As well as demonstrating the geographies of scientific knowledge at the PCSP research base at Resolute, Nunavut, this research also documented the politics of social interaction between Inuit and scientists, and the labour geographies of logistic personnel involved in field science.
More recently, Richard held an ESRC Interdisciplinary Early Career Research Fellowship, 'The sociopolitical, environmental and technological implications of climatic changes in the Circumpolar Arctic for UK Energy Security', 1 Sept. 2007 - 31 Aug. 2010 (RES-152-27-0002; £336,155). This programme of work examined the political geographies of environmental changes and resource extraction in the Circumpolar Arctic and their policy implications for UK energy security. As part of this project, Richard has been undertaking ethnography in Greenland, investigating the epistemic and political development of new hydrocarbon frontiers.
As PI, Richard held an ESRC Seminar Series Grant, 'Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes: The New Geopolitics of the Polar Regions', 1 Jan. 2010 - 31 Oct. 2011 (RES-451-26-0661-A; £18,524; Co-I, Prof. Klaus Dodds). This involved a series of four seminars, and a postgraduate workshop, to consolidate an international network of social scientists working on the Polar Regions. Richard holds a RCUK/ESRC Global Uncertainties Impact Support Grant, 'Impacts of Polar Geopolitics for UK Policy in the Arctic and Antarctic', 15 Feb. 2013- 30 Sept. 2013 (£5,000) to develop the policy-impact of these activities. More details on this project can be found on the project website.
Richard's research career has been supported by a range of awards and funding from many sources, including the Royal Society, London, the International Council for Canadian Studies, Ottawa, and the European Science Foundation, Brussels. Richard has been a Visiting Researcher at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, and at both the Department of Geography and the Institute of Canadian Studies, at the University of Ottawa.
Richard was re-elected for a second term as Chair of the History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (of the RGS-IBG), 2010-13. Richard organized a HPGRG/RGS-IBG Workshop on 'The Geographical Canon?' in Oxford on 15 June 2012.
Given his expertise, Richard is regularly consulted by policy-makers and the media in the UK, the European Union and North America about the future of the Polar Regions.
Richard sat on the Evaluation Committee for the 'Public Outreach Grants Program' of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), 2010-12 and was an international expert for the Norwegian-Russian Cooperation in Higher Education Programme, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2012. Since June 2010, he has been a member of the ESRC's Peer Review College. Richard currently sits on the Editorial Board of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 2013-.