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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Victoria Brown

Deputy Principal of Van Mildert College
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 47144
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 45991

Contact Dr Victoria Brown (email at


I graduated from Durham University in 2007 with a first class BSc (Hons) in Natural Sciences: Earth Sciences and Geography. After graduation, I continued my studies at Durham as an MSc (Research) student under the supervision on Dr Ian Evans and Prof. David Evans looking at the most recent glaciation of the English Lake District. I then undertook at PhD, again in Geography, with Prof. Chris Stokes and Prof. Colm Ó Cofaigh as part of the Ice Sheets and Sea Level research group at Durham University.

Following submission of my PhD in 2012, I began working at Van Mildert College as the Development Officer. The principal aim of this role was to provide strategic and continued engagement with the 6000 + alumni and friends of the College through a range of events and media. After moving to Josephine Butler College in April 2013 to take up the position of Postgraduate and Scholarly Experience Officer (and Pre-sessional Tutor) and working closely with the English Language Centre, I returned to Van Mildert College in August 2014 to my current role: Deputy Principal. Alongside this role, I have continued as a part-time teacher in the Department of Geography.

Current Post

Deputy Principal, Van Mildert College - As part of the College Management team at Van Mildert College, I work alongside the Principal to develop the College as a scholarly and vibrant learning community. I work closely with the Middle Common Room to ensure the continued development of the postgraduate community in the College and also with the alumni community who play a vital role in the Colleges’ careers and employability programme of events; The Mildert Link. I also oversee the Student Support provision at the College, including our excellent team of College Mentors, and continue to promote the Colleges’ wide ranging outreach activities.

Department of Geography - Alongside my College role, I teach on a range of modules in the Department of Geography across all levels of the degree programme. I am currently a Level 1 Physical Geography Tutor and provide teaching support for Level 2 GIS and Remote Sensing, Level 2 Scientific Research in Geography and Level 4 Advanced Field Methods.

I have previous experience of field teaching in Portugal, the Lake District, Isle of Skye, and regionally across the north-east of England. I have held teaching positions within the Department of Geography since 2007.

Research Interests

My research interests are focused on the use of glacial geomorphology to understand ice sheet and ice stream dynamics and the reconstructing Younger Dryas glaciers and palaeo-climate. Throughout my work I am interested in the application of GIS and remote sensing techniques. Additional details about my work can be found below.

  • The Laurentide Ice Sheet was an influential component of the global earth system, particularly from the Last Glacial Maximum through to deglaciation. Fast flowing corridors of ice within ice sheets (‘ice streams’) drain ice sheets rapidly and are therefore key regulators of ice sheet mass balance in both palaeo and contemporary ice sheets. They provide a vital link between the cryosphere and global climate so are important for understanding both past and future climate change. Present day ice streams can be identified by measuring the surface velocity of ice sheets and recent measurements show short-term fluctuations in flow and position. However, in order to understand their long-term behaviour, reconstructions of their activity in palaeo-ice sheets are necessary by examining the glacial geomorphic record.
  • Geomorphological mapping in a GIS of North-West Territories and part of Nunavut has therefore been carried out using a range of spaceborne and airborne imagery. These products allowed widespread, rapid coverage of the study area which covers ~800,000 km2. More than 86,000 bedforms have been mapped including glacial lineations, eskers, moraines and meltwater channels. Mapping has been carried out remotely using a range of remote sensing products. The geomorphological maps have been used to provide a detailed reconstruction of ice stream activity in the North-West LIS from the LGM through to deglaciation based on the radiocarbon chronology of Dyke et al. (2003). To establish the role of pro-glacial lakes on ice stream activity, a continental scale reconstruction of pro-glacial lakes was subsequently produced in a GIS which can be found in Brown (2012).
  • It has long been recognized that parts of the British Isles were occupied by ice during the Younger Dryas. This glaciation was characterized by extensive summit icefields and outlet glaciers. In the Lake District, contrasting styles of glaciation have been proposed by Manley, (1959), Sissons (1980), McDougall (2001) and Brown et al. (2011: 2013). These contrasting scenarios invoke significant differences in regional palaeo-climate during the Younger Dryas which still require significant refinement. Indeed, the dating of ice margin positions during the Younger Dryas remains a key area of uncertainty in establishing accurate palaeo-climate reconstructions. As such, an approach which integrates geomorphological observation and numerical modelling has proved increasingly important, particularly in areas such as the south-west Lake District where the geomorphological record is complex and often incomplete. Ongoing mapping aims to build on the work of Brown et al. (2013) to refiner the wider regional style and timing of Younger Dryas glaciation in the Lake District.