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Inspiring the next generation of geographers

Screenshot from talk showing a PowerPoint slide and Nik Lomax in small speaker screen

Inspiring the next generation of geographers

On Wednesday 30th June, CDRC Co-Director, Dr Nik Lomax, delivered an online talk entitled “Demographic Change and Population Projections” to secondary-school students.

Geography Education Online approached me because population is on the school syllabus and I’ve done lots of work on population estimates and projections1, 2. It was an enjoyable experience and an interesting challenge to translate my expertise and research for a new audience.”

Nik began by talking about why it’s important we have accurate population estimates and projections for planning and policy. “Governments need good evidence in order to make good policy,” he told the students.

Sharing maps and data visualisations from the United Nations, Office for National Statistics and the CDRC, Nik demonstrated a series of trends and outcomes across different areas and population sub-groups.

Screenshot from talk showing a PowerPoint slide and Nik Lomax in small speaker screen

He discussed global population growth and its implications (comparing areas with very different demographic profiles: sub-Saharan Africa and Spain), highlighting how potential support ratios (the number of working age people to those who are retired) would decline over time as populations became older. He then turned his attention to the types of projection models which are routinely used and the demographic inputs to those models, and how varying these inputs could produce very different variant projection scenarios.

Nik talked about the importance of breaking down these demographic inputs by geography and other population attributes, because there’s so much variation between different areas and groups. He used a series of migration schedules and age-specific fertility & mortality rate graphs to demonstrate this variation. He then discussed an example from his own research which demonstrated how ethnic group populations might change under different migration scenarios based around potential policy post-Brexit, showing how diversity would increase in the UK under every scenario.

“I wanted to link to the school syllabus but also provide an example grounded in my research that people wouldn’t have seen before, in this case the migration scenarios for ethnic groups work from this paper.”

“I hope the audience took away the message that these models are very useful but don’t represent the ‘truth’ because the future is uncertain. Projection models are reliant on good data inputs and are sensitive to the assumptions that are made about future trends.” Nik finished by encouraging the audience to have the confidence to look at the data and interrogate the outputs of models, and directed them towards maps.cdrc.ac.uk as a useful resource!

Nik’s talk is available on YouTube

(1)    https://theconversation.com/what-the-uk-population-will-look-like-by-2061-under-hard-soft-or-no-brexit-scenarios-117475

(2)    https://theconversation.com/whats-happened-to-uk-migration-since-the-eu-referendum-in-four-graphs-127891

Celebrating collaboration: the CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme

Celebrating collaboration: the CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme

Celebrating collaboration: the CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme. Thursday 29th April 2021, 10:30-15:00.

The CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme, now in its tenth year, has been successfully run by the Consumer Data Research Centre for the last seven years. The event celebrated the success of the scheme, and explored the changing nature of academic-industry collaboration. Masters students who had gone through the scheme presented project case studies, and a selection of alumni spoke of the positive impact the scheme had had on their data science careers. A panel session rounded off the event with a discussion of the possibilities and ambitions for the next seven years of the Masters Dissertation Scheme. The event was attended by industry partners, MDS alumni, and the CDRC team including Paul Longley, Alex Singleton, and Jonathan Reynolds.

Speaker biographies


1030-1130: The Business of Engagement. Session recording (Longley 0:06, Dugmore 7:05, Reynolds 28:27, Squires 41:21)

  • Introduction & welcome: Professor Paul Longley, Director, CDRC
  • The evolution of academic-industry collaboration: Keith Dugmore, Demographic Decisions. Slides
  • CDRC: Where are they now? MDS 7 years on: Dr Jonathan Reynolds, Deputy Director (Oxford), CDRC. Slides
  • The business of engagement: the firm’s perspective: Martin Squires, Director of Advanced Analytics, Pets at Home. Slides

1145-1245: Alumni presentations. Session recording (Murage 2:16, Davies 25:10, Tonge & Montt 45:53)

  • Nombuyiselo Murage, Tamoco. Dissertation at Tamoco. MSc Geographic Data Science, University of Liverpool. Slides
  • Alec Davies, Pets at Home. Dissertation at Sainsbury’s. MSc Geographic Data Science, University of Liverpool, PhD Geographic Data Science. Slides
  • Christian Tonge, Movement Strategies. MSc Geographic Data Science, University of Liverpool, and Cristobal Montt, Movement Strategies. MSc Data Science, City, University of London. Dissertations at Movement Strategies. Slides

1400-1505: Alumni presentations (continued) and panel discussion. Session recording (Ushakova 1:48, Samson 21:29, Panel 37:26)

  • Alumni presentation: Dr Anastasia Ushakova, Senior Research Associate, University of Lancaster. Dissertation at British Gas.
    MSc Public Policy, UCL; PhD Computational Social Science. Slides
  • Alumni presentation: Nick Samson, Associate Director, CBRE. Dissertation at British Gas. MSc Geographic Information Science, UCL. Slides
  • Panel Discussion. The next 7 years. Achievements and ambitions: Alex Singleton, Deputy Director (Liverpool), CDRC;
    Samantha Hughes, Analytics Innovation Manager, Avon; Martin Squires, Director of Advanced Analytics, Pets at Home.
  • Thanks & conclusion: Professor Paul Longley, Director, CDRC

Nick Samson, 2014 MDS alumnus. Dissertation at British Gas. Project title: Can smart meters save consumers and British Gas money and carbon by pinpointing which consumers are most likely and best placed to install insulation in their homes?