Association of Open University Graduates
Helen Crags

Award winner Helen Craggs

The AOUG Bursary Award 2006

On 6th October 2006 our most prestigious event, the AOUG Bursary award, took place at the Open University in Milton Keynes. The ceremony was introduced by Margaret Stobirski, publicity officer, and the award was presented by Jean Hertzog, the AOUG chairman.

Recipients of this award must fulfil our criteria, which is to have completed a first degree with the Open University, and be in the final stages of their studies for a PhD. Applications are invited and finally applicants are interviewed prior to selection.

This year Helen Craggs was awarded our Bursary. Helen states that she was fortunate to spend most of her childhood in Brazil, returning to England in the 1960s to complete her education. She obtained various qualifications in modern languages which she put to good use in the travel industry. In the mid 1980s Helen pursued a long held interest in physics and astronomy by enrolling on the OU Science Foundation Course. At this time she discovered a real interest in geology and went on to achieve a First Class BSc Honours degree in 1996.

Helen's PhD topic is 'Late Mesozoic climate change and vegetation: Evaluation using plant fossils.' Helen is working within the Earth Sciences department in the Faculty of Science. Helen's work requires her to analyse the characteristics of fossil leaves, from photographs of the fossil flora from North Eastern Russia.  The second phase of her work has been to collect data from fossil material (approximately 88 million years old) from around the Arctic. Helen is comparing the data and predicting climate parameters. This includes mean annual temperature, cold and warm months, precipitation during the growing season, the wettest and driest 3 months, the length of the growing season and specific and relative humidity.

Professor Robert Spicer, the Director for Centre for Earth Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research is Helen's supervisor, and introduced Helen and her work to us. We were delighted to welcome many guests and in particular the Vice Chancellor Brenda Gourley.  In attendance were Helen's husband and daughter and there was representation from many of the AOUG regions, Alumni, Ousa and faculties of the University.

We are so pleased that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event and also delighted to receive a letter from Helen that has been published together with this report.

Margaret Stobirski